Thursday, January 11, 2018

New York YC Awards Feature J/70 Sailors!

J/70 woman skipper- Heather Gregg of MUSE(New York, NY)-  The top Corinthians sailors at the recent J/70 North Americans included Heather Gregg’s MUSE and Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY; both received awards from NYYC Commodore Phil Lotz.  In addition, current J/70 World Champion Peter Duncan received the Mosbacher Trophy.

What do the current J/70, Etchells and Farr 40 World Champions have in common? They're all members of the New York Yacht Club. The competition for the Club's 2017 Mosbacher Trophy, the Club's “Sailor of the Year Award”, couldn't have been closer.

Peter Duncan- Skipper Relative ObscurityAs impressive as it was, Peter Duncan's win in September's 162-boat J/70 World Championship merely earned him a seat at the finalists' table. What tipped things in his favor was a track record of strong finishes in two other classes. Duncan also had a strong year in the Etchells, including a third in the Atlantic Coast Championships and a third overall in the 2016- '17 Biscayne Bay Winter Series, and he was sixth in the Melges 24 National Championships.  Here is Stu Streuli’s interview with Peter after the celebration at the 44th Street club event.

Reportedly, you attended the awards under a misapprehension? Did you really not know you were up for the Mosbacher?
I knew a little bit before it was announced. I was thinking that I was going to watch my sister, Peggy Comfort, receive an award. That's why I was going here. But I figured it out when I realized she was getting on a plane to go to Europe.

What's your reaction to winning the award, especially since you do so much sailing in western Long Island Sound, where Bus Mosbacher forged his legend more than half a century ago?
He was one of the greatest sailors who ever lived, and this is just an incredible honor. It's truly a hell of an accomplishment. To see the quality of the other nominees this year; it's unbelievable what the membership did this year. I'm still in a little bit of shock that I received the award. I'm most appreciative.

Did you ever meet him (Bus)?
I did when I was much younger, at an event at American Yacht Club. I don't remember an awful lot. But I was in awe. He was of a different era, a tremendous success on the water and in the business world. That's been a great example for me to live by.

Your capstone achievement was a win in the J/70 Worlds in Sardinia, where you beat 161 boats. How do you go best that large a fleet?
The fleet was split into four different groups, and in the qualifier series we raced against each of the other groups, so you only had 80 boats on the staring line. I enjoy sailing in big fleets and starting on big starting lines. It was very exciting, and you can get buried rapidly if you make a mistake.

Why are you so comfortable in such big fleets?
Because I've raced Etchells for a number of years. I think the most Etchells we ever had on a starting line was 103 up in Marblehead, back in '98, which we did really well in. I'm kind of used to it. Now the J/70 class is getting very large numbers on the line. Earlier last year, we did a Melges 24 regatta that had about 85 boats on the starting line. In addition to the size of the fleet, the weather played a role, with mistral conditions cancelling the first two days of a four-day event, leaving just one day for qualifying and one day for the finals. It worked out well for us because it was a little more compact and we came out of the blocks as quickly as we did. You had to be on your toes in all moments in that event.

What have you found to be the secrets to success in the J/70?
You've got to work the boat all the time; you have to be very active. The helm is very neutral, so they're sometimes very hard to steer. It's just a matter of really working the boat always. That was something that we tried to excel in last year.

Does cross training really benefit you in sailing?
So many sailors specialize in one class at a time. I think it's always good to sail against different people and in different classes to get a general sense of how other people look at things. [The Etchells and J/70] in particular are different. We also sailed the Melges 24 Worlds and Nationals last year, which were a great help as well. The more sailing you can do, the better off you are. We took it to the extreme last year; we were on the water a lot

Any particular reason you were able to sail so much in 2017?
It was due to a confluence of things working out, and having a really nice family that afforded me the opportunity to take that much time off.

Aside from the Worlds, is there anything else that stands out?
The thing that really got us very jazzed up what when we won the Italian J/70 Nationals in late July. We sailed against a lot of the top boats that were going to sail in the J/70 Worlds, and we won the last race on the last day and that was very satisfying.

After this year, with the J/70 World title and the Mosbacher, has your sailing bucket list gotten any shorter?
I'm not sure. We're going to be out there pounding away again. Just to let everybody know that we're still around. We're going to be doing a significant amount of both Etchells and J/70 sailing this year, just like we did last year, and focusing on the Worlds like we did in each of the classes. Add to Flipboard Magazine.