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An interview with Mark Pincus about the 2019 J/24 World Championship

by David Schmidt 15 Oct 08:00 PDT October 19-26, 2019
Day 3 of the 40th J/24 World Championship © Elena Giolai

When it comes to One Design keelboats, the J/24 reigns supreme both for the total number of boats built, and for boasting one of the most dedicated groups of sailors afloat. Sure, the boats, which were designed in 1977, are not exactly on the sport’s bleeding edge. But with more than 5,500 boats sailing in some 40 countries, the class’ sheer numbers almost always guarantees competitive racing at local-level events, and the class’ travel regattas still draw some of the world’s fastest sailors.

A great example of this is the class’ 2019 World Championship (October 19-26), which is being organized by Twelve USA, Inc., the J/24 Fleet 10, the U.S. J/24 Class Association, and the International J/24 Class Association, and which will be contested on the waters off of Miami, Florida.

As of this writing, 83 boats from 18 countries have registered to race, including many top names such as former World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz and his always-fast Bruschetta (BRA 37) team and 2018 J/24 World Champion Will Welles and his Buckaroo (USA 5235) squad, as well as most of the class’ other fastest guns.

I checked in with Mark Pincus, regatta chair of the 2019 J/24 World Championship, via email, to learn more about this high-level One Design regatta.

How many boats are you expecting at this year’s Worlds? Also, do you expect that most teams will be flying sails that read “USA” in front of their numbers or do you expect a lot of international entries?

We started with a cap of 80 entries...raised it to 85 when we hit 80 and currently at 83 with one or two entries pending! Currently 19 countries represented and some countries with multiple entries. Scratch sheet is more than 25% International!

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

Best case is Biscayne Bay's 12-15 knot southeasterly and easily expected in October. Worst case just passed us—her name was Dorian and hopefully there will be no followers!

How important do you think local knowledge will be? Also, do you expect most visiting teams to arrive early and acclimatize to conditions?

There is a fairly strong entry list of first timers for the pre-Worlds Regatta the weekend prior to Worlds and they are here to learn the bay. It's not a tough bay when the winds are east-southeast and our tides are pretty mild but it does pay to read the tide charts and understand the flow.

We host so many One Design regattas on Biscayne Bay that many of the visiting sailors—both foreign and domestic—have sailed here before and have some knowledge ahead of arriving.

How stiff do you think competition levels will be at this year’s regatta? Also, how do you think this competition would stack up to the J/24 Worlds Worlds fleets from 10 years ago? Or, in other words, is the class as competitive now as it was “back in the day”?

We will be celebrating 41 years of J/24 Worlds Championships ... pretty impressive! And with a fleet of 85 boats which says a lot about the class!

We have most of the Worlds champions from the last ten years entered which alone will make the top ten spots very interesting to watch. I have also been approached by some of today's hottest sailors (i.e. SailGP, Olympians, etc.) on how to enter without qualifying.

It is still a very hotly contested class with the sport's best sailors coming from this platform.

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?

Hard to say as I do not know the International boats well enough to qualify them. No dark horses as I'm not a betting man but the list of expected top 10 boats is strong - Will Welles and Rossi Milev at the head of the pack. Mike Ingham, John Mollicone and Travis Odenbach will certainly be in the mix. Mauricio Santa Cruz is another past champion to watch.

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

Bring their waterproof suntan lotion - it's our most used 'foul-weather' gear!

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

All the partners we chose to work with us on this event are making efforts to keep a low environmental footprint. We will only be using recyclable cups, plates, cutlery for catering and bar. The use of straws will not be allowed (Bacardi for example will only be using bamboo stirrers for their drinks).

We have also partnered with Harken Derm who will be distributing multiple-use aluminum straws to all the competitors...and gifting their new sunscreen products, which are ocean friendly to everybody!

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

[Our] opening Ceremony is [being] sponsored by the J/24 Class and J/Boats celebrating 41 years of Worlds Championships on the boat that put J/Boats where they are today! [We’re] looking forward to a great week of racing and camaraderie amongst the world's [best] J/24 sailors!

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