Families prepare for J/22 Worlds
Published on July 30th, 2018
Doyle family reunions are often held at major J/22 class events. There have been times, such as last year’s North American Championship, when there have been four different Doyle entries with brothers Chris, Kevin and Peter leading the way. Jake Doyle has joined the fray, competing against his father (Kevin) and uncles.
On those occasions, winning the series is secondary to capturing the competition among family.
“We like to refer to it as the regatta within the regatta. Being the top Doyle is more important than where you finish in the overall standings,” Kevin Doyle said. “There is nothing worse than being the bottom Doyle.”
Three of the Doyles – Chris, Kevin and Jake – are entered in the 2018 J/22 World Championships, being held September 9 through 14 on the Chesapeake Bay and hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club in Annapolis, MD.
“My primary goal going into Worlds is to beat my father and uncle,” said Jake, an Annapolis Yacht Club member for the past six years. “It will be very tough to do. They both have great teams and a lot more experience.”
Chris Doyle captured the 2015 J/22 World Championship held in Travemunde, Germany and was runner-up the following year in Kingston, Canada. Kevin Doyle, who has sailed with longtime friend Victor Snyder for more than two decades, has posted a couple Top 10 finishes.
This will be the third J/22 World Championship for Jake Doyle, but his first as a boat owner. Jake will be skippering USA 789 with fellow Annapolis residents Van Walke (bow) and Nick Moreau (middle) as crew.
Jake Doyle made his world championship debut in 2008 as helmsman aboard a boat owned by his older brother Ben. A decade later, Jake bought that same J/22 after Ben pointed out it was for sale by an owner in Canada.
Jake took delivery in early 2017 and posted a pair of impressive results that year – placing third at the Annapolis stop of the National Offshore One-Design series and sixth at the North American Championship in his hometown of Buffalo.
All the Doyles cut their teeth as racers in Youngstown, New York, located at the bottom of the Niagara River where it flows into Lake Ontario. Jake Doyle learned to sail in a Nutshell before transitioning into the Club 420. He was introduced to big boat racing aboard his grandfather’s C&C 29 and crewed on a J/22 skippered by his father in the Wednesday Night Series out of Youngstown Yacht Club.
Kevin Doyle sailed collegiately at the University of Rhode Island while his son was part of the offshore program at New York Maritime. “We’re a sailing family going back to my great-grandfather,” Jake said.
When Kevin started steering Vic Snyder’s boat he brought Jake aboard as bowman. He remained part of the crew until departing for college then switched to sailing with his brother.
“I’ve always enjoyed sailing in this class. It’s a fun group of people to compete against, and the J/22 is a great boat to jump into and have fun while enjoying good racing,” Jake said.
Based off recent record, Chris Doyle and his crew aboard The Jug 4.1 are favored in the family competition at the 2018 J/22 World Championship, which is being presented by Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis. Chris is blessed with a top-notch crew consisting of former Old Dominion University All-American Adam Burns as trimmer and tactician and Will Harris as bowman.
“I would say that Chris’s program has been the strongest,” Kevin Doyle admitted. “If I were to choose a single word as to why that is the case I would say dedication. Chris is on his third boat, all of which were new, and invests in sails.”
While the Doyle family will be competing against each other, the Deane family will be racing together. Russ Deane will be reuniting with his sons Rusty and Robbie for the 2018 J/22 World Championship and returning to the city they called home for three decades.
“We lived in Annapolis for a long time and I taught my kids how to sail behind our house on Weems Creek,” Russ said.
The Deane family raced a Cal 25 named Valhalla on the Chesapeake Bay with Russ later owning a J/22, J/24 and Merit 25 named Chardonnay that did quite well in the old MORC class.
Rusty and Robbie developed into outstanding sailors, becoming All-Americans at Boston University. Robbie is the longtime operator of the Baltimore Sailing Center after previously serving as Director of Sailing at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Rusty, who once crewed for Terry Hutchinson in the J/24 World Championship held off Wales, lives in the Cleveland area and recently took over as head of The Foundry Sailing and Rowing Center on Lake Erie.
“Both of my boys are on the water every day and are outstanding sailors,” Russ said.
Back in 1994, Russ had his sons aboard as crew for the last J/22 World Championship held off Annapolis. They could not pass up the opportunity to have a reunion 24 years later in their former hometown, knowing it would be a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane.
“I stopped racing sailboats because it wasn’t the same experience without my sons being involved,” Russ said. “That is why I am so excited about doing Worlds. We’re going to be back together again for the first time since the Leukemia Cup at Cleveland Yacht Club about 12 years ago. We’re all really looking forward to this.”
Russ is now 74-years-old and readily admits he does not get around on a small boat as well as he once did but should have no trouble handling the middle. Rob, 46, will steer while Rusty, 43, will work the bow aboard the entry appropriately named Deaneaphobia. They are sailing a boat being chartered from Annapolis Yacht Club which makes its J/22s available to members and are confident about being competitive.
“My wife and I just got back from Europe and I’m starting my exercise tomorrow,” said Russ, who now lives in Panama City, Florida. “It’s fairly strenuous activity on these boats.”