Jud Smith: A Season of Hard Work
Published on October 6th, 2015
The J/70 class recently held its North American Championship in San Diego, attracting fifty boats for would be THE event in the states for 2016. Jud Smith, making the trip from Marblehead, MA, culminated a season of hard work to take the title. In this excerpt from his report on the Doyle Sails website, Jud details his event strategy…
We were able to test both days prior to the practice day and final day of measurement. On Monday, we tested inside the bay in very light air with Hooligan and Savasana. On Tuesday, we were able to test on the NA’s track with many top boats in 6-8 knots. We had competitive speed upwind, and experimented with different tuning settings to see which one worked best.
We found that 2 settings below our base was the best for those conditions, that were unstable 6 to 8 knots. Downwind we swapped between kites to see which we liked better and selected the “Billy Baroo” as our primary kite and AP as our back up. At this point, most of the class has 2 viable spinnakers, and it makes sense to add in a specialized Light Air VMG spinnaker for regattas when you know the breeze is going to be under 10 knots and declare that as your primary spinnaker.
Going into the NA’s, we knew that to be among the top boats at the end of the regatta would need good consistent scores and I didn’t think any one boat was going to dominate the event. There was plenty of talent in the fleet and with all the races counting (no discards!), the outcome would come down to the last race. The goal was to be one of those boats with a shot at the title going into that final race.
One thing that cannot be stressed enough that made a difference was having a consistent crew. Will Felder and Marc Gauthier sailed with me for most of the regattas this year, and we worked Victor Diaz in for a number of practice sessions as well. His knowledge with the San Diego venue proved invaluable and allowed all of us to work well together and keep our eyes on the prize throughout the regatta. Having confidence in your crew is essential to coming away from big regattas with a win.
The Velocitek ProStart does change the game, since everyone knows where the line is. There are some teams that like to mix it up at the ends of the line, but it is hard to pull off good starts near an end over the course of a 10 to 12 race series. Most of the fleet likes to start near the favored end, or in the case of San Diego near the windward end.
If it looked too congested at the weather end with a couple of minutes to go, we would often bail out and move down the line. The times we started in a congested area, we would have been better off moving down the line. If the line was 15 or more degrees favored at the pin, the fleet would move to that end. 10 degree bias seemed to be about the right bias to spread out the fleet across the line.
Full report, including the story behind the ‘Billy Baroo’ spinnaker… click here