J/109 NA’s: Courageous takes all

Published on August 1st, 2021

Chicago, IL (August 1, 2021) – The long-awaited, postponed 2020 J/109 North American Championships took place in Lake Michigan this past weekend July 29 – August 1, 2021, hosted by Columbia Yacht Club.

To come out on top, teams needed to succeed in all the conditions the Windy City threw at them; in the end, Courageous was the leader of both the Championship and Corinthian divisions. Helmsman Ray Douglas described the competition between the 10 boats as “intense,” and added, “I feel really grateful to be racing against all these guys in this great venue and am thankful for all of the out of town boats who came in.”

Team GrowthSpurt, from the East Coast, chartered a local J109 and gave the eventual winners a run for their money, dominating in the lighter air on the first day. Day 2 saw an on-shore postponement after waves built to 8’+ in the overnight storm. With waves breaking over the stern of a mark-boat, the RC decided to cancel racing for the day.

Eager to make up for lost time on the water, the fleet squeezed in 4 more races in lighter air on Day 3, moving Courageous into the lead in both the Championship and Corinthian divisions. An overnight pressure system brought in completely different conditions for Day 4, making for some gnarly takedowns (and exciting drone footage) as teams battled the heavy waves and breeze in the last race of the series.

The action on the water was only just the beginning. Each evening, organizer Mike Hettel and fleet captain Keith Eickenberg, clad in matching J/109 NAC aprons, “cooked up a good show” while awarding the expected daily first trophies, as well as fun awards, such as “Dizziest boat of the day” (Smee Again, for the most penalty turns) and “Hottest Mic” (Liquid Lounge, for keying their VHF mic during the downwind run)!

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Source: Rebecca Ashburn

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