Rod Jabin took delivery of a J/111 in March, just as a global pandemic shut down sailboat racing on the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
Jabin’s new toy sat on a cradle at Bert Jabin’s Yacht Yard, the sprawling facility founded by his father and now operated by the eldest son.
“I got the boat and we were shut down from the get-go,” said Jabin, who bought the J/111 from an owner in Cowes, England.
Going into this past weekend’s Annapolis Fall Regatta, Jabin and crew had competed in just four events.
You would never have known it from the team’s performance in the Annapolis Fall Regatta, organized by the Storm Trysail Club-Chesapeake Station. Jabin steered Ramrod to victory in all four races to capture the ORC East Coast Championship last weekend.
“I’m very proud of our team and very proud of the effort that’s gone into preparing the boat in a short amount of time,” said Jabin, who has owned a series of racers named Ramrod with the most recent being a Farr 40 and Farr 30.
This particular J/111 has a pedigree, having captured the class world championship in 2015. Jabin had help getting the program off the ground with Annapolis professional Chris Larson overseeing the basic building blocks.
“All credit goes to Chris Larson, who has really done a great job putting the boat together,” Jabin said. “Chris took care of getting the sails organized, tuning the boat and putting the crew together. This weekend he did a great job of getting us around the racecourse.”
Larson called tactics for Jabin, who sailed with an extremely talented crew. Matt Beck trimmed the main, while Morgan Trubovich and Ridgely McKenzie teamed to trim the headsails. Teddy Haaland handled the foredeck, Van Walke worked the mast and Fletcher Sims was in the pit.
“Full credit goes to the crew for sailing the boat so well. I can’t believe we were able to save our time on some of the other great boats that were out here,” Jabin said. “We managed to get clean starts and sail in clean air, for the most part. Getting into a controlling position and keeping the boat going fast were the keys.”
Ramrod’s perfect score line left the rest of the ORC 2 class fighting for second. M’am’selle, a J/122 owned by Ed and Cindy Hartman, earned the runner-up position on the strength of two second-place finishes. M’am’selle totaled 14 points, three better than skipper Ken Comerford and his team on the J/111 Moneypenny.
“Although two races were decided by 6 and 10 seconds, we were not going to catch Rod this weekend. He sailed flawlessly — good skipper, good boat, good crew and good sails. Very tough to beat,” said Hartman, vice commodore of the Annapolis Yacht Club.
“For a big, heavy cruising boat sailing in light air, rating the same as the J/111s that are half our weight, Cindy and I were very pleased with second. We still have some work to do if we are going to make Rod look back over his transom,” Hartman added.
There was a good battle between a pair of Naval Academy entries in ORC 1. Members of the Navy varsity offshore sailing team performed impressively as skipper Paul Jervis and the crew of the J/133 Wasp outlasted skipper Ashley Koenig and her team aboard the Farr 40 Ranger.
Jervis served as tactician for driver Maddy Ploch as Wasp posted a solid score line of 1-3-1-2 for a low score of seven points. Ranger won the opening buoy race Sunday then followed with a couple thirds in finishing four points astern.
“Ranger seemed to be our main competitor. Our logic was to sail our own race and make sure we stayed in pressure, but to also remain in fighting range with Ranger,” said Jervis, a first-class midshipman. “We were pretty much able to sail their angles or a little lower and stay in touch. We kept up with them pretty well on both the upwind and downwind legs.”
Rounding out the Wasp crew were Lauren Breitinger (main), Teagan Foley (spinnaker), Joe Garcia (jib), Patrick Michalik (pit), Gary Munsell (bow) Gregory Smith (floater) and Vaughn Studer (mast).
Head coach Jahn Tihansky entered four of the Naval Academy’s donated boats in the Annapolis Fall Regatta. Members of the Navy varsity offshore sailing team also raced the Ker 50 Wahoo and the Farr 40 Zephyr.
Because of the coronavirus, Tihansky has been unable to utilize his cadre of volunteer coaches. He was the only coach on the water this weekend, sailing aboard Wasp as safety officer on Friday and with Ranger on Sunday.
Standing on the stern of Ranger, Tihansky had a good vantage point to observe the Wasp crew and came away impressed.
“They sailed their boat extremely well and had it going fast. They got good starts, stayed out of trouble and had solid boat-handling,” he said. “They essentially covered from behind and Ranger was unable to get away from Wasp. They made no mistakes.”
Dick Neville, race committee chairman for the Storm Trysail Club-Chesapeake Station, resurrected the Annapolis Fall Regatta following a one-year hiatus. This season saw a noticeable increase in ORC racing on the Chesapeake Bay with a significant number of boat owners obtaining rating certificates.
A strong fleet of 20 boats entered the Annapolis Fall Regatta — 13 in ORC 2 and seven in ORC 1. Neville served as principal race officer and scheduled a distance race around government marks on the Chesapeake Bay for Friday, Oct. 23. A light south-southeasterly breeze in the 6-8 knot range prompted Neville to shorten the course to 19 nautical miles with Wasp winning ORC 1 and Ramrod topping ORC 2.
Saturday brought light, fluky conditions and Neville postponed on station in hopes of finding a stable breeze. He got off one start but was quickly forced to abandon.
Fortunately, Sunday brought strong northeasterly winds in the 12-15 knot range, allowing the race committee to complete three windward-leeward races. Neville set windward legs of 1.4 nautical miles and sent the fleet around twice.
Prior to the distance race Friday, the entire fleet recognized a moment of silence in honor of Geoff Ewenson, the Annapolis professional sailor who died Oct. 14 of an apparent heart attack. His widow, SpinSheet Magazine publisher Mary Ewenson, and two siblings — Nick and Ashley — were on the water to participate in the ceremony. Mary Ewenson was presented with a wreath the race committee had hung from the stern of the signal boat.
Annapolis Fall Regatta results
ORC 1 (7 boats)
1. Wasp, Midn. Paul Jervis, 1-3-1-2=7; 2. Ranger, Midn. Ashley Koenig, 4-1-3-3=11; 3. One Trick Pony, David and Jacki Meiser, 2-5-5-1=13