Going Where No One Has Gone Before

Published on October 19th, 2016

While there is a growing trend of recognizing amateur efforts amid events with a preponderance of professional teams, the J/70 US Class Association is taking a bold step by hosting the inaugural J/70 US Corinthian National Championship to be held October 20-23 in Annapolis, MD. US Class Secretary Kristen Robinson explains how this idea got started…

There has been some grumbling within the US National Class that the “everyday Joe” had a hard time competing at the major events because of the enormous professional interest and presence in the Class.

But we also recognize that the professionals bring along an excitement that helps fuel sail development and forward momentum, so we thought a US Corinthian National Championship that is a separate event that would not normally be on a professionals schedule (i.e. not cut into their expected pay) would be a great compromise.

There was very minimal push back, and most of it was only from the initial surprise of the event. We are using the normally held Fall Brawl regatta for the Nationals, and with 45 boats currently entered, that’s more boats than usual for this event (31 boats in 2015). Further, amongst the entries we have many competitors that have either not traveled at all, or have minimal travel miles with the boat.

It is notable that the Corinthian Nationals has more entries than the 2016 North Americans (39 boats) which was held in May in Texas. The North Americans saw 80% of the entries with a professional sailor on board, and it was some of the toughest competition I ever experienced. But the entry list scared away many “average Joe” competitors – I know because I talked to many of them. That is how the idea of having a Corinthian-only event got started.

The professional sailors are supporting the event through sponsorship and panel discussions. Both North Sails and Ullman Sails are sending boats on the water each day with coaches and J World has organized panel discussions with these sailmakers every evening. In addition, Sail 22 donated their personal J/70 to the event to be used by an Annapolis Junior team!

As for the turnout, we did expect a few more Corinthian entries from the local Annapolis fleet but overall we are pleasantly surprised at the vast entries we did receive from almost all over the US. Also, many of the traditionally “professional boats” (for example, Reach Around, Hooligan, Papa Wheelie, Sea Bags) have all been chartered for the event. And not all were from Annapolis!

When we got started organizing this event, we truthfully had no idea what to expect. Per surveys and “dock talk”, it seemed that the event was something that the Class members really supported and wanted. But would they show up? Thus far, it seems they have.

The US Class, which does not host a US Nationals, is planning on having a North Americans and a US Corinthian Nationals each year as long as the Class members support and want the events. The 2017 US Corinthian Nationals are already scheduled and we are thinking of ways to continue to increase the amount of non-racing participation from professional sailors.

Editor’s note: The J/70 Class, which does not restrict Group 3 (professional) sailors, has also designated the 2017 US Midwinter Championship as a ‘one Group 3 (pro) per boat’ event. While the Worlds and North American Championships will continue to remain open regattas per Class Rules, local event organizers are able to choose if their event will be open or to invoke existing class rules to limit participation by professionals.

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