Tuesday, May 17, 2016

J/70 North Americans Preview

J/70 sailing off start (Seabrook, TX)- The 2016 J/70 North American Championships are being held on sunny, warm Galveston Bay southwest of Houston, TX.  Hosted for the event is the amazing Lakewood YC, famous for being the host of the annual J/Fest Southwest!  Forty-two boats are participating with teams from across the USA, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil.  While the fleet may be more diminutive than past events, the quality of the fleet is truly world-class- with World, Pan AM and North American Champions in J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, Lightnings and Etchells 22s all in the mix.

Perhaps the most impressive group pound-for-pound may be the foreign contingent beating a path to the world’s largest “honky tonks” to do battle with many top notch sailors that call Galveston Bay home port.  The two Brazilian teams from Rio de Janeiro (host of the 2016 sailing Olympics) include Mauricio Santa Cruz and Harold Solberg’s OCEANPACT and Phil Haegler’s CLOUD NINE.  A past J/24 Japanese Champion and offshore TP52 World Champion that will be testing the waters against top J/70 teams will be Makeo Uematsu sailing ESMERALDA from Tokyo, Japan.  The top Mexican team is back, with World Champion Julian Fernandez from Club Nautico Valle de Bravo near Mexico City, sailing on FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO with Etchells 22 World Champion and Rolex US Yachtsman of the Year Bill Hardesty on mainsheet/ tactics.

The host contingent from Texas will be fielding several well-known crews that have proven they can top the leaderboard, including three teams from Fort Worth Boat Club- Bruno Pasquinelli’s ascendant crew on STAMPEDE, J/70 Midwinter Champion Glenn Darden on HOSS and Rich Shaffer on USA 820; four from Lakewood YC- Jack Franco’s 3BALL JT, Jay Lutz’s ZOUNDS POWER BY NAUTALYTICS, Al Poindexter’s USA 98, and Doug Strebel’s BLACK RIVER RACING; and two from Austin YC- Matt Romberg/ Terry Flynn’s USA 175 and Bruce McDonald’s ROGUE WARRIOR.

From out West, three crews have made the trek across the Arizona and New Mexico deserts to compile more practice/ training time against top crews in preparation for the J/70 Worlds in San Francisco.  Those crews include West Coast Champion Bruce Golison on MIDLIFE CRISIS from Alamitos Bay YC, Peter Vessella’s RUNNING WILD from St Francis YC, Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE from San Diego YC, and Tracy & Christy Usher’s CHRISTINE ROBIN from St Francis YC.

The Midwest contingent is strong, well-represented by Bob Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER from Macatawa Bay YC in Michigan, Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT from Wayzata YC in Minnesota, Bob & Jess Willis’s IZULA from Columbia YC in Chicago, Jim Prendergast’s USA 167 from Chicago YC, John Trey Sheehan’s HOOLIGAN: FLAT STANLEY RACING from Put-in-Bay YC in Ohio, and Travis Odenbach/ Dave Kerr’s USA 364 from Edgewater YC in Ohio.

Despite the fact that Seabrook, TX is about 1,800 miles from many J/70 fleets on the East Coast, none of the top teams attending could possibly pass up the best Tex-Mex cuisine and awesome tequila/ margarita refreshments on offer in the southernmost parts of ‘Merica! On a more practical note, a vast majority of the teams are taking the opportunity to ship boats west via Houston as part of their plans to sail the J/70 Worlds in September on San Francisco Bay.  Included in that group are three boats from Annapolis YC- Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND, and Kristen & Brian Robinson’s ZOMBIE; Dave Franzel’s SPRING from Boston; Brandon Flack’s TORQEEDO from Stonington; Dan & Gannon Troutman’s PIED PIPER from Virginia; Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY from New York; Henry Brauer’s RASCAL from Marblehead; and Brian Keane’s SAVASANA from Buzzards Bay.   For more J/70 North American Championship sailing information