The Florida Yacht Club’s annual King’s Day Regatta held November 19-21 in Jacksonville served as the 74th Southeastern Championship for the J/24 Class and as a qualifier for next summer’s World Championship. Mark Liebel and his crew from Sarasota Sailing Squadron turned in a dominant performance, going 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 6, and 1 for the weekend. Paul Abdullah of Florida Yacht Club and his crew on Team Tarheel also qualified for the Worlds to be held July 14-22 in Corpus Christi, TX. Third place in the 25-boat field went to Aidan Glackin of Huntington, NY and the crew of Mental Floss. “The competition was very good,” Liebel said. “Going into the weekend, we felt as if there were numerous boats that could win the regatta.” Liebel was joined by Will Welles, Chris Morgan, Jordan Wiggins and Tim Ambrose. Saturday’s weather, typical for King’s Day, brought northeast winds of 15-18 knots and gusts to 20 knots. Most of the competitors opted for jibs in the early races. The nor’easter also created a fair amount of chop. “Saturday’s conditions were challenging,” Abdullah said. “The bottom of the course had a bigger chop than the top, and I had to change my setup on each tack. I really focused on boat speed rather than point.” Abdullah’s crew was Ian Hunter, Scott Griffin, Nancy Gilreath and Tucker Gilliam. Abdullah on Team Tarheel took third in Race 1 behind Liebel and Travis Odenbach. Race 2 was won by Greg Griffin on MaJic, another Florida Yacht Club entry, followed by Liebel and Abdullah. Griffin said, “It was fun sailing with great friends against one of the most competitive King’s Day Regatta fleets I have ever seen.” Saturday wound down with the King’s Day’s traditional pasta dinner, which may have been a little chillier than most. It had begun with a tribute to Steve Buchanan, an accomplished J/24 sailor who passed away this fall. Competitors awoke Sunday to ideal weather conditions on the St. Johns River. Wind at the first start stayed between 10 and 12 knots from the northeast with mostly smooth chop. Another local skipper, Dan Borrer, claimed the top spot in Sunday’s first race, followed by Liebel and Glackin. The second race went to Tim Monahan of the Florida Yacht Club on 6 Feet. Liebel grabbed the final race. The King’s Day Regatta takes its name from a race of sailing-ship longboats held on the St. Johns in 1775 to celebrate the birthday of King George III. It was first held in 1978 and has featured one-design racing for more than 20 years. The regatta is co-hosted by the Florida Yacht Club and J/24 Fleet 55.


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