May 17, 2010
Good Guys Do Finish First
|**Skipper Michael Johnson along with crew (left to right) Joy Okazaki, Bob Pistay, Peg Pritchard, and Justin Fallstrom won overall honors at the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD Regatta. **|
Organizing a major championship is often a thankless job. And to add insult to injury, the distraction of wondering whether everything is going according to plan rarely helps on the racecourse. But Michael Johnson and wife Joy Okazaki, who have critical roles in the J/24 North American Championship this coming weekend, were able to shake off any effects of a lot of short nights and long days of late and sail Hot Pursuit to the win in the 21-boat J/24 class at the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD Regatta. Depth was a hallmark of this fleet, which featured top competitors from Japan, Canada, and up and down the West Coast of the United States. Ten boats won at least one of the 14 races; going into the final race the top three boats were within two points of each other.
The win netted Johnson the J/24 Northwest Regional Championship and a chance to compete against the top boats from the other eight NOOD regattas this coming November in the B.V.I. in identical charter boats provided by Sunsail.
Tell us about the win.
It means a lot to us, we’ve been a big part of [this regatta]. We’re trying to put on the North Americans coming on next weekend. My wife is running that, and I’m one of the measurers. So we’ve been a big part of not only this regatta, but of the next regatta that’s coming up.
That’s a lot to handle. Were you worried that your involvement in organizing the North Americans would end up hurting your performance?
I was. Four hours of sleep quite a few nights. My wife and I stayed up trying to get sponsorships, trying to work on certificates for our local fleet. We have about 30 boats that are trying to get their certificates current. It’s been a lot. It was nice just to get out on the boat and go sailing in our local venue. We really enjoyed that.
This regatta was a grind for everyone, with so many races in a short period of time. The J/24 class did 14 races in three days. Did that play to your strength or did you have to fight to keep your focus?
We actually focus really well. It’s nice being in the venue and stuff, where we know this, we’ve sailed up here. It’s great to see some of the local guys do well, but it’s also great to see the Japanese team [which finished fourth] and some of the other teams come up here. The Canadians came down, were a big part of it. We had a bunch of California boats that were right up in the top.
You had the lead after Day 1, but were behind by a point going into the final race, with the third place a point behind you. Tell us about the final race?
We had to beat Harry and we were [one point ahead of] 3 Big Dogs. We knew we had to beat both those guys. Fortunately we had a couple of shifts go right for us, and we had some pretty good boatspeed all weekend and were able to get it going, pick a couple of shifts, and it just dropped it. Harry had somewhat of a bad race, and he’s one of the tops in Seattle. We felt pretty good to kind of stay with him [during the regatta], and then we were able to catch a couple of shifts and make out on it.
Bad races were fairly common with your fleet. Everyone had at least one double-digit finish. What caused even the top guys to struggle on occasion?
We had two different things going on. One was the current on the right side, there was a little bit of relief, and the left side, there was a little westerly that would come in. And [which side was favored] was different on different legs. So you had to pick which way you were going to go. We were able to, the majority of the time, pick the right side and be able to do that.
I imagine it must’ve been pretty stressful making that choice each race, especially in the predominantly light conditions?
Yes, there were a lot of races. We weren’t really planning on doing that many races. It was great. The race committee did a great job putting this together. We had great lines, they were long enough for the number of boats that we had. Next weekend will be a little more challenging. Big tides and the weather’s supposed to change, so [it’ll be] a whole different program.
Tell us about your crew?
My bow person is Peg Pritchard, she’s been sailing with me for almost five years. My wife, who’s been with me for 20 years, Joy Okazaki. I also have Justin [Fallstrom] who’s been sailing with me for about 8 years on my boat and a lot of other boats. Then I have Bob Pistay, who we picked up, he’s been sailing with me for a year. We have a great team.
Tell is a little about yourself. Is Seattle your hometown?
What do you do for a living?
I’m retired. I put 30 years in for an ultrasound company that used to be ATL and became Phillips. I retired two years ago.
And you’ve been enjoying the time off with some sailing.
I’ve had a little bit of hardship. I broke my ankle and my thumb in different accidents. I was sailing with three pins in my thumb last year.
Are you still setting off the metal detectors?
No, those are all gone.
Since you’re retired, you won’t be able to use work as an excuse for missing the NOOD Championship rendezvous in the British Virgin Islands in Seattle.
That’s right. I think our team will [be there]. We’re also looking at a very high probability of going down to Argentina [for the 2011 J/24 World Championship].
May 16, 2010
Check out this TV coverage of the regatta on Seattle’s K5 news.
|**Michael Johnson’s Hot Pursuit came from behind to win J/24 Northwest Regional Championship on the final race. Hot Pursuit was virtually tied with two other boats going into the final of 14 races in the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD Regatta, but pulled out a second in the final race to win the event and the overall honors. **|
May 15, 2010
|**Another spectacular evening in Seattle, with the sun setting over the Olympic Mountain Range **|
Some nice coverage from the Seattle Times of yesterday’s racing, including the lead photo on the front page of the sports section and this video.
Also don’t forget to check out Tim Wilkes photo gallery from Day 1. Beautiful day of racing with both Mount Ranier and the Olympic Range visible most of the day.
Today is looking much the same, though the breeze forecast is a little unsettled. We’ll have 177 boats on three circles racing today.
May 14, 2010
Sun, wind, one-design racing. Who could ask for anything more? The two keelboat circles are enjoying a fabulous day for racing. It’s a little light, but the breeze is expected to build with a little help from the thermal. And with the party starting at 6:30 p.m., an hour later than normal, both circles should get in three, if not four, races.
The Seattle Times published a nice preview of the NOOD Regatta in Friday’s edition. You can also find it online, click here. Plus we had a video and a still photographer out today, so we’ll hope for some more coverage tomorrow.
May 13, 2010
|**A Bellevue, Wash., high rise catches the setting sun on Lake Washington. **|
Sunburned in Seattle
Someone told me the other day that Seattle only gets 30 days of sun a year. I have no idea if that’s true. It sounds a little suspect. And what qualifies as a “day of sun”?
That said, the Pacific Northwest’s reputation—as a damp place—is warranted according to anyone I’ve ever asked about it. So if you live here, I hope you’re set to take advantage of this weekend because it’s shaping up to be spectacular. Today was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures in the high 60s. Friday and Saturday are shaping up to be similar. Of course the best way to take advantage of the nice weather is to sail in the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta. But I’m sure you knew that.
|**On board Jim Frazier’s Thunderbird during Wednesday night racing on Lake Washington. **|
I flew into Seattle a day early and joined the local Thunderbird fleet for its Wednesday night series. It was a bit of a scramble to make the 4 p.m. dock rendezvous on Lake Union—I was in my hotel room for all of 5 minutes before hopping on board Jim Frazier’s Thunderbird—but it was well worth the effort. The motor out to the course on Lake Washington gave me a fabulous tour of the two lakes and the connecting canal. There’s few better ways to get a look at a city than from the water. You can always get a good feel for a city’s character from its waterfront. Seattle, so far, is looking impressive. The Lake Union waterfront is as interesting as you’ll find. Quite a treat. I’ll be able to form a more complete opinion after getting out on the water to watch Friday’s racing on Puget Sound.
The racing was challenging. I’m definitely still in Laser mode after a season of frostbiting and the breeze was tough to track, shifting through 45 degrees during the course of the night. The Thunderbird class has no problem trading paint. We got into a three-boat fender bender on Race 2. “Ahh, that’s nothing,” said Frazier afterwards, while surveying the damage. Otherwise we stayed relatively clean. The port layline was not our friend. Twice we had to execute substantial ducks to get around the first windward mark. Oh well, I’m sure the first of many keelboat lessons I’ll be re-learning this summer. I’ll try to pick up a few more over the weekend from the press boat. Hopefully it’ll help ease me back in, the Newport J/24 season started this week.
May 11, 2010
Six Fleets Gear Up for Championships at the Seattle NOOD
The 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD Regatta is gearing up with 6 fleets racing for a Championship.
Those classes include:
• Etchells Worlds Qualifier
• J/24 Western Regionals
• San Juan 24 North American Championship,
• Santana 20 Northwest District Championship
• Deception Mini 12’s Season Class Championship
• International Formula 18 Pacific Northwest Championship
The J/24 class will be following up the Seattle NOOD with their North American Championship at the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle, May 19-23, 2010.