Will Welles of Portsmouth, RI, led his Cougar team to the J/24 US National Championship, hosted by Beverly Yacht Club in Massachusetts.
With Alex Bishop, Luke Lawrence, Eric Lawrence and Nick Turney on board, Welles managed six first-place tallies in the 10 races for just 27 net points. He overcame a penalty in race eight, and ended with a scoring line of 1,11,4,6,1,1,1,[19/(30%)],1,1. Cougar finished 12 points ahead of second-place John Mollicone on Helly Hansen, while Michael Marshall’s Pipe Dream received the bronze position with 45 points.
Welles commended his last-minute crew, including Eric Lawrence who was trimming the genoa for the first time ever on a J/24. 'It was remarkable that he stepped up to the plate,' said Welles. 'It was a huge part of our success.' The other key, he explained, was working to get the mast butt positioned just right. 'Early on in the regatta, we were a little late to push it forward. The mast we have is pretty bendy so we have to be aggressive with the mast butt.' After moving it forward quite a bit after Saturday’s first race, Cougar found that extra gear.
Sunday dawned another beautiful day in Marion for the 45 teams, including entrants from across the United States, along with several Canadian crews and even representatives from Japan, France and Australia. With winds between 12-14 knots, Mollicone earned the win in Sunday’s initial duel, as Tony Parker’s Bangor Packet and Marshall filled out the top spots. Welles put up another bullet in the next race, when winds stabilized at 10-12 knots. Mike Ingham’s Nautalytic tracked in second and Parker in third. In the last battle of the Championship, Welles locked in the title with a first, with Pat Toole and Ingham behind.
Winning the six-boat Women’s Division was Natalie Penner’s Giggles. The top five overall:
1) Will Welles, Cougar, 27 points
2) John Mollicone, Helly Hansen, 39 points
3) Michael Marshall, Pipe Dream, 45 points
4) Mike Ingham, Nautalytic, 46 points
5) Travis Odenbach, Honey Badger, 51 points Event website