Coming of Age for J/111 Class

Published on April 19th, 2017

Since launching in August of 2010, the J/111 class has enjoyed steady, sustainable growth for a high-end, mid-sized keelboat, with more than 120 boats now sailing in over 12 countries. The class debuted their World Championships in 2014 in Cowes, UK, then in Newport, Rhode Island for 2015 before returning last year to Cowes.

But the 2017 J/111 World Championship (August 23-27), hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club (StFYC) in San Francisco, California, will represent the first time this has contested their Worlds on the West Coast.

To date, nine American-flagged boats have entered the 2017 J/111 Worlds, including local Peter Wagner (StFYC) and his Skeleton Key (USA-115) crew, who were runner-up at the 2016 J/111 Worlds and won this year’s Key West Race Week.

Skeleton Key will be joined on the starting line by other talented and locally savvy teams, including Dick Swanson (StFYC) and his Bad Dog (USA-103) crew and Reuben Rocci’s (Richmond Yacht Club) Swift Ness (USA-101) squad.

As for the competitors, there’s no question that holding the 2017 J/111 Worlds on San Francisco Bay represents a coming-of-age for the class, especially when it comes to brass-against-the-bulkheads spinnaker sets and gybes.

“There’s an old saying: ‘If you can sail in San Francisco Bay, you can sail anywhere in the world,’” said Rob Theis, owner and skipper of the J/111 Aeolus (USA-007), noting the challenges of tides and strong wind. “Prepare well and never give up… it’s a bucket-list venue you won’t forget.”

Historical data points to August as a great sailing month on the Bay. “Typically the first race of the day will have wind speeds in the low to mid-teens,” explained event co-chair Gerard Sheridan. “As we get into the afternoon and it heats up inland, the breeze can pipe up into the high teens with gusts into the low-20s.

With the club’s location alongside the Bay, spectating is possible within reach of a hot lunch. “In a flood tide, you’ll have all the boats short-tacking along the City Front, providing those on shore—and particularly on our Race Deck—quite a spectacle,” noted Sheridan.

And if you get there early enough, the club is famous for their Ramos Fizz. This “breakfast in a glass” is a St. Francis favorite. Just ask for Jessie… you won’t regret it.

Source: StFYC, Scuttlebutt

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