J/111 Challwa: Winning the Peruvian Offshore Series Is a Family Affair

German Fuchs’ J/111 Challwa was the smallest boat in the fleet in the Peruvian Offshore Series, but Fuchs and his crew—including his son-in-law and grandsons—took home the biggest prize.

The Challwa Crew - After winning the 205 Sin Fronteras Championship

The Peruvian Offshore Series—Peru’s premiere sailing event—is made up of twelve regattas, with one event held each month. German Fuchs’s J/111 Challwa took on a fleet of much larger boats to win the gold medal for the best overall performance.

Challwa means fisherman in Quechua, the ancient language of the Andes, and according to Fuchs is the only J/111 in South America. The boat is based at the Peruvian Yacht Club in Lima’s Port of Callao. They were the smallest boat and the only racer/cruiser in the fleet racing against larger specialty boats like the Soto 48R, Grand Soleil 42R, Sydney 46R, Dufour 44P, and others.

“It’s a racing boat and a family boat also. The other boats are all strictly racing boats and larger boats. So it’s a huge accomplishment for the J/111 to win in that fleet,” says Fuchs.

The format of the regatta is a combination of windward-leeward courses and offshore races. To be competitive, Fuchs called on Quantum’s Kerry Klingler to help optimize the boat for ORC racing. Klingler traveled to Peru to race with Challwa in 2013 Copa del Pacifico held in Paracas, Peru.

The class mainsail for the J/111 has oversized girths, so Klingler designed a smaller mainsail that takes advantage of the ORC rating. Then they improved the inventory of jibs and added larger spinnakers and specialty sails like the Code 0 and spinnaker staysail. They also made rigging adjustments like removing the headstay furler to reduce weight and provide easy access to the headstay turnbuckle for on-the-fly adjustments to the rig.

“We have developed a very nice set of sails to perform well in the ORC class,” says Fuchs.

Fuchs has been sailing since 1970. “A friend of mine had a sailboat and he invited me to go with him. That lit under me the fire of sailing and I haven’t stopped since,” he says. Now he’s passed on his love of sailing to his children and grandchildren.

He sails Challwa throughout the summer with his wife, children, and grandchildren, and races the boat year round with a crew of eight that includes his son-in-law and two grandsons who are only 13 and 14 years old.

Cruising day - Fuchs' youngest grandson at the helm.

“My oldest grandson is 14 years old and already he’s almost six feet tall. The other one is 13 years old and is very tiny. The tiny one helps on the bow and the other one helps in the cockpit.”

Of his motivation to bring them into sailing, Fuchs says, “I hope the first thing they should learn about sailing is commitment, organization, and hard work.”

Fuchs has a long relationship with J/Boats having helped to build the J/24 and J/105 fleets in South America. Conditions in Peru are generally light, with winds between six and 12 knots, a year-round temperature of 65 degrees, and very calm seas. While there are up to 70 J/24s in Chile alone, Fuchs says most regattas host only around 20 boats. He says sailing is probably the third most popular sport in Peru, after soccer and tennis.

Challwa also won the 2015 Sin Fronteras regatta, which includes boats from Peru, Ecuador, and Chile racing offshore courses up to 50 nautical miles long. In 2014, Fuchs traveled with five other crewmembers from Peru to Port Huron, MI, to race the Bayview Mackinac Race. They chartered Brad Farber’s J/111 Utah temporarily rechristening it Challwa.

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