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Winner’s Debrief with Julian Fernandez Neckelmann

Published on September 23rd, 2015

Seventy-eight teams took the fight to La Rochelle, France for the J/70 World Championship, which was won by the Mexican team Flojito y Cooperando led by skipper Julian Fernandez Neckelmann. Here’s the winner’s debrief with Julian published in Momentum, the J/70 class newsletter…

Sixteen nations were represented at the World Championship, which was only the second Worlds for the young J/70 Class. What about the boat attracts so much interest worldwide?
It is a simple boat, easy to get crew for, race, day sail. You can just as well sail with your wife and kids as you can assemble a top notch team and have great competition. This is only the beginning. I would not be surprised to see north of 10,000 boats worldwide in a decade.

Tell us about your crew and the role that each played on your team.

Ed Adams has been coaching us and is probably the best coach around. He had the relevant information and feedback months in advance. His input was invaluable as to boat setup and tuning, wind, tides & currents, etc. Bill Hardesty was mainsail trimmer and tactician responsible for keeping us fast and well positioned. Willem Van Waay trimmed the jib and kite, was responsible for boat and sails, helped Bill with tactics and keeping us fast. Terrific trimmer and above all the most professional and pleasant guy. Erik Brockmann did the bow and logistics. Probably the most talented young sailor in Mexico. My responsibility on the boat was mainly to keep out of their way.

Black flag penalties hampered quite a few teams, including some top contenders. How did you approach the starts with 77 other boats?
We knew that we had to be conservative and not have any catastrophic races. Sometimes our starts were poor because of this, but we quickly came back fighting. Cannot come back from a BFD.

You led from day one and never relinquished that advantage. Did your strategy change over the four days, and if so, how?
Our strategy was fairly uniform from day 1 to 3—mainly place top 10 and avoid BFD, fouls and big leverage with the fleet. On day 4, we basically made sure that Calvi Network finished deep and behind us in the first race; last race we had to do better than 14th with them worse than third. Nonetheless, the most important STRATEGIC decision as a team was to have FUN!

La Rochelle is a unique venue with huge tides and breeze. What preparations did you make prior to the event?
We studied tide/current patterns and wind trends months in advance. We arrived one week ahead of the event to validate our research.

Some members have expressed a desire to limit professional sailors in the J/70 Class to one Group 1 competitor per boat. What is your opinion on that?
The rule should not be changed as it is significant in the Class foundation; and many other people bought the boat because of it or they were strongly influenced by it. Lots of sailors need professional help because of age or skill set. Professionals are an integral part of our sport. For purists, the Corinthian Class will solve the issue.

How do you see the J/70 Class evolving in Mexico?
The Class in Mexico is going to keep evolving strongly in Valle de Bravo, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Progreso.


Winning team, from left: Willem Van Waay, Bill Hardesty, Erik Brockmann, and Julian Fernandez Neckelmann


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