Making the Misty Mountain Hop

At the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, Tom and Carol McIntosh are learning by leaps and bounds aboard their J/111 Misty.

Sailing World

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The crew of the J/111 Misty (left to right): bowman Mike Gallo, main trimmer Jorgen Johnson, mastman John Johnson, trimmer Dave Michaels, pit/co-owner Carol McIntosh, skipper/co-owner Tom McIntosh, floater Morgan Gates, tactician Ian Gates, Gerry Gherardini.Michael Lovett

For Tom and Carol McIntosh, as it is for so many Chicago racers, the highlight of the sailing season is the annual Chicago YC Race to Mackinac. They've been doing the 333-mile race for years, and this year, they'll be doing it on their dream Mac boat—the J/111.

"Because we do the Mac every year," says Misty skipper Tom McIntosh, "we wanted a boat that would be faster for us to come home on, and would be more fun to sail. Carol and I sail doublehanded back from Mackinac Island, and when we went out and sailed [the J/111] last summer, we said, 'Oh boy. With the roller furler—and we can use an asymetrical when it's light—we'll make so much better time than we did before.

"It's a really simple boat," continues McIntosh. "We went with the Antal sail slides, which makes it really simple to go out sailing. And, you can go pretty fast. Last weekend, we did 11 knots downwind, right alongside the Farr 40s."

There are six J/111s competing here at the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, making this the largest gathering in the class' short history. The 36-footer won "Best One-Design Keelboat" in Sailing World's 2011 Boat of the Year Contest. Apparently, Midwestern sailors agree with SW's BOTY judges, as they've been quick to embrace the new one-design. Racing the J/111 Kontiki, Jim Smincheck's Cleveland-based team won the PHRF 1 division at 2011 Key West Race Week. There are three J/111s in Detroit, and there will be as many as eight racing at the Ugotta Regatta in Harbor Springs, Mich., in July.

Local boat broker Rich Stearns has been instrumental in getting Chicago's J/111 fleet off the ground. At last weekend's Colors Regatta, hosted by Columbia YC, Stearns and a local sailmaker went boat to boat helping his clients get up to speed. Misty's main trimmer, Jorgen Johnson, found the sessions to be incredibly valuable—a shortcut to success. "They showed us what the boat likes," says Johnson. "That makes the learning process a lot quicker than if we had to learn it ourselves. They were telling us, 'Do this, do that. Here's the basics. Work with this, and then fine tune.' That was really, really helpful.

"We're learning," continues Johnson. "But we're getting there quickly. That's what's interesting with this fleet. All the boats are very close, and they're all going very fast!"

Through two races, Karl Brummel's _Kashmir leads the fleet with a pair of bullets. For complete results, click here._