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King Harbor YC crowned U.S. J/70 Youth Champions

by J/Boats 25 Nov 2018 15:40 PST 18-19 November 2018
J/70 Youth Championship final day © Matthew Cohen / www.cohenphotography.com

The 2018 U.S. J/70 Youth Championship, hosted by St Petersburg YC in St Petersburg, FL, concluded with a total of twenty-one races over the three days for the seven youth teams from across America. The teams enjoyed the short-course "stadium-style" racing of 20 minutes per race, sailing the StPYC's perfectly-matched fleet of J/70's just off the beautiful St Petersburg city waterfront. Winning the event in a convincing fashion was the King Harbor YC Youth Team (Kyle Collins, Brock Paquin, River Paquin, and Justin Zmina).

The regatta was blessed with a remarkable weather pattern that lasted the entire weekend. As the northeastern region of the USA was blasted by its first winter storm, paralyzing major cities like New York, the southeast region of the continent-spanning frontal system provided nice N to NE breezes for four straight days with gorgeous sunny skies. Here is how it all went down over the weekend.

Day One

The St. Petersburg YC welcomed the teams at the 8:30am Captain's meeting and, facing winds gusting to 25 kts at 7:00am, Regatta Chairman and PRO Todd Fedyszyn wisely postponed for one hour. With a forecast of NNE winds of 15-20 kts diminishing to 6-15 kts by day's end, the teams were blessed with a perfectly sunny, cool day, with not a cloud in the sky. As a result, the teams sailed a fast-paced series of ten races of about 20 minutes each, finishing by 4:00pm.

Starting off with a 2-1-1-1, there was no question the team from King Harbor YC (Kyle Collins, Brock Paquin, River Paquin, and Justin Zmina) in Los Angeles, CA were determined to set a high bar for the rest of the top youth keelboat teams from across the country. A few lapses in concentration in races 5 and 7 were their only blemish on a record that closed with three bullets to lead the fleet with 16 pts total.

Their arch-nemesis all day long was the Chicago YC team headed by Ray Groble and crew of Bridgette Groble, Remington King, and Jack Hemmelgarn. While emphatically winning the first race, the Chicago team accumulated six more 2nds in the ten races to comfortably hold on to second place.

Sitting in third was Little Traverse YC skippered by the top woman skipper Merideth Moran and her team of Ellie Wagner, Molly Matthews, Luke Baker, and Jack Miller.

Day Two

Based on the weather forecast that indicated a brisk north/ northeaster of 8-12 kts in the morning would diminish to 3-5 kts by mid-afternoon, the StPYC PRO Todd Fedyszyn immediately sent the teams out to start promptly at 10:00am in the morning. The stated goal for the day was to get in at least seven races. In the end, the amazing RC and mark set boat teams managed to pump out eight races before the wind diminished to below the 4-5 kts threshold at 3:00pm.

Starting off where they left off the first day, King Harbor YC Youth Team's won the first race of the day in what only could be described as a "horizon job", despite the short course. Thereafter, they accumulated five more 1sts in the eight races to extend their lead in the championship by 21 pts.

Jumping into second place with an amazingly consistent day was the Little Traverse YC Youth Team with top woman skipper Merideth Moran. They posted five 2nds in those eight races and had a total of 58 pts by day's end.

Not having one of their better days was Chicago YC Youth Team's skipper Ray Groble. In the shifty, variable conditions, they started off with a promising 3-2-3 in the first three races. But, then the wheels fell of their shopping trolley, posting a tough 6-6-2-6-5 record for their last four races to drop back into third on the leaderboard, 8 pts off the pace from second place.

Day Three

Given that the enormous front that first hit on Thursday was losing a lot of steam, it was not surprising to see the forecast for Sunday's racing was indicating even lighter winds. The morning dawned grey with overcast skies, with winds again ranging from 30 to 45 deg, light from the NNE at 4-7 kts. The StPYC PRO wisely scheduled a half-hour earlier start time of 9:30am with the goal of completing at least two races. In the end, three races were run for a total of 21 races in three days!

The sailing was tough on the tacticians, as the puffs were streaky and spotty across the race track. Mastering the day was Merideth Moran's Little Traverse YC team, winning two of the races and adding a 2nd to win the day by a large margin. Also, showing vast improvement since their first day was South Carolina YC's youth team (Matthew Monts, Bradlee Anderson, Colin Meidler, James Thurlow, and Bobby Soares), posting an equally impressive 3-2-2 in their final races to take 2nd for the day! Having their toughest day of the regatta was Ray Groble's Chicago YC Youth Team, having to contend with a PMS, a mark rounding foul, and another PMS, resulting in a 7-7-7 tally.

In the end, King Harbor YC's youth team sailed an amazing event, closing out their finale with a 1-4-3 to win by a 17-point margin; that record included fourteen bullets in the 21 races! Taking the silver was Little Traverse YC's youth team, garnering the best record of the fleet in the last five races (2-2-2-1-1). And, despite their miserable last day, the Chicago YC team had sailed such a strong event in the previous two days that they managed to hold on to the bronze medal on the podium!

Full results: yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=6108

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