2022 J/22 World Championship
Published on July 8th, 2022
The 2022 Marriot Investment Managers J/22 World Championship was held July 3-8 on the waters offshore of Durban, South Africa. Two-dozen teams from South Africa, the Cayman Islands, and the Netherlands were blessed for the most part with classic Durban conditions for 11 races.
In the middle of South Africa’s eastern coastline, Durban faces the island nation of Mozambique, and in between is the infamous Mozambique Straits. For those in the know, winds can whip up quickly, and the swiftly flowing northerly current (like its counterpart – the Gulf Stream – off the eastern USA coastline) can rapidly disintegrate into a cauldron of steep breaking waves in a strong northerly breeze.
The J/22 fleet got a taste of that element for a day, interspersed with some glorious sailing off the Durban city waterfront, with winds too light on the final day for racing.
In the end, it was readily apparent after the first two days of racing the protagonists in the evolving epic battle for world supremacy in J/22s would come down to two very well-sailed teams. Local heroes on NITRO JUICE (skipper David Rae and crew of Sean van Rensburg and Siyanda Vato) were up against past J/22 World Champion and “King of the Caribbean” in the form of a powerful team from the Cayman Islands – Mike Harrington and his team on RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, Dre Giovannini and Joe Palone.
Starting with a bullet in race one, Rae’s NITRO JUICE team was eager to put their stamp on the championship, sailing fast and smart and keeping themselves out of trouble. Their steely focus led them to an astonishing record of five 1sts and four 2nds to win with the shocking final tally of a mere 13 points after two discards.
Determined to give it their best shot, Farrington’s aptly-named RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, started with a trio of 4ths. But, the team somehow lived up to their namesake in races 6 and 11, falling on their scissors, and posting double-digit races of 13 and 7. Consequently, despite posting six podium finishes, it wasn’t enough to overcome the blistering pace of their colleagues on NITRO JUICE. The SCISSOR gang ended up with 24 points to take the silver.
Perhaps the biggest battle was for the final step on the podium. Richard Weddell’s crew on DA J (Rudy McNeill and Struan Campbell), Richard Weiderhold’s BATTLE AXE III team (Greg Plunkett and Dylan Emmet), and Markus Progli’s NITRO MONKEY team (Murry Wilcocks and Ryan Black) fought “tooth & nail” every day to earn the coveted bronze medal.
Starting slowly in the first seven races, the DA J team averaged 7th place, but they seemingly broke out a can of Popeye’s “whupass” spinach, flexed their bulging muscles, and closed the regatta with a mind-blowing 5-3-3-1 to vault them onto the bronze medal step by just two points over their nemesis on BATTLE AXE III.