Monday, September 2, 2019

Welles Four-Peats USA J/24 Nationals!

J/24s sailing nationals
(Rochester, NY)- Forty-six J/24 teams competed at the 2019 USA J/24 National Championship hosted by Rochester Yacht Club, with sailing taking place on the wild and tempestuous choppy waters of Lake Ontario. After an eight race series over the three days of sailing, there was quite a familiar face sitting on top of the podium for the fourth time- Will Welles and the BUCKAROO team were crowned the 2019 USA J/24 National Champions. Here are the daily reports on how Welles achieved his remarkable “four-peat” of the event, quite literally pulling the “rabbit out of the hat” to pull it together at the eleventh hour.
J/24s sailing offshore
Day One- Light and Lumpilicious
Three races were run on the opening day in light and lumpy conditions. Reigning J/24 World Champion Will Welles kept up his hot streak on BUCKAROO, totaling 7 points on two seconds and a third. John Mollicone’s triumph in race three elevated team HELLY HANSEN into second place with 11 points. Travis Odenbach’s familiar HONEYBADGER suffered a 14th in the first match, but added a 1-3 for 18 points and third place.

William Bomar’s BANGOR PACKET started off the day with a bullet, with Welles and Ryan Lashaway’s RUMMING ON EMPTY on his tail. Local rock star- Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER- mastered the middle race, as both Bomar and Welles kept themselves in the top three. It was HELLY HANSEN’s turn to take the win in the closing contest, in advance of Welles and Odenbach.
J/24s starting line
Day Two- Light to Medium and Choppy Seas
The second day was a challenging one for the highly-amped J/24 teams. The scorecard lit up with U-Flag and Black-Flag penalties, as three more races went in the books (for a total of six) in winds of 5-7 knots and choppy seas. Welles’ BUCKAROO clung to the lead, despite a UFD in race five, which was his discard.

Current J/24 World Champion Welles was now counting scores of 2-3-2-3-5 for 15 net points (discarding the black flag). Bomar’s BANGOR PACKET put together a solid series so far that included two bullets for 19 points and second place. Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER maintained the third spot, but was tied on 26 points with the ANGEL OF HARLEM duo- Mark Liebel and Robby Brown from Davis Island YC in Tampa, FL.

Saturday’s initial competition was finished at the second windward mark due to a dying breeze. Bomar’s BANGOR PACKET didn’t mind as he claimed his second win of the Championship, shadowed by Evan Petley-Jones’ LIFTED and Welles’ BUCKAROO. The Japanese team SIESTA, led by Nobuyuki Imai, claimed the next victory following a brief on-water postponement, as Finn Hadlock’s BOREAS and ANGEL OF HARLEM also got in on the action. Following another AP, Daniel Cameron’s SHAKE’N’BAKE won the third race of the day, followed to shore by Aidan Glackin’s MENTAL FLOSS and Rossi Milev’s CLEAR AIR from Toronto, Ontario.
J/24 winners
Day Three- Perfect, sunny, moderate breeze finale
Two more races were sailed on the final day and no one appeared up for the challenge of taking Welle’s crew on BUCKAROO down the proverbial mine shaft.  Any of the top three teams could have done so, but only at their peril of wasting a podium finish in the end.  The “Black Flag” hung like the grim reaper’s scythe over Welles’ head, but their team was not going to be denied, taking a 1st and 7th in the final two races to “seal the deal” and win the USA J/24 Nationals for the fourth time. Welles’ crew included crew Jeff Linton, Chris Morgan, Monica Morgan and Erik Rexford.

Last year’s USA J/24 National Champion- Robby Brown and Mark Liebel on ANGEL OF HARLEM- claimed the runner-up position with 38 points. Bomar’s BANGOR PACKET sailed an impressive regatta with a pair of bullets, putting them in third place with 41 points.

It was tight racing in the top five. Rounding out 4th and 5th were former J/24 North American and J/24 World Champions, just three point from 3rd place and 6 pts from 2nd! Winning that battle was Odenbach’s HONEYBADGER over Mollicone’s HELLY HANSEN.
J/24 women's sailing team
Winning the Top Women’s Team Award was, yet again, Erica Beck Spencer’s SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM from Portland, ME.  Sailing photo credts- Tim Wilkes- For more USA J/24 Nationals Sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.