Thanks to J/24 Fleet 8 for this report: It was another fantastic fall weekend of racing in Annapolis for the J/24 East Coast Championship J/22 Mid Atlantic Championship on October 27-29. Teams traveled from as far as Nova Scotia and Florida to join in on the fun and vie for the top competition in both Classes. Twenty-four J/24 teams raced Friday through Sunday, joined by 24 J/22 teams Saturday and Sunday.
On Land Festivities: We’ll get to the action on the water in a moment – the highlight on land was the Saturday evening dinner and dance party. Starting at 1800, over 180 J sailors enjoyed dinner by Annapolis Smokehouse under the tent. Shortly afterward, The Shatners, an ultra-popular Annapolis cover band got going, as did the flip-cup challenge between the 24s and 22s. The crowd demanded two encores of the band before they finally allowed them off the stage. When sailors came off the water Saturday, the beer truck was their first stop, then on to the racing recap organized by North Sails’ Mike Marshall. Mike brought together a cohort of world class sailors, including Allan Terhune, Willem van Waay, Cory Sertl and Matt Schubert. The breeze was in the mid-teens all day so the focus was on rig settings, steering in waves and determining how to pick the favored side. Travis Odenbach from Quantum Sails led the Friday dock talk, which also included professional sailor Willem van Waay, Mike Coe from Quantum and Evan Petley-Jones from Halifax, NS. In addition to discussing rig settings and depowering techniques, Willem van Waay gave the crowd an advanced course on using the ProStart. Meanwhile, Lyon Distilling was mixing their special rum into Dark & Stormys, and the crowd was enjoying oyster shooters and two hot soup offerings.
On The Water Recap: Friday and Saturday brought classic fall Chesapeake Bay top-end-of-the-genoa conditions with big waves and chop. In those technique-intensive conditions, Mark Hillman, Travis Odenbach and Tony Parker collected 21 of the 24 available top three finishes over eight races. The consensus from these teams was that lots of twist, minimizing helm movements and infrequent tacking seemed to be the three top components to upwind success. By Saturday evening, eight of the nine races scheduled were in the books, led by Principal Race Officer Juliet Thompson. The final race on Sunday featured wind speeds of 3 to 10 knots, with wind directions ranging from Northerly to Southeasterly. Despite the hazards inherent in these conditions, the final results were little changed.
Results: Now, on to the best part...the awards! J/24 Class veteran Stu Challoner and his team on Spoilsport captured the top Corinthian Award with a strong fifth place finish. Fleet 8 Captain Pat Fitzgerald and the Rush Hour team finished fourth. Past winners Travis Odenbach and the Honey Badger team took third, and Tony Parker and the Bangor Packet team took second place. Finally, congratulations to the 2017 J/24 East Coast Champions: Mark Hillman, James Bonham, Willem van Waay, Monica Morgan and George Peet on SISU!
Thank You Sponsors: A big thank you to the Gold sponsors The Rigging Company and Tony Parker’s Parker-Tide for their financial support. Stacey E. Andersen Law continued to support the event as a Silver sponsor this year. Bronze sponsors included Hillman Capital Management, FitzGerald Design Build and Boatyard Bar & Grill. Thank you to North Sails, Quantum Sails, APS, Charm City Meadworks and Lyon Distilling for their in-kind contributions to the regatta.
As the teams packed-up their boats, much of the conversation revolved around how much fun was had and how enjoyable the fall racing in Annapolis was. Mark your calendar for the 2018 J/24 East Coast Championship on October 26-28 in Annapolis!
Pictured left to right: Willem van Waay, Monica Morgan, James Bonham (owner), George Peet, Mark Hillman (skipper). Photo credit: Luke Pelican