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US J/24 Midwinter Championship coming to Melbourne, Florida

by Whitney Waite 21 Feb 2023 07:19 PST
Taken at the 2022 J/24 District 10 Championship, January 22, 2023, Melbourne, Florida. “Boats on the starting line in big breeze.” © Rob Downey

Welcome to Melbourne, J/24 sailors! The J/24 Midwinter Championship, an annual "must-sail" race for most of Florida's competitive teams in this class, is expecting to see close to thirty boats and 150 top-notch sailors on the starting line, come Friday morning. The three-day regatta will likely include ten individual races at a course set north of Eau Gallie Boulevard on the Indian River Lagoon. The Midwinter Championship rotates between Miami, Tampa and Melbourne and comes here only once every three years.

This year, more than one-half of the fleet is travelling in from outside of the state, with many boats coming from as far away as New York, New England, California, and the Midwest.

"We're really pleased to be hosting a great spectrum of boats from all over," said Peter Fischel, Race Chairman and local Fleet 87 Captain. "Some of the best sailors in the country will be here and it's gearing up to be a very competitive, and very fun, regatta."

The Midwinter Championship had its start in 1978, a year after the J/24 was first brought to market.

"The J/24 was a showstopper racing boat," said Fischel. "There is still no other class like it in the sailing world today. It's competitive, physical, and racing it is like playing a game of chess on the water."

According to Principal Race Officer Pat Lambert, who is overseeing the on-water part of this regatta for the third time, flawless execution of the race is the most important thing. "The race committee has been planning the regatta for months. Safety always comes first, but there are so many factors that go into the setting of the course and management of the rules, that it takes a great team to execute it. I'm really proud to have that team in place. We can't wait to release the boats on Friday and get after it!"

The regatta depends on more than forty local volunteers, including twenty who are dedicated to race committee functions.

According to the event organizers, local business support for the race is also strong and has attracted important sponsorships from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, & Audi of Melbourne, Relentless PEG, Long Doggers, Century Express, The 5 Ws Writing & PR Service, and Little Fisch Farms.

The regatta is being organized by Eau Gallie Yacht Club, Melbourne Yacht Club, and the U.S. J/24 Class Association.

"We expect to see some hard-fought racing this weekend," said Rick Jarchow, J/24 District 10 Governor and winning skipper of last month's District Championship in Melbourne. "Melbourne offers some of the best sailing in the world. It's a true gem. We're all ready to get out there and fight for that Midwinter Championship title."

Weather dependent, spectators can watch the races by boat on Friday and Saturday, February 24th and 25th, from 11 am to 4 pm and on Sunday, February 26th, from 11 am to 1 pm.

More information about the race can be found at 2023 J/24 Midwinter Championship: Eau Gallie Yacht Club (regattanetwork.com).

The Midwinter Championship is a qualifying race for the J/24 2023 World Championship to be held in Thessaloniki, Greece, in September 2023.

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