J/24 Fleet 43 Making Racing Happen During Covid
Thanks to Molly White for this report: All over the country and the world, areas are in a variety of phases with varied restrictions that are making it challenging for our sport and Maine is no different. However, rather than wait for everything to reopen, J/24 Fleet 43 decided to think outside of the box to get racing going sooner rather than later. Each year Fleet 43 holds the J/24 Double Handed Regatta as part of their summer long Tonini Series. This event is usually held the Monday of Labor Day Weekend for J/24 crews of 2, who compete in 2 to 4 windward/leeward courses and usually one around the buoys course. Having recently lost a favorite fleet member, Rich Degrandpre, who loved racing double handed, it was decided to rename the regatta the Degrandpre Double Handed. This year, it was also decided to move the event earlier in the season since double handed sailing fit nicely with the current phase 1 restrictions of socially distancing and staying within your family bubble. In addition to changing the date, the event organizers decided to open up the event to all boats-so instead of just having a J/24 class, they had PHRF Racing Double Handed and Cruising Double Handed divisions. Lastly, entire families could also sail in the racing and cruising divisions, allowing families to sail together. Meeting state guidelines, the registration was online, the NOR, SIs, and scratch sheet were emailed to competitors and the skipper’s meeting was held via Zoom. Boats rendez-voused at a pre-decided mark where they met the Race Committee and checked in. The PHRF and Cruising divisions started first and second, setting off on one of the 3 preset courses that were included in the Sailing Instructions. Once clear of the start, the RC held 3 windward/leeward courses for the J/24 racers. (Only 3 because the breeze died.) The teams of two worked together to do the work of the usual 5, most challenging was the windward spinnaker take down. Once racing was completed for the day, many racers returned home happy to have spent a day on the water. The results were read, videoed and shared on Facebook with a promise of custom awards to be delivered in the near future. Although it took some thinking, planning, and help from many, there were several positive takeaways from this event.
- 30 boats came out for the event from 4 different yacht clubs and sailing organizations
- 9 J/24s from our local fleet participated in the event
- Some teams sailed their very first race
- There were multiple families on the racecourse; full families with young children, siblings, aunts & nephews, husbands & wives, and dogs.
- There were several father daughter teams, many with dad crewing
- Each team faced challenges yet there didn’t seem to be any yelling.
- We successfully went racing while following the rules!
Sailing organizations are encouraged to keep thinking outside the box so that we can keep racing. If we wait until this all blows over, we may be waiting a while.