Monday, September 30, 2013

Mollicone Two-Peats J/24 North Americans!

J/24 sailing at North Americans- Helly Hansen- John Mollicone (Newport, RI- John Mollicone's team sailing HELLY HANSEN outlasted 45 other teams to become the J/24 Sea Bags North American Champion. With Tim Healy (tactics), Collin Leon (mast), Geoff Becker (trim) and Gordon Borges (bow), team HELLY HANSEN totaled 50 points in the 10-race series to narrowly edge out a hard-charging Matias Seguel of Chile on SEMI-PRO by two points. Nicolas Cubria of Argentina sailed ELVIS to third place with 62 points.  The event was hosted by Sail Newport and J/24 Fleet 50.

J/24 NA Champion- John Mollicone and team- Tim Healy on left“We did a really good job grinding back,” commented Mollicone about their last race on the final day. “We found ourselves in a lot of tough spots but were able to slowly chip away and pass boats.” He gave the credit to his team’s boat handling, crew work and tactics, saying “Everyone stayed really calm and cool, even if we were deep.” One such occasion was when they were OCS in a race, but still made the top 10. He added, “Today, things weren’t looking good for a while, but we just kept our composure. A lot of that is all of us sailing together a lot.” Mollicone won the 2012 North American Championship last November with the same crew.

J/24s sailing North American Championship- Newport, RIIt didn't start out that easy for this fast crew, most of whom had just won the J/24 World Championship two weeks earlier in Howth, Ireland.  Leader after day one was Peter Bream’s Team TARHEEL, taking a 3-1 to start the regatta with just 4 pts. The Florida-based team topped competitors from Japan, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Canada and the USA. At that point, HELLY HANSEN was two points back with 6 pts, and Matias Seguel on SEMI-PRO was third with 8 points. The fleet was treated to a spectacular opening day with sunshine, warm temperatures and winds Southwest 12-15 with a 1.5 foot swell. Kris Werner of New York got the event started with a win for his team on STICKS, with Mollicone and Bream rounding out the top three in race one. Bream took the bullet in race two, with Seguel in second and 2011 North American champion Travis Odenbach on HONEY BADGER in third.

On day two, the fleet had another beautiful day with winds ranging from 6-8 knots early on, increasing to 12 kts by the last race.  Mollicone and team made their big move, utilizing his hometown "local knowledge" advantage to leap into first place with just 12 net points after five races (including one throw-out). At this point, HELLY HANSEN led Chile’s Matias Seguel on SEMI-PRO by 6 points. Day 1 leader Peter Bream on Team TARHEEL dropped to third with 21 points. Mollicone sailed to victory in the day’s first race, trailed by Will Welles on COUGAR and Steven Kirkpatrick on BUCKSHOT. Argentina’s Sergio Pendola triumphed in the next contest on CACIQUE, with Michael Marshall’s PIPE DREAM in second and Seguel in third. The racing closed out with another Argentinian in front as Nicolas Cubria’s ELVIS took the bullet. Chile’s Robert Vernon racing GRINGA followed in second, and Pendola in third.

J/24s sailing downwind off NewportOn the third day of racing on Saturday, the competitors were again greeted by superb conditions as temperatures remained in the low 70s with winds 10-12 knots and gusts to 14. Three races were held, bringing the total to eight overall.  Mollicone’s team continued their consistent performance to take an 11-point advantage into the final day of competition.  The reigning North American champion tallied a line of 2,4,1,5,7,8,(9),5 for 32 overall points.  Nicolas Cubria’s ELVIS amassed 43 points for second place, and Matias Seguel's SEMI-PRO was in third with 47 points.  International teams dominated the day. Argentina’s Sergio Pendola on CACIQUE snagged another victory in Saturday’s opening contest. Sumio Shimoyama’s SOKOKUMARU of Japan placed second, and Chile’s Raul del Castillo on LA BANCA third. Local Will Welles’ COUGAR captured a win in the next battle, with two Argentina teams behind him— Cubria and Guillermo de Martis’ TWIN. Shimoyama ended the day successfully, with Castillo in second and Travis Odenbach's HONEY BADGER in third.

The final day dawned cool and overcast with light winds around 6-8 knots, which dropped during the first race to about 4 knots by the time teams crossed the finish line. Conditions turned around by the next start as the clouds dissipated, the sun returned and the breeze increased to 8-10 kts. For the first time during the event, the course was moved inside to Narragansett Bay on Sunday. “It was really tricky with lots of outgoing current,” Mollicone explained. “The breeze was unstable so it was really difficult sailing. In the last beat of the last race, we went from mid-20s to what we thought for a while was top three. That’s how shifty it was!”  Local Will Welles on COUGAR won his second race of the regatta in Sunday’s initial battle. Seguel’s SEMI-PRO took second, and another local— Bob Kinsman on DOGFISH third. In the final race of the championship, Taylor Neff’s BUBBLES, from Lake Minnetonka, MN, claimed the top spot, followed by Canadian Michael Howarth’s MISTER H and Seguel.  Mollicone praised the conditions during the four-day event, especially the three days on the outside course. “That’s what Newport is known for— waves, solid breeze, southerly direction.”   For more J/24 North Americans sailing information