By John M. Buckley, Event Chair
Forty-five boats contested the 2014 J/24 U.S. National Championship, hosted by J/24 Fleet 16 and Beverly Yacht Club in Marion, MA on August 22 - 24. An unusual cool air mass stalled over the New England coast provided relatively stable northeasterly winds across Buzzards Bay, varying in direction from 55 to 70 degrees and speeds of seven to 16 knots. These conditions, combined with the talents of Sue Reilly’s race management team, provided a memorable three-day, ten-race event.
Will Welles and crew notched six bullets in ten races to win the J/24 National Championship. © Chris Howell
Sue and her team got the first race off at 1100 Friday, right on time. The fleet was treated to “Reilly’s Race Radio,” a real-time stream of information about what was going on, the race committee’s plans, and what changes were planned as conditions changed. John Mollicone’s Helly Hansen (Jamestown, RI) won the day, followed by Will Welles’ Cougar (Portsmouth, RI) and Sumito Shimoyama’s Sokoku Maru (Tokyo, Japan).
Saturday brought an increase in the wind. After finishing sixth in the first race, Team Cougar concluded their rig was too soft. Moving the mast butt forward resulted in three bullets. Cougar carried the day, but it wasn’t easy as there was constant pressure from Mike Marshall’s Pipe Dream (Jamestown) and Mike Ingram’s Nautalytic (Rochester, NY). After seven races, Cougar led the series with 14 points with Pipe Dream in second with 22 and Helly Hansen third.
On Sunday, the final day of racing, competitors were greeted by a 14 -16 knot northerly with the sun shining once again. It was big jib racing all day, and boats could occasionally jump on a wave for a mini-surfing ride. Cougar took an alternative penalty in race 8 (throwout), followed by bullets in races 9 and 10 to win with 27 points. Helly Hansen took second place with 38, Pipe Dream was third with 45, with Nautalytic one point behind in fourth. Natalie Penner’s Giggles (Austin, TX) won the 6-boat Women’s Division handily. The regatta was a qualifying event for the 2015 J/24 World Championship in Boltenhagen, Germany. Complete results are posted at regattapromotions.com.