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Marine Resources 2017 728x90

2017 J/111 World Championship - Preview

by Jboats.com on 21 Aug 2017
J/111 World Championship St. Francis Yacht Club
Every team’s journey to a starting line is a tale of organization, crew alignment, vessel preparation and practice. Add in international travel, and the complexity snowballs. Then, weave in the pressures and prestige of a World Championship— in this case the 2017 J/111 World Championships (August 23-27, 2017), hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California — and the situation compounds. The emphasis on organization and practice is a constant, but the logistics escalate the farther afield you venture.

But, what if the crew is (mostly) from Australia, the regatta is in San Francisco, and the boat is one that no one on the team has sailed? For skipper Rod Warren (AUS) and his crew, the rhumbline to the 2017 J/111 Worlds hasn’t been simple. While Warren has owned and raced his J/111 JOUST (AUS 1110) for the last four years in Melbourne, Australia, bringing her to the USA was a bridge too far. With transpacific vessel shipping off the table, he said “the hardest thing was finding a charter boat and a good owner.” When these efforts came up shy, Warren got creative.

One of Warren’s Aussie mates, Phil Simpfendorfer, was shopping for a J/111 and found one in the Bay Area (Rob Theis’s former Aeolus). Phone calls and discussions ensued, and — to cut a long, dead-downwind leg short — Simpfendorfer generously offered Warren and crew (including Bay Area locals Chris Watts and Jennifer Canestra) a crack at the World Championship title using his boat before she gets shipped back to Australia.

“It's a lucky break and an incredibly generous friend,” said Warren, who is now busily preparing for San Francisco conditions. “We love the wind and are used to big seas. Recently, we’ve been sailing in heavier winds, perfecting some new techniques. Time will tell if they work.”

The St. Francis YC is no stranger to hosting international teams for World Championship events, or to welcoming sailors to San Francisco Bay’s gorgeous natural amphitheater. “My event co-chair Susan Ruhne and I are looking forward to welcoming competitors and their families to the Club,” said Gerard Sheridan, co-chair of the 2017 J/111 Worlds. “We love sharing the St. Francis YC experience with visitors, many who will be here for the first time.”

In addition, for some sailors first experiencing St. Francis YC and the Bay through this regatta, this will be the first time the J/111 Class (established 2012) will host an international championship on the West Coast, as their previous two World Championships were in the United Kingdom (2014 and 2016) and Newport, Rhode Island (2015).

“With our typical August conditions here on the Bay, a fleet of local and visiting J/111s will be a sight to behold, planing downwind in the afternoon breeze,” said Sheridan.

Of the ten teams currently registered, four are from the Bay Area while the other six, including Warren’s JOUST crew, are from elsewhere. “Local knowledge is almost always a factor at most racing venues,” said Sheridan. “However, I find most good visiting teams to the Bay quickly get the big picture of our current patterns, tidal cycles, and rules of thumb that locals are happy to share.”

Sheridan suggested that visiting teams consider arriving a week early and competing in the Aldo Alessio and Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta (August 19-21). He also advised that St. Francis YC’s world-famous Rolex Big Boat Series (September 14-17) unfurls a few weeks later and could be a consideration for teams that mastered the Bay during the J/111 Worlds.

No matter your plotted rhumbline to this World Championship, you can bet your last shackle that St. Francis YC’s seasoned Race Committee will deliver world-class racecourse management and the Club’s shoreside volunteers and staff will ensure welcoming après-sailing activities.

For more about J/111 World Championship sailing - Click here.
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