Monday, March 19, 2018

Foster Crowned J/22 Midwinter Champion

J/22s starting Midwinters (Houston, TX)- Four J/22 World Champions finished in the top five of the 2018 J/22 Midwinter Championship, an event hosted by Houston YC and sailed on the muddy waters of Galveston Bay.  However, it was 1999 Champion Mark Foster on PRESSURE DROP who edged out fellow Texan Terry Flynn on TEJAS to earn the title on a tie-breaker.

Both teams had 23 points net, but Foster’s bullets secured the top spot. Fellow past World Champions Mike Marshall on BAD NEWS and Chris Doyle on THE JUG 4 1 finished third and fifth, respectively, with Travis Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER in fourth.

Thirty-nine teams completed eight races on Friday and Saturday, however light winds today did not allow the final scheduled contest. With 39 boats on the line, this attendance matched the highest for a J/22 Midwinter Championship since 2008.  Here is what transpired on those first two days.

J/22 Midwinters off Houston, TXDay 1- Light and shifty
Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER led the field after day one. Four races were completed in a smorgasbord of conditions from overcast clouds to sun and winds from light and shifty to solid breeze between off and on rain showers.

Doug Weakly’s HNL opened the regatta with a bullet, ahead of HONEYBADGER Flynn’s TEJAS. Marshall’s BAD NEWS earned the next victory, with the two Doyle’s behind him— Kevin’s MO’MONEY and Chris’s THE JUG 4 1. Chris Doyle took race 3 followed by Odenbach and Marshall. Race 4 saw some new names with Foster’s PRESSURE DROP at the top followed by Danny Pletsch’s SKETCHY and Chris Doyle in third.

As a result, Odenbach’s team of Justin Damore and Kris Werner were leading with a 2-4-27 for 15 pts.  Following in second was Chris Doyle’s crew of Will Harris and Adam Burns from Youngstown YC with a 9-3-1-3 for 16 pts.  Sitting in third was Marshall’s crew with a 5-1-3-8 for 17 pts.

J/22 crew sailing at chute setDay 2- More Light stuff
On what was the penultimate, then final day of racing, the luck of the Irish on St Patrick’s Day was with Foster’s PRESSURE DROP. Posting a line of 1-3-4-3, Foster won the day and moved to the top of the leader board tied with his old friend and Texas neighbor Terry Flynn on TEJAS.

After a postponement ashore, racing started just before noon. In light but steady winds, race five was won by Foster’s PRESSURE DROP, with Flynn’s TEJAS and Alexander Hanna following in second and third. Pletch’s SKETCHY jumped to the top spot in race six followed by Kevin Orff’s TROUBLEMAKER and then Foster. Then, Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER took race seven followed by Flynn and Doyle’s MO’MONEY. As the conditions continued to improve, the RC squeezed in an eighth race that was won by Doyle’s THE JUG 4 1, followed by Flynn and Foster, respectively.

J/22 spinnakersAs a result, with no winds on Sunday, Foster’s team of Brian Babbit and Matt Romberg on PRESSURE DROP were declared the J/22 Midwinter Champions!  Flynn’s crew on TEJAS- Brett Allred and Bryan Clark lost the tie-breaker to secure the silver, while Marshall’s BAD NEWS rounded out the podium in third position.  Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER team of Justin Damore and Kris Werner took 4th and Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 4 1 took 5th place.

Foster enjoyed battling it out with friend Flynn, who he has known more than 30 years. “We have sailed together in many Championships,” said Foster. “Terry was sailing the boat I won the Worlds in (hull 707), and I was sailing the boat Terry won the Worlds in (hull 1501)!”  What a coincidence!

Top woman skipper at 7th overall was Nataleigh Perez’s crew on FORGET ME NOT from Fort Worth Boat Club- Alex Crowell and Blake Billman.  Second women’s skipper was Anne Lee’s HELMS A LEE from the host Houston YC, and third was Jessica Lombard’s FOLKA from Hudson YC in Quebec, Canada.  For more J/22 Midwinter Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.