Countdown to J/70 World Championship

Published on September 21st, 2016

San Francisco, CA (September 21, 2016) – Summer’s days may be numbered, but this comes as welcome news to all sailors participating in the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, as fall’s arrival neatly dovetails with the start of what promises to be a world-championship regatta for the ages.

Starting and finishing guns will echo across the Berkley Circle racecourse, an area of San Francisco Bay to the northeast (and leeward) of Alcatraz Island, from September 27 to October 1, and competing sailors can expect some of the finest annual conditions that this world-class venue reliably delivers.

San Francisco Bay enjoys a storied reputation for breeze-on summer sailing, while its winter months can be “a little” damp. Late-September, however, usually offers Indian summer conditions featuring warm days with slightly moderated airs, making it ideal for the J/70—a sprit boat that can get her bow up and out of the water off the wind.

While San Francisco Bay is notorious for its currents and tides, racing will be held on the Berkeley Circle venue which is located on shallow, tide-protected waters, out of the slippery influence of the swiftest-flowing current that rake the Bay’s deeper waters. Not only will this deliver conditions that play into the J/70’s design brief, but it also ensures that world-class tactics, teamwork and tenacity—not local knowledge—determine the winner’s podium.

“Expectations are high for this event,” said Lynn Lynch, St. Francis Yacht Club’s Race Director. “Model sailing conditions, world-class talent, top-level race management and unbelievable socials will all come together to result in a World Championship worthy of the fastest-growing fleet around. The anticipation is palpable, and we are expecting people to come ready for some serious competition.”

A glance at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds entry list reveals 80 star-studded boats from 15 nations, including J/70 World Champions Tim Healy (Helly Hansen) and Julian Fernandez Neckelmann (Flojito Y Cooperando); J/70 North American Champions Jud Smith (Africa) and Joe Bardenheier (Muse); as well as J/70 European Champions Carlo Alberini (Calvi Network) and Claudia Rossi (Petite Terrible).

Additionally, this impressive list also includes world-class tacticians such as John Kostecki, the only sailor to have ever won an Olympic medal, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as US Sailing Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year winners Bill Hardesty (2011) and Paul Cayard (1998).

By holding their Worlds on San Francisco Bay, the J/70 class joins the ranks of other prestigious One Design classes that have contested their highest-level regatta on these historic waters and enjoyed the St. Francis Yacht Club’s world-class hospitality. Impressive company to keep for a class that just started sailing in 2012, and has only held two previous world championships, first in Newport, Rhode Island (2014) and then in La Rochelle, France (2015).

“We couldn’t be happier with how widespread J/70 sailing has become in just four years,” said Jeff Johnstone, President of J/Boats. “Hull numbers 1103 through 1111 are the latest to be built and will be competing at the San Francisco Worlds right alongside hull #2.”

Along with a big spike in hull numbers comes a corollary spike in boatspeed from all corners of the planet. “The class’ [competition] level is going up very fast, with more talented sailors joining every year,” said 2015 J/70 World Champion and 2016 J/70 North American Champion, Julian Fernandez Neckelmann.

While this surge in numbers and skill levels could overwhelm some classes and hosting clubs, there’s a reason this hugely popular class chose its hosting partner. “The St. Francis Yacht Club and the [J/70] class will certainly provide excellent race management,” continued Neckelmann. “San Francisco is one of my favorite racing scenarios in the world… It would have been hard to [choose] a better place.”

Title sponsor Alcatel is supplying smartphones to each boat that will be used as onboard trackers to report real-time positions, facilitating a state-of-the-art virtual spectator experience for those ashore.

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Source: St. Francis Yacht Club

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