Thursday, November 10, 2016

BANGOR PACKET Crushes J/24 East Coast Champs!

J/24s sailing off Annapolis (Annapolis, MD)- The annual fall J/24 classic took place on the Chesapeake Bay from October 28th to 30th.  Host for the twenty-six teams that came from near and far was the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, MD.  Many luminaries of the J/24 class were in attendance, as highly competitive a fleet as anyone has seen in recent years.  In the end, no one ever said it was going to be easy, but it was past East Coast Champion Tony Parker sailing his famously-named BANGOR PACKET to a drama-filled overall win- counting three 1sts, two 2nds and a DNC/27 in the overall no-throw-out scoreline.

Bangor Packet winning crewTony and his amazing crew (Rossi Milev, James Nubeck, Chris Ball & "Mad" Martha Parker) could have made it a little easier on themselves.  After the first race, they somehow broke their main halyard and had to take a DNC for the second race of the regatta!  According to Martha Parker, uber bow girl phenom, “we sailed with the jib to a creek for flat water and relief from the breeze.  We got to a pier and Chris made a soft chair and we took him up to the hounds.  We then sent the spinnaker pole up to Chris and he was able to grab the halyard, where we discovered the shackle bent open to an L shape.  We took the shackle off and tied the halyard to the head of the sail.  Then, we sailed out to start the 3rd race but they called racing for the day!!”  A “fitting end”, from their perspective for the day!

The sailing was quite amazing.  You wouldn't believe it was almost November 1, considering the weather over the weekend. The temperatures were in the mid-70s, the leaves were just starting to change into awesome colors, and it was the absolute perfect weekend to be out on the water.

Well, Friday was a little questionable, according to one crew member.  Here’s why- as described another sailor, “on Friday, when west winds were at 25 knots with sustained gusts at 30, 24 boats went out to race. Then, things got a little dicey. The fleet could hardly keep their keels in the water, and one boat broached so hard that she busted her spreader.

J/24s sailing off AnnapolisOn another boat, a mark rounding went particularly badly when a crew member's legs got smashed between boats and he broke his leg. He then sailed upwind and downwind, though. Afterward, when it became apparent that he needed to get off the race course, local super-hero Terry Hutchinson was thankfully on the scene, spectating in his powerboat, and was able to get the sailor to land to be taken to the hospital.  After the second race, the day was called.”

"If I lose a quarter of the fleet, I can still get a race off," said PRO Juliet Thompson. "But, I had lost a third of the fleet after the second race. We had to send them in."

Living to tell the tale with little drama was Evan Petley-Jones on LIFTED, sailing all top ten races to close with 44 pts and the silver.  Taking the bronze was Travis Odenbach’s infamous HONEY BADGER, but not without a few dramas of their own.  Like BANGOR PACKET, they too go the short end of a stick, in this case a DSQ in race two due to a “U-flag” penalty!

Travis describes how this 3-day championship had social balance too, “From a competitive standpoint, this fleet was the strongest I have seen it in the last three years. But it was Severn Sailing Association, Pat FitzGerald and his team of volunteers, that really came through to put on a very fun on-land part of the regatta.

J/24s sailing on Chesapeake BayThe Quantum and Sparcraft sponsored beer truck was up and running as teams set their boats up Thursday afternoon. I ran around with my head cut off helping skippers tune their boats in the rain. The organizers had scheduled Dock Talks each day (led by North Sails), cornhole tournaments and on Saturday the longest flip cup table I have ever seen!

The Saturday party included oysters on the half-shell, Maryland crab soups and a great dinner with over 170 sailors eating, having fun and partying into the evening. This regatta has become a great social event, as well as competition. Rarely do we see teams hang around for four hours after the sailing was done. No one wanted to miss the great time that was had each night!

This regatta was amazing on the water and even more fun off the water. My advice to everyone is to put this event on your schedule next year and let’s make it a 30 boat regatta! Thank you to Pat Fitzgerald, Commodore Peter Rich, and to everyone else who worked hard to put this event on. See you next year!”

Rounding out the top five was Mike Marshall’s PIPE DREAM in fourth place and Andrew Carey’s MR HANKEY in fifth position.  Top woman skipper was Erica Beck Spencer’s SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM in 14th place overall.   Sailing photo credits- Dan Phelps/   For more J/24 fall championship sailing information