J/70 Worlds: Five continents to compete for title
Published on July 3rd, 2015
La Rochelle, France (July 3, 2015) – The first J/70 World Championship to be hosted in Europe anticipates 80+ boats in attendance from sixteen countries representing all five continents, with racing on July 8-11 out of Port de Minimes.
The story of the event could be the challenging, often shifty conditions, in the sailing area called “les Pertuis”. It is characterized by the regularity of the sea breeze and its interaction with the synoptical winds in the region. The winds are mostly blowing from SW to NW (3 or 4 Beaufort in average). The sea breeze arrives from the open sea and increases during the afternoon (up to 5 Beaufort).
At least that is what happens without major frontal systems generating significant gradient breezes. In addition, an enormous tidal flow between Ile de Re, La Rochelle harbour and the islands to the south generate San Francisco Bay type of current shears that flow up to 2+ knots; generated by a tidal height change of nearly 20 feet!
The “local” French teams will know the area well, having spent years sailing in both offshore and one-design competitions. Notable teams include Phillipe Briand (champion dinghy/ offshore sailor and famous yacht designer) and J/80 French champions like Ludovic Senechal and Laurent Sambron.
Leading United Kingdom teams that sailed the 2014 J/70 Worlds in Newport include BOATS.COM’s Ian Atkins and Simon Ling’s Team RAFB SPITFIRE. Joining them for this year’s adventure in La Rochelle are Ian Wilson’s GILL RACE TEAM, Nick & Adam Munday’s J7T, Charlie Esse’s DARWIN PROPERTY INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, and Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC.
Many of the top German teams that sailed Kieler Woche this past weekend have a conflict with the next major J/70 Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga; otherwise, there may have been another twenty teams from Germany alone! As it is, joining the five boat German contingent is J/70 International Class President Jurgen Waldheim (a past 505 World Champion).
Italy’s J/70 class is showing up in force with many of their top sailors from the Alcatel OneTouch Italian Nationals series. That group includes Vittorio Di Mauro, Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK (J/70 Midwinter Champion 2015) and Luca Domenici.
Having at least one representative from their countries are Malta (local J/70 fleet champion Sebastian Ripard); Netherland’s Wouter Kollman (J/22 European Champion); Russia’s Alex Markarov; Switzerland’s Gergorini Rico; Per Von Appen from Chile; Australia’s Steve McConaghy, from the famous sailing and boat-building family in Sydney (most notably the Maxi 100 footer WILD OATS XI); Brazil’s Mauricio Santa Cruz (a four-time J/24 World Champion and top J/70 sailor internationally); and Mexico’s Julian Fernandez Neckelmann from their Valle de Bravo fleet west of Mexico City.
After a second at the J/24 Midwinters in Key West, a 2nd at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week and a 2nd at Annapolis NOOD Regatta, Mexico’s Neckelmann is hoping his team’s preparation will keep them in the hunt in the tricky conditions off La Rochelle sailing their battle-tested FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO. Helping Julian as tactician will be two-time Etchells 22 World Champion and recent Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Bill Hardesty.
The Monagesque J/70 fleet, one of the largest in Europe, is showing up in force with most of their top teams in attendance. Those teams include Monaco’s Fleet Captain Jacopo Carrain, Alex Isley, Ian Isley, Alexis Rodelato and Pierric Devic.
Also fielding a strong group of sailors is Sweden. Many are top J sailors and dinghy sailors from the past, such as Anders Rosenberg, Mikael Lindqvist and Magnus Tyreman.
The Spanish teams include J/80 World Champion and Olympic Medallist Hugo Rocha sailing ESP 667 NEW TERRITORIES, the recent winner of the J/70 German Open Championship sailed at Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany over a talent-laden fleet of sailors like Claas Lehmann, Oscar Lundqvist, Christian Soyka, Karol Jablonski and Carsten Kemmling (between this group of sailors are multiple X-99, 505 and World Match Race Tour World Champions, plus the current Barcelona World Race winner!).
Finally, with nine teams making the trek across the Atlantic, the American teams are laden with talent. Top dog in this wolf-pack is current J/70 World Champion Tim Healy from Jamestown/ Newport, RI hoping to defend his title sailing HELLY HANSEN against a much improved and talented fleet. Also, hoping to defend her J/70 World Corinthian Champion title is the duo of Heather Gregg and Joe Bardenheier sailing MUSE from Boston, MA/ Newport, RI.
Having won the J/80 Worlds, J/105 Midwinters and several J/70 events, Boston’s Brian Keane on SAVASANA is always a force to contend with. Joining this tough crew will be Peter Duncan (a top Etchells 22 champion) from New York, Jim Cunningham’s LIFTED (Etchells 22 National Champion) from San Francisco, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND from Charleston and Gannon Troutman (the 12 yr old skipper that finished 5th at the Key West Midwinters and at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week).