Monday, May 30, 2016

WV Almere Centraal Leading Netherlands J/70 Sailing League

J/70 sailing Netherlands Sailing League (Gouwzee Waterland, Monnickendam, Netherlands)- Host for the first edition of the Netherlands J/70 Sailing League ( was the Waterland Yacht Charter Monnickendam team.  Over the three-day weekend, they managed to run thirteen races for the eighteen teams that were participating in the first full season of league-style racing.

At the conclusion of racing on Sunday, it was the WV Almere Centraal team of John den Engelsman, Willem Jan van Dort, Nova Huppes and Irena Doets that took a commanding lead after the second day of racing and win by the astonishing margin of 15 points, winning 10 of 13 races in total!  Here is how it all came about.

J/70s sailing Netherlands Sailing League off MonnickendamDay 1
After the first day of the first round, the team of RR & ZV Maas and Roer won no less than four of the six races. The matches were sailed on the Gouwzee on the Monnickendam coast.  Here were some of the reactions from the sailors after the first day.

Max Fisher- skipper of RR & ZV Maas and Roer in Roermond- gave the following explanation: "It was actually quite good for us. Better than expected. We are very satisfied. All the other teams have also trained and do not know what to expect. We had hoped to be in the top five. But, this is a great success for us today! Compared to last year, you will notice that more teams are able to win races at the top of the fleet. You notice that other teams have trained a lot and boat handling is much better. Teams go around the buoys better. So, the racing is much, much closer, it is absolutely exciting!”

John den Engelsman, crew on WV Almere Central was very satisfied. "We had a fantastic day. For everyone perfect conditions. A bit more sunshine would have been nice. But, as a team, we have done very well. We once made a mistake and have clung to the top mark. But then we actually made more mistakes!  Still, we are very pleased with today.  The level of sailing was much better than last year. All teams have been training and that you can see that on the water. All teams were doing a much better job all around.  We have a mixed team two very good women on our team- they are used to training hard."

J70s sailing off start at Netherlands Sailing LeagueDay 2
On the second day of sailing, it appears the teams were becoming more evenly matched, with the exception of the mixed team of WV Almere Central. WV Almere Central was now eight points ahead of the number two team- RR & ZV Maas en Roerin. In third place was the team of WV Brassermermeer.

One team sailed a nearly faultless day. Nova Huppes of WV Almere Central gave the following explanation, "It went very well for us. Only firsts and one second place, so we can be satisfied with our performance. Our secret is good teamwork. We have all been on board for a while and divided our responsibilities very well, so no one has too much to do and no one too little.  We had a great day!  Too much sun, so we cannot complain! Tomorrow, we will try to defend our lead!”

The general conclusion of all eighteen participating teams is that the level of the entire fleet is rising quickly. The J/70 is easy to learn how to make it go fast, especially in flat waters of the lakes and bays.  As an example, the position changes on second day were remarkable, with teams going up and down the results ladder like a roller-coaster.

Sailing their inaugural series, the Haarlem Jachtclub had a good weekend of sailing. On the first day, they had to score all DNC’s because of responsibilities at school!  However, the talented young team sailed well on Saturday and posted a few thirds along the way.  Their skipper, Bart Lambriex, took silver at the Optimist Worlds in 2011. Lambriex wants to sail the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the 49er class. Commenting on their performance, Lambriex said, "It was very rough getting used to sailing a keelboat. Many things are going well but some things are not going so well. What is not going well are those typical J/70 things that have to do with operating the gennaker. Especially the crew, learning how to raise and lower it correctly without shrimping it! So, for us it means getting better on technique!  Tactically it went well. We won some starts and often sailed the right side of the course. Nevertheless, there is much room for improvement. Tomorrow is a new day!"

On the final day of racing on Sunday, the Watersportvereniging Almere Central took a commanding lead after winning four more races in a row, taking the series by the commanding margin of 15 pts. Led by their experienced helmsman, John den Engelsman, they were a class apart. They sailed a near flawless regatta, with perfectly executed maneuvers. And, if they were at all threatened, the mixed team from Almere defended with great skill and ferocity.

Behind them, it was it was a huge battle for second place.  The number of race victories was decisive to determine who beat whom in the final standings. Three teams tied on 31 pts each after 13 races!  Winning the tie-breaker to take the silver was Watersportvereniging Sneek, then in third was Roermond Rowing and Sailing Club and in fourth was Watersportvereniging Brassermermeer.  Rounding out the top five was WSV Almere Haven.

J/70 Netherlands Sailing League winnersJohn den Engelsman (54 yrs old), skipper of WV Almere Central was very satisfied.  He has sailed in the Nations Cup Match Race Worlds with Roy Heiner.  As helmsman, he has won the J/22 Worlds and X35 Worlds and has raced for 40 years.  John said, "It was a super weekend with 18 clubs from the Netherlands with superb sailing conditions. My team has really done very well. What's our secret? We sail together in many sports boat competitions. For five years in the Melges 24 and in the past few years in the J/22 and X-35."

Menno Berens (33 yrs old) of WSV Sneek said, "It's super exciting. Many struggles. Nice short racing.  Great competition. Boat handling should be good. But, in addition, there are also critical tactical decisions to make, which is nice. Our coach (Coen van Esch) is the boss of the WSV Sneek team. The coach determines and selects the crew. We started with a large group. First, he determined the skipper, Maarten Jamin- an old hand who was twice Yngling World Champion. Then the coach added a few young guys from the Laser class (Martin Smith and Eric Jan Westerhof). One of them was World Youth Laser Radial Champion."

Martijn Worse Ling (42 yrs old) sailed for Watersportvereniging Brassermermeer and was enthusiastic about the sailing league format; ”this is fun, an exciting format! There were very many close races of high quality. Everything is very tactical. With the exception of WV Almere Central, of course. It's also really nice to get out and sail for your club. This is truly an asset for the sport of sailing! This tastes great, we want more like it!”  Watch some good YouTube sailing video action here.

The next events for the Netherlands J/70 Sailing League ( are:
  • Jun 10-12 – Gieseplas Havenweg, Giesbeek
  • Jul 1-3 – Westeinder Vrouwentroost, Aalsmeer
  • Sep 9-11 – Veerse Gat Torenwal, Veere
  • Sep 30– Oct 2 - Weerwater Esplanade, Almere
Sailing photo credits- Remmelt Staal ( and Jasper van Staveren (   For more Netherlands J/70 Sailing League information