Light the candles for the J/24 Worlds 35th Anniversary

Published on September 19th, 2014

Back in 1979, no one would ever imagine the J/24 class would achieve such enthusiastic support and popularity that in its first World Championships in Newport, RI, hosted by Ida Lewis YC and sponsored by Bacardi Rum, that 69 boats would participate in that event.

It was a notable achievement for many reasons. While the first J/24 Midwinters in 1978 had 21 boats (85% of them had pro’s aboard!), the 1979 Worlds was also highlighted by the “long distance” race that experienced the tail-feathers of the famous depression that later annihilated the 1979 Fastnet Race!

Those who finished the “around Jamestown Island” race without broaching at some point (about half of the top 15) also later experienced at the after-party a near-tornado that lifted the giant marquee tent about 1.5 feet off its stakes that was based at the Newport Yachting Center! Needless to say, nerves were calmed with soothing Bacardi refreshments later into the evening as the monster depression whistled off to the east to wreck greater havoc elsewhere on the North Atlantic Ocean!

Now, celebrating the 35th edition of the J/24 Worlds, Sail Newport and friends at Fort Adams State Park are hosting the regatta from September 18-26, with racing starting on Monday, September 22. The line-up of teams from around the world continues to be extraordinary for such a venerable class. Seventy-one boats! Who would believe that three decades later a J/24 Worlds in Newport would be just as big as it was when it first started as a “newbie” class on the International scene back in the days when Quarter-Tonners, Half-Tonners and One-Tonners were all the rage in the early 1980’s IOR world (yeah, pointy-ended boats that could swap ends faster than you could blink)!

There are some J/24 sailors in the current entry list who have long-term memory banks that can remember that far back, especially since some of them were there “back in the old days” at the O.K. Corral of yacht racing! Who might that be? You got it. A guy from Portland, Maine for starters. You’d be hard-pressed not to get a good story out of the “old man of the J/24 class”- Tony Parker and the infamous BANGOR PACKET who were originally from Portland, Maine. He’s done O.K. for a moonlighter in Washington, DC politics in recent years. Beware, crafty old fox that he is, Tony’s team are always contenders in their “local waters” of the northeast!

While Tony has seen literally every J/24 World Champion come and go over time (e.g. Ken Read, Terry Hutchinson, Brad Read, Mauricio Santa Cruz, Tim Healy/ John Mollicone, Ed Baird… complete list), he knows he is up against a formidable “new generation” of sailors that are every bit as good as their past heroes.

Leading that charge will certainly be current J/24 European Champion Mike Ingham from Rochester, New York; Pat Toole from Santa Barbara, California on 3 BIG DOGS (past J/24 North American Champions); Mauricio Santa Cruz on BRUSCHETTA from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (past J/24 World Champion four-times!); Tim Healy/ John Mollicone on Team HELLY HANSEN from Newport, RI (two-time J/24 World Champions); Mike Marshall on PIPE DREAM from Jamestown, RI; Will Welles’ COUGAR team from Newport, RI (J/24 US Nationals champions); Ken Porter’s “S” from Valle de Bravo, Mexico (Mexican National Champion); Scott Milne on TREMENDOUS SLOUCH from Seattle, WA (West Coast Champion); Travis Odenbach’s HONEY BADGER from Rochester, NY; Rossi Milev’s CLEAR AIR from Mississauga, Ontario (Canadian Champion); Rolf Turnquist & Billy Allen’s OZ from Minnesota (founder of J/24 #1 fleet and World E-Scow Champions); and Sumio Shimoyama & Mark Hillman on SOKOKUMARU (Japanese Champion). That is just a taste of the leading candidates for the event.

Throw in many strong teams from around the world, on both a regional and continental level and the balance of the fleet is as strong as it has ever been in the past three decades. Why? Because, the J/24 is an affordable, entry-level, world-class racer. For just $5,000 USD you can get a good boat that can be made ship-shape to sail against the world’s best sailors. With 5,500+ plus J/24s floating around the world, it’s not hard to find one to go racing someplace!

As a result, some “blasts from the past” and some recent additions to the class (all world-class sailors) are looking to have some fun in this year’s Newport J/24 Worlds. Don’t count out some teams like the Constants brothers (Al & Dave) from Long Island Sound sailing BLITZ, as smart a team as they come with a pedigree as long as any modern tattooists decorated arms.

There is an enormous contingent from both South America as well as Japan. South American teams include Argentineans like Sergio Pendola’s CACIQUE and Nicolas Cubria’s ELVIS. In addition, top Peruvian teams include Luis Olcese’s SCARAMOUSH and Lucas Peschiera’s TIAMAT. The top Uruguayan team from Montevideo is Pedro Garra’s EXTASIS. From Chile are Vernon Robert’s GRINGA DC and Matias Seguel’s SEMI-PRO. From Japan are not just Sumio’s SOKOKUMARU’s team, but Keiji Kondo’s FOX, Shigetoshi Shirahama’s WHITE SQUALL, Koji Matsumoto’s TEMPUS and Nobuo Nakazawa’s GEKKO.

Surprisingly, the only German team is Frithoj Schade’s JJ ONE from Berlin. And, the sole Italian team is Marco d’Aloisio Mayo’s DON J. Plus, the sole Irish team is Luke McBride’s BANDIT from Omagh, County Tyrone— all three countries have a strong European presence. Perhaps for the first time in J/24 Worlds history, it’s amazing that United Kingdom, Australian or Monaco teams are not represented.

The Canadian fleet north of the border have not only Milev’s CLEAR AIR crew arriving at Fort Adams in Newport, but a number of characters are wandering south seeking gold and silver from their southern neighbors. Who can blame them with the USD heading further south all the time! Get it now when the getting is good. Amongst the gold-rush seekers are Nicolas Mabboux’s BAYGULL- ACCENTURE CONSULTING crew from Montreal, Quebec; Ted Bartlewski’s DRIVERS WANTED from Mississauga, Ontario; Edmond Rees’ A-SALT from Toronto; Tom Barbeau’s NAVTECH.CA; and Blair Dinsdale’s JOURNEY from Toronto.

For more J/24 World Championship sailing information:

Report courtesy of J/Newsletter

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