Heat is on as J/70 World Champs begin
Published on August 11th, 2021
Marina del Rey, CA (August 11, 2021) – An over-enthusiastic fleet of J/70s bolted off the line on day one of racing at the J/70 World Championship regatta here, hosted by California Yacht Club. “You all jumped the gun by three seconds,” boomed Principal Race Office (PRO) Mark Foster over the VHF, prompting the credentialed international race officer to hoist the U flag.
It’s no wonder. The overzealous fleet has been champing at the bit for two years, awaiting for event, which was postponed due to the pandemic. Through tenacity and persistence organizers at Cal Yacht Club – led by Chair Marylyn Hoenemeyer – are hosting 61 boats from 11 nations in the 10-race series, which runs through August 15.
Atypical cloudy skies fanned over the course, but the breeze held at 6 to 8 knots from the southwest. The overcast skies offered blessed relief from blistering temperatures inland, but the race action was hot!
When the fleet bolted off the line shortly after noon, it was Maggie McKillen and the crew aboard Magatron who led the fleet, pole to pole, to capture the Race One.
“We’re really stoked! There’s a lot of pressure being new to the fleet,” said McKillen, who just started sailing the J/70 a year ago, “but the guys I sail with know to keep the mood light and airy. I don’t pay attention to any other boats around me, so I don’t get anxious. My crew knows that; we focus on having fun and make a really good team.”
McKillen said her husband, Ryan McKillen campaigning Surge in the regatta, got into J/70 sailing three years ago. “I was always on the sidelines watching and finally said I want to do this too.” Since then they have been ‘sparring partners’ – although with a child due in December, she conceded, “we have a great chemistry on and off the water.”
Second across the line was Dark Energy, with another woman – Laura Grondin – at the helm. “Laura and our team are really good friends, and it’s always fun to see your friends next to you and doing well,” said McKillen.
“Although this has been a male dominated sport, the fleet has been super supportive, really open and encouraging.” This is a fleet for “everybody,” she added. “You shouldn’t be intimated, just go out there and have fun.”
Dark Energy ended the day in fifth overall.
Race two was won by Brian Keane and the crew of Savasana, placing them to the top of the leaderboard at the end of Day One. However, they are not alone, tied with Bruce Golison at seven points each.
The roster includes one half dozen entries from Mexico, in addition to the 42 from the USA; plus three from Chile, two from Brazil, two from Great Britain, and one each from Cayman Islands, Germany, Spain, Turkey, and Uruguay.
Gustavo Coll, skipper of Farrista and Commodore of YC Uruguayo in Montevideo, brought his entire family to the USA to campaign – and take a bit of a vacation. “It was a unanimous decision to come here with all the family,” he said. “I race with my kids, so when we qualified for this event in the 2019 South Americans, we decided to merge our family’s common passion and come here.”
He described son Sebastian as a “tough crew member” while daughter Cecilia campaigned for the Rio Olympics and son Juan is an Opti champion. “We are a great team, here to test against the best in the world. We’ve seen some extremely well prepared boats, and a lot of professionals who sail most of the year. We, as Corinthians, sail only on the weekends but we are here to fight.”
An entourage of six boats from Mexico made it to the regatta, with Marco Sparvieri of Buena Junta saying, “It was a bit difficult because the border was closed: crossing the border was a little bit complex, but we made it. It’s the most important J/70 competition of the year so we all want to be here and do our best, compete, have fun. The nice thing about this class is people of all ages can compete together and be competitive, so it’s a really nice class.”
Mexico has a large J/70 fleet which races in Valle de Bravo, near Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta. “We know each other very well,” he admitted, “but this is very competitive: the top in the world, so we are very excited and hope we’ll learn and have a lot of fun,” added Sparvieri
Today’s courses were roughly 1.3nm long windward-leeward laps, twice around. Ten races are planned for August 11-15.
Preliminary Results (Top 10 of 61; 2 races)
1. Brian Keane/ Ron Weed/ Bill Hardesty/ Alec Anderson, USA – 6 -1; 7
2. Bruce Golison/ Steve Hunt/ Erik Shampain/ Jeff Reynolds, USA – 3 -4; 7
3. Andres Ducasse Soruco/ Ignacio Ducasse Soruco/ Francisco Ducasse Soruco/ Rodrigo Ducasse Soruco/ Andres Ducasse Jr, CHI – 4 -9; 13
4. Peter Duncan/ Willem van Waay/ Morgan Trubovich/ Victor Diaz de Leon, USA – 5 -11; 16
5. Laura Grondin/ Taylor Canfield/ Michael Buckley/ Scott Ewing, USA – 2 -15; 17
6. Travis Odenbach/ Ian Coleman/ Marty Kullman/ Geoff Becker, USA – 13 -5; 18
7. James Prendergast/ Christian Prendergast/ Hector Gusman/ Mac Agnese, USA – 8 -13; 21
8. Rich Festa/ Tony Festa/ Allie Blecher/ Mary Stuyvesant, USA – 19 -3; 22
9. Mallory & Andrew Loe/ Giancarlo Nucci/ Cardwell Potts, USA – 16 -7; 23
10. Scott Spurlin/ Evan Aras/ Reed Baldridge/ Austin Powers, USA – 9 -18; 27
Source: Betsy Senescu