Saturday, May 24, 2014

Perspectives- Sailing J/24 Classics In Italy

J/24 sailing upwind (Argentario, Italy)- Marco d’Aloisio Mayo- an Italian J/24 sailor who sails in the PasquaVela/ Argentario fleet had some refreshing perspectives about sailing the J/24 as a one-design over the course of time:

“During this year’s Pasquavela regatta, we counted eighteen J/24’s on the waters of Argentario. What’s fascinating is to see the fleet continually revitalize itself and see strong participation across Italy as well as continue to see J/24s produce such good sailors!

For example, a long-time J/24 sailor who also sailed in Italy is now the new Soling World Champion-  Farkas Litkey from the Hungarian J/24 fleet.  Other examples are strong sailing teams in Germany (EUROPE 2 saw Tobias Feuerherdt came close to winning the trophy), the Monaco sailor Peter Langhans (already the champion’s of Europe and of Italy with La Superba Ignazio Bonanno at the helm), the crew of the “Blue Flames” and Massimo Mariotti on ALVOTORE (the 2007 Italian J/24 Champion in Cagliari).

The J/24 still requires a very good technical knowledge to sail the boat well, and that shows by the interest around the PasquaVela event and to our J/24 one-design.  Yet, compared to previous years, the number of boats sailing in the PasquaVela have diminished, not only in the J/24 fleet, but especially in Class Altura. In fact, many of the other one-design classes are completely gone! There are no more C21, First 7.5, Melges 24 or 20, Este 24, UFO 22, or even X32.

Only the J/24 class continues to be the leading one-design fleet in Italy and is often the largest fleet in many important regattas.  Yet, some say that it is an old boat. By now, there are boats much faster and efficient. It is probably more rewarding for a sailor, novice or aspiring champion, to climb aboard a “wedge of cheese”, killing themselves upwind touching hands to your toes, then planing with huge asym spinnaker on the carbon mast and the sponsor on the chest.  Then, such sailors wait for the right wind at the dock, then sail at 10-20 kts downwind, only to find themselves firmly planted in the sea in a monster broach! They’re spending a lot of money to buy the ultimate and, most importantly, keep it. After racing for a few years with these “hydrofoils of the sea”, they then abandon them because they are no longer competitive with the new boats since such contraptions always have structural failures of the hull!

J/Boats are simply built better!  In 2013, at Anzio, the winner of the Italian J/24 Championship was the former J/24 European Champion Luigi Ravioli.  Ravioli renovated an old “J” built in 1984 by Cantiere Biagini, bringing it back to life and and making it competitive and successful!

Today, any kid who grew up on the water can afford to buy a J/24, alone or creating a team of small boat owners, with an initial outlay of around 2,000- 3,000 EUR per person.  They can buy the boat together, put it back in order and enter into one of the nine Italian J/24 fleets!  Or, they can participate in the regattas on the lakes or the Mediterranean, sail against great sailors, and grow and conquer each race— one day, maybe even, the a World title! Only in Italy are there more than 150 J/24s racing each year; with 5,400-plus worldwide . Everyone has the opportunity to participate in a National or European title events.  No one-design in the world offers so many opportunities with an investment comparable to that of an old used Fiat!

But above all, no one-design is so technical with such simple adjustments. The amount of fine-tuning and variables makes the J/24 a joy to discover and understand forever. Intriguing for the most creative minds and simply crazy for the stubborn! Angry are the defeated, but the tenacious fall in love. You can spend twenty years of tuning, wins, losses, changes, but each time the J/24 will amaze you and you will ask yet another new question!

Yes. The J/24 is a passion; like all the feelings you have in your heart. Suffering and rejoicing, angry and embracing with happiness, trying to understand and find out what you do not understand, reaching a milestone and realizing that there is a sea and another race to conquer in front of you, and that every time you realize that you know that it is infinite.”