Ronning owns opening day at J/70 Worlds

Published on September 9th, 2014

Newport, RI (September 9, 2014) – It may have been mostly cloudy for the opening day of the 2014 J/70 World Championship presented by Helly Hansen, but one standout bright spot was the performance of Joel Ronning of Minneapolis, Minn. Sailing Catapult with long-time crew Victor Diaz De Leon of Venezuela, and San Diego sailors Willem Van Waay and Bill Hardesty – the latter the 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year – Ronning drove to win three out of three races sailed on a lumpy Rhode Island Sound.

New York Yacht Club’s Race Committee started the 86-strong fleet in a 18-20 knot ENE breeze which moderated slightly over the subsequent two races. Between the strong breeze and the sea state – the swells did not subside until the tide change late in the day during the third and final race – competitors were given a healthy workout.

Ronning holds the lead in the qualifying series with three points over local sailor Tim Healy (Jamestown, R.I.) on Helly Hansen who posted a consistent 2-2-2 for six points. Qualifying is scheduled to complete on Wednesday, after which the the top half of the fleet will advance to compete for the inaugural World title on Thursday through Saturday.

Healy, the current J/70 North American Champion, is sailing with Geoff Becker, Gordon Borges and Paula Abdullah. Having long been a dominant force in the J/24 class, Healy got into the J/70 because of the family atmosphere. “Everyone is willing to share ideas on how to sail the boats better and how we can make a stronger J/70 class. The competition is fierce but the focus for sure is to have fun racing and to make good friends along the way.”

Healy summed up the hurdles facing competitors who will be racing in Newport for the first time during this championship…

“The biggest challenge will be figuring out how to sail the boats in the open water of Rhode Island Sound. The current is difficult to figure out (I am not sure anyone has it figured out) and predicting the wind shifts is also difficult. In early September we usually have good wind but it can come from just about any direction. Air temperatures can be anywhere from the high 50s to the low 80s.

“Our biggest challenge will be to keep working as a team through the difficult times. In a large fleet like this and on a big racecourse, there will be many difficult situations when we will need to stay focused on just getting up the course as fast as we can, and not dwelling on mistakes.”

2013 BACARDI® Miami Sailing Week class champion Brian Keane of Weston, Mass., at the helm of Savasana, is one point behind Healy, in third overall, followed by Brazil’s Mauricio Santa Cruz on Bruschetta with 15 points. Rounding out the top-five is San Francisco’s Jim Cunningham on Lifted with 16 points.

The September 8-13 competition is being hosted by New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court, with regatta headquarters at Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center.

Day One Results – Qualifying (Top 10 of 86; 3 races)

1. Catapult, Joel Ronning , USA – 1, 1, 1, ; 3
2. Helly Hansen, Tim Healy , USA – 2, 2, 2, ; 6
3. Savasana, Brian Keane , USA – 1, 3, 3, ; 7
4. Bruschetta, Mauricio Santa cruz , BRA – 5, 6, 4, ; 15
5. Lifted, Jim Cunningham , USA – 11, 4, 1, ; 16
6. Team RAFBF Spitfire, Simon Ling , UK – 2, 10, 11, ; 23
7. Joint Custody, Jenn & Ray Wulff , USA – 6, 5, 12, ; 23
8. Wild Child, Henry Filter , USA – 20/SCP, 1, 3, ; 24
9. Joust, Tim Molony , USA – 17, 2, 7, ; 26
10. 20/20, John Arendshorst , USA – 13, 7, 6, ; 26

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