The 43rd Annual J/24 East Coast Championship was held with a three-day regatta October 22-24 in Annapolis, MD. This had been a “must stop” for all the top teams around the country for years. In its heyday, the score sheet listed over 90 boats and boasted the top names in sailing and J/24s. In addition to the challenging breezes in the Chesapeake, the mix frequently added challenging fall weather conditions—flat calms, northeasters, cold fronts—you could frankly expect to find anything and frequently did. In some ways, it made the regatta special because you could never predict what you would get. And to add to the challenges, who would not like to be in Annapolis in October? Who can challenge Annapolis’ sailing supremacy in October? Frequently traditions such as the J/24 East Coasts die a slow but inevitable death as lives change, boat ownership becomes fickle and the world moves on. And frankly, this was starting to happen to this regatta a few years ago until a small group of dedicated sailors decided it was too good a regatta to let die. Those key people—Pat and Kelly Fitzgerald, Sam McGuire and Tony Parker—decided to make it again a “go to” J/24 regatta. Interest and participation grew and really caught fire this year. Twenty-one quality teams showed up. The racing could not have been more challenging and intense. It started in the first race Friday: a dying northwesterly that taunted the teams, mixed up the placings and finally decided to die a few minutes before the 90-minute time limit expired before the first boat finished. The re-run first and second race were completed on Friday with Tony Parker and the Bangor Packet team ending the day in first with two firsts, closely followed by Aidan Glackin and the Mental Floss team with 5 points and Pat Fitzgerald and the Rush Hour team with 8 points. Quantum Sails hosted a post-race debrief in their new facilities in the recently vacated APS store location, complete with pizza and beer. Travis Odenbach led the lively discussion and was assisted by Kris Werner of Quantum, Zeke Horowitz of North Sails, James Niblock, Molly White and others. Saturday started windless and bleak. Fortunately, the Race Committee postponed for three hours on shore, with the fleet leaving for the race course at 1300. Two challenging races were run, complete with a 150-degree wind shift between the two races. The Race Committee, one of the most dogged Race Committees ever encountered, tried to get a third race off for the day but was drowned out by a deluge and another 60 degree windshift. At the end of the day, Tony Parker had increased his lead, followed by Bill Fastiggi and the Whiskey River team in second and a very tight group in third that included Mike Stasko and the Redline team, Aidan Glackin and Jim Bonham and the SISU team. The party was frankly the best of the year with 300 fresh oysters, ream of crab & Maryland crab soups, barbeque, music and beer flowing. The sign of a good party is how long people stayed…and stay they did, much to their discomfort the next morning for the 10AM start. Sunday, the last day of the regatta, was epic. Five races in less than 5 hours. Breeze was 8 to 14 out of the south with lots of holes and small random shifts. Tony Parker’s Bangor Packet managed to stay in phase for most of the day and finished the regatta going away. Mike Stasko finished in second place, followed closely by Mike Wilde and the Goin’ Left team, Bill Fastiggi in fourth & Aidan Glackin in fifth. The winners, though, were the racers who experienced nine challenging races, two fun parties, great comradery and a commitment to return next year while also encouraging their J/24 friends to join them.

Link to the full results:

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