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An interview with Marty Galligan about the 2019 J/105 North American Championship

by David Schmidt 3 Sep 08:00 PDT September 4-8, 2019
Tight racing in the J/105 fleet made for a dramatic conclusion to the 2019 Marblehead NOOD. © Paul Todd / Outside Images / NOOD

When the discussion turns to Corinthian racing aboard mid-sized keelboats, the venerable J/105 always comes to mind as one of the best boats afloat. True, the design, which Rod Johnstone penned in 1991, isn’t new, however the boat offered some revolutionary thinking when it was first splashed, including the first retractable sprit pole for easy asymmetrical-spinnaker handling aboard a production build; an ergonomic cockpit and deck layout, and enough horsepower to properly light-up when conditions allow.

And while the boats are built tough enough for some offshore work, they have long proven themselves to be fantastic shorthanded and fully-crewed buoy-racing machines for both local regattas and national competitions such as the 2019 BVI Tourism J/105 North American Championship, which will be hosted by the Corinthian Yacht Club, on the waters off of Marblehead, Massachusetts, from September 4-8.

For the unfamiliar, this coastal community is home to some 19,808 souls (as of the 2010 census), including some of the country’s fastest sailors. Not surprisingly, given the town’s rich sailing heritage and its proximity to nearby Boston, Marblehead is home to the J/105 Class Fleet #2, and, as a result, enjoys strong One Design racing, both at casual Wednesday night races and during the community’s more serious weekend events.

Couple this enthusiasm for a great design with the town’s sailing-obsessed culture, and one quickly has the trimmings of a fantastic North American Championship. I checked in with Marty Galligan, co-captain of the J/105 Class Fleet #2, via email, to learn more about this exciting event.

How many boats are you expecting at the North Americans? Also, do you expect most boats to hail from the greater New England area, or will you see teams from across the country?

We expect 25-30 boats at the J/105 North American Championships this year. There's a 50-50 split between locals and travelling competitors.

The most distant are three entrants from California, and three from Texas.

What kind of weather conditions can sailors expect? What are the best-case and worst-case scenarios?

We're racing on September 5-8, which typically gives us the best weather of our season, steady breezes in the 10-20 knot zone.

The worst-case weather outcome? A hurricane. If one blows through, we'll have to hunker down for a day.

How important do you think local knowledge will be?

Local knowledge can be a benefit. The sea breeze kicks in predictably around 1 PM each day when the day is warm and there is little cloud cover.

The other big local trick would be understanding the tidal flow between Boston and Gloucester. There's a local broker who will occasionally write an article about the local racing conditions called "Bump's World".

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?

Get in phase with the shifts, and note the changes as the day progresses.

Do you have any teams that you are eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

There are three local teams that have a likely shot at top finish, and four of the travelling entrants either have plenty of local Marblehead knowledge, or have previously won a class championship.

In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score? Also, how many races will you run per day?

Three races per day for four days would be a very full regatta.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lowest the regatta’s environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

One of our sponsors has focused on reusable water bottles as their contribution. We are also working together with Sailors for the Sea.

Anything else about the regatta that you’d like to add, for the record?

When you're on the water, sail all-out, and when we put the boats away for the evening, enjoy Marblehead's lively sailing community.

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