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Loren Thompson

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Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 01:45 pm:   

J/42L Best Performing Cruiser Under 78 Feet in West Marine CARIB 1500

Loren and Al from Kahuna crewed on 'Eight Bells' in the 2001 Caribbean 1500 and had a fantastic time racing for 8 days. Loren helmed for 4 hours one night in the Gulf Stream and reached a top speed of almost 13 knots. We recommend it as a great way to experience a Blue Water/Atlantic sailing/racing trip. More race information is at

Peter & Carol Willauer's toreador red J/42L 'Eight Bells' finished 1st in Class and 2nd Overall behind a 78' ketch in the 52 boat fleet which endured 94 hours of heavy air (2 reefs and 85% jib) in 25-30 knots and 12 foot seas. One boat was abandoned off Bermuda and another two dropped out for repairs.

Peter reports that the J/42 is a "remarkable" sea boat, never once putting the stemhead under when broad-reaching down the face of large seas…and never once taking a breaking wave from aft onto the deck. The boat was fast enough to surf down the wave ahead of the crests. Even more amazing, he said, was how the boat dealt with the cross waves in the Gulf Stream. Because of the low freeboard, stability and clean decks, the crests of steep cross-waves simply washed across the hull with no tendency to roll the boat…hardly affecting the forward motion at all. Closest boats in terms of performance under the conditions were the Swan 44 and Swan 46, which corrected out 6 and 4 hours behind the J/42L respectively.

EIGHT BELLS spent more time sailing than all but two boats in the fleet, using its engine for only 16% of the time (33 hours) over 202:10 hours elapsed time and most of that was on the last day, bee-lining to Tortola in light, moderate air since they still at 22 gallons left. A number of the boats used their engines 50-60% of the time. On the Carib 1500 the amount of engine time is added to the elapsed time for the race. Peter said some boats had their decks littered with plastic jerry jugs of fuel. The J/42 L was the smallest boat in Class 3, yet corrected out 63 hours ahead of the 2nd boat in its Class, a Baltic 43 which finished 26 hours behind the J/42, rated 6 seconds per mile faster and used the engine 67 hours.

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