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Winner’s Debrief: J/22 World Championship

Published on September 25th, 2018

As Hurricane Florence made its approach toward the USA, it became an unexpected variable for the 64 teams at the 2018 J/22 World Championship. The race was on to complete the event, a race won by Zeke Horowitz and his team of Jackson Benvenutti, Jo Ann Fisher and Emmy Stuart. Here they discuss how they did it.

To avoid the storm, the schedule was shortened one day. How did that affect strategy?

Zeke: When we heard they were going to front-load as much racing as they could, it didn’t really alter our approach all that much. We just knew the first couple days might be long so we brought some extra rations so we could stay healthy out there. But our hard focus for the first couple of says was still the same – DON’T LOSE THE REGATTA. You can’t win the regatta in the first day or two, but you can certainly lose it. We just tried to avoid big mistakes and give ourselves a shot at the end of the regatta.

As usual, consistency won the Worlds. How did you achieve this?

Jackson – A main contributing factor for our consistency came from Zeke’s excellent starting abilities. I’d develop the game plan, and then the area of the line that I wanted to start, and then he’d execute perfectly from there. Starting in low density areas of the starting line is a low-risk/ high-reward game plan, so we’d generally start near where we thought was the favored end of the line, but safely away from the pack. If for some reason the extreme end of the line was not crowded, then we’d jump at the opportunity. Making sure to pay attention to the location of the pack from about 2:30 before the start really helps to make sure you don’t mistakenly get caught up in it.

Emmy – Jackson had an innate view of the course, current, line and fleet and was very audible about the game plan for each race from the get-go, thus putting us in all the right spots. He was mostly conservative, which helped us manage the fleet, and was positive and patient when a shift didn’t go our way. Zeke always had the boat hooked up and going so fast (it also helps that he is incredible at starting) And on the course Jackson and Zeke were almost constantly talking through changing gears and minor adjustments to really put the boat through the water.

Most teams sail the J/22 with three but you had four. Was that an advantage?

Jo Ann –The extra set of hands and eyes is key. One of us could be looking for upwind boats, logs (so much debris in the water), leeward marks etc. while the other one looked for breeze. Also weight placement downwind with four people really helps to balance the boat as we can fine tune the weight placement. Emmy and I work great together and would report different info such as puffs, relatives, compass headings etc. The whole team worked well together and really respected one another which made it easy to sail well.

For complete interview… click here.

Winning team (from left): Jo Ann Fisher, Zeke Horowitz, Jackson Benvenutti, Emmy Stuart

Racing was held September 11 to 13 for 64 teams represented Canada, The Netherlands, South Africa and the USA.

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