Go West, Young Man

Published on September 21st, 2015

The fast-growing J/70 class is holding its first championship this week in the Pacific Ocean. Greg Koski, a veteran in the J/70 class and owner of Ullman Sails Cleveland, provides a preview…

The J/70 class is gearing up for their third North American Championship, this year in sunny San Diego, California. The event, which will take place September 24-27, will be hosted by none other than the prestigious San Diego Yacht Club, which has set the standard in terms of race management and accommodation. The 50-boat fleet is substantial. While it is not the biggest North Americans held by the class to-date, it might well be the most competitive.

The fleet in general has gotten stronger and stronger since the class was founded in 2012, and now any of the top 20 boats has the potential to win. Not only will the event see the 2015 and 2014 J/70 World Champions, Julian Fernandez Neckelman and Tim Healy, in attendance, but they will be pressed hard by others ready to take the title.

On the start line will be Jud Smith (Etchells World Champion), J/70 newcomer Bruce Golison (sailing with five-time Olympian Richard Clarke), Joel Ronning (second place at the 2014 World Championship), Allan Terhune (J/22 World Champion), Brad Boston (two-time Olympian), and Brian Keane (third place at the 2014 J/70 North Americans), etc.. etc. And the list just goes on and on. Brace yourselves for some close racing.

The event’s weather forecast looks pretty much like your typical San Diego forecast with a sea breeze setting in around noon or so, but the system that is currently flowing through Southern California could mix things up. With starts scheduled for 11:30AM the fleet might be waiting on the water for the breeze to fill before they get going.

There are two possible sailing areas, either inside the harbor on the South Bay course or offshore at the Coronado Roads racing area, and am assuming that both venues will be used depending on weather conditions.

The inside course, which can have very tricky winds and currents, could be a little tight for the 50 boat fleet, but would showcase more exciting, close-quarters racing. The good thing about sailing inside is that there is NO kelp!

The outside course offers pretty straight-forward sailing – the challenge is to understand the wind and the tide. That being said, the kelp will be a huge problem. Keep your eyes open and be on the constant lookout. Having your kelp stick ready at all times is a must, as is backing down before every race, no matter if you’re sailing inside or out.

We look forward to some great weather and tight racing.

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