Thursday, May 11, 2017

Exciting J/80 Class Updates!

J/80s sailing offshore (Annapolis, MD)- The J/80 Class recently finalized a merger of the USA and Canada Associations to create the J/80 North American Class Association and our announcement of our first annual J/80 West Coast Championship.

You may have sensed a buzz in the air lately or seen a smile on the face of Annapolis sailor Ramzi Bannura, J/80 Stacked Deck, when mentioning the future of the J/80 North American Class; he is the new J/80 North American Class Association president, and he’s fired up!

“It’s been an exciting two years,” says Bannura. “We recently finalized the merger of J/80 Class Associations of Canada and the United States to officially form the J/80 North American Class Association along with new branding. A lot of fresh energy that’s been pumped into the organization comes from our friends north of the border including now those on the West Coast!”

The largest J/80 fleet however remains in Annapolis with nearly thirty boats strong, home waters of John White, champion of last year’s J/80 North American Championship held in Toronto, Ontario last August. The fleet always has a strong showing at local events such as the Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD (this year May 5-7), among other one-design events.  The Annapolis Fleet 10 especially makes a strong showing during J/World’s signature Thursday Night Summer racing series.

“Our Thursday night series approaches 20 boats each week,” says Bannura. “If you consider that for a moment, sometimes we don’t get those numbers at the NOODs, in Charleston or elsewhere unless it’s a championship event. Of course, it’s partly due to our local strong fleet and especially J/World’s continued support with all the great things they continue to do for J/80 members; providing training opportunities for crew to master boat handling skills as well as offer a fresh wave of graduates to sail on the private boats. It’s been an amazing synergy we’ve had with J/World for many years that we value greatly.”

The enormous allure of J/World Thursday night racing series could also be attributed to the assured excitement on a work night.

“We may show up to the yacht club at 5 p.m., put boat on water, start racing by 6:30, bang out up to three short yet competitive races—which is the most amazing thrill; and we get our boat back to the dock and out of the water by sunset.” It’s these sailing opportunities that keep the local fleet strong, competitive and refined as well as peaks the interest of newcomers to the local fleet.

What is amazing in today’s racing landscape is the recent measurable growth spurt in the J/80 class after a plateau over the past five years or so. “We’re not sure why exactly”, says Bannura, “the boats continue to be sought after and seem to hold their value… I think at the end of the day, when folks want a stable, fun and safe racer for hardcore competition or for family fun, they turn to the J/80,” says Bannura.

The continued challenge and opportunity for the Association is to ensure that new sailors coming onboard have the support they need on a local level to get to know the class rules, boat-weighing process, as well as performance tips and tricks. There is endless energy from existing boat owners and crew to pass along the knowledge to establish these competitors so when they are seen on the course, it elevates the overall competitiveness of the fleet and prepares them for global competition.

On a larger geographic scale, the Class has made a conscious effort to diversify its events. The East Coast Championships and many of the North American events take place on the East Coast, but the fleet is now expanding its reach. An annual West Coast Championship event will unfold (October 2017) on Puget Sound off Seattle, WA. “I’m thrilled to see the traction the Class is gaining on the West Coast, expect more exciting things to come,” says Bannura.

The East Coast Championship events will happen at some new, accessible spots surrounded by J/80 growth and energy, such as the 2018 East Coast Championships in Booth Bay Harbor, ME, and 2018 North American Championships in Marion, MA.  Although, this year’s North American Championship will be in Annapolis in October hosted by Eastport YC. The Association hopes to successfully bid the J/80 Worlds back to North America over the next few years.

“It’s exciting to see what 2017 may bring,” says Bannura. “If the flood of Class Association memberships and boat inquiries is a testament of things to come, it’s going to be a banner year.”

If you are interested in learning more about the J/80 class, membership, boats for sale, fleet contacts, etc, please visit the NEW website. Add to Flipboard Magazine.