Sunday, February 12, 2017

J/24 Midwinters Preview

J/24 sailing upwind (Indian Harbour Beach, FL)- Casts of thousands are headed south to the gorgeous, soft shell sand beaches of Florida, all escapees from the nasty northeaster blizzard called “Niko”, a deepening low pressure weather system that underwent "bombogensis" and wrecked havoc on the northeastern parts of the USA.  In that massive migration south, over two dozen J/24 sailors are headed to their 39th annual J/24 Midwinter Championship, hosted by the pretty Eau Gallie Yacht Club located in Indian Harbour Beach, FL.  The regatta is running from February 10th to 12th with up to ten races planned.

Thirty-five J/24s will be launching at their deep-water marina located at the mouth of the “big” Banana River just off the Intra-Coastal waterway on Florida’s east coast.  Immediately north of where the fleet will be sailing is the famous “moon shot” complex, NASA’s Cape Canaveral, home of the famous Space Shuttles and the massive Saturn 1B launch rocket- capable of tossing 21 TONS into orbit! That’s a lot of bananas!

The fleet consists of the usual rogue’s gallery of sailors who will tell you that not one sportsboat sailor on the planet, from any class or brand, can finish in the top three of any major J/24 regatta.  They may have a point there, since most sportboat crews would have no clue what to do with a triangular-shaped piece of nylon flown off a pole that you have to connect to a ring on the mast and, then, be careful not to fall overboard while doing the “watusi” on the foredeck!  That takes talent, for sure!

Leading the charge for the locals might be none other than the first International J/24 Class President, Dick Tillman.  Tillman will be skippering INTRACOASTAL BREWERY from Merritt Island, FL.  Other Melbourne YC members supporting the event are Brad Stowers’ DOUBLE DARE, John Tworkowski’s FINE FINISH, Robert Rastello’s FOSSIL, Paul Anstey’s J-PEAS, and Chris Gates’ FLASHBACK.  Local knowledge is a good thing in them there parts, something about “rednecks” knowing the waters and stuff about ‘gators and chickunz’, all related to tides and currents, of course.

Hoping to overcome the “locals” natural advantage are a heap of World, European, North American, Midwinter Champions from days of glory gone past.  John Mollicone’s HELLY HANSEN from SAIL NEWPORT in Newport, RI may top that list (has a few World Champions on board).  Others hoping to top the leaderboard certainly include Travis Odenbach’s infamous HONEYBADGER from Rochester YC; Todd Fedyszyn’s SPOONY TACTICS from Davis Island YC; Carter White’s Maine-iacs on board SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM from Portland YC; Will Welles’ BOGUS from Mount Desert Island Sailing Club in Newport, RI; Robby Brown’s ANGEL OF HARLEM crew (not from NY!) from Davis Island YC; Mike Ingham’s TARHEEL from Rochester YC; and Aidan Glackin’s MENTAL FLOSS FROM Lloyd Harbor YC in New York.  Traveling from north of the border are Evan Petley-Jones from the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax, Nova Scotia (long drive boys!) and Nathan Bresett’s WOODCHUCK from Bay of Quinte YC in Belleville, Ontario.  For more J/24 Midwinters sailing information