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Final Final team finds no end to preparation for 2024 ORC World Championship

by New York Yacht Club 25 Jan 14:52 PST
Jon Desmond - Final Final © Georgie Altham

Step 1 was building the right team. Step 2 was to find the right boat. That brings Jon Desmond and his Final Final crew to step 3, racing the heck out of it. A little over a year ago, Desmond (above) and his team purchased a Mills 41 out of Hong Kong and embarked on an ambitious schedule of races that will culminate this September with the 2024 ORC World Championship, being held in the United States for the first time in more than two decades at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, in Newport, R.I.

"My team was looking for a modern, offshore-capable boat on which we could check off some bucket list events," says Desmond, a New York Yacht Club member hailing from Cohasset, Mass. "We found a Mills 41 out of Hong Kong, and she checked all the boxes and had a great resume under her previous owner. The ORC Worlds was on the schedule early. We got the boat in the fall of 2022 and planned a Caribbean season last winter and to go to the Great Lakes last summer. The plan was always to return to Newport in 2024 to do the Bermuda Race and ORC Worlds."

Since 1969, the Offshore Racing Congress has been a world leader in providing a scientific and transparent rating system used to create fair racing among a broad variety of boat types, from sportboats to superyachts. Since 1999, ORC has organized annual ORC World Championships and other inshore and offshore racing events sanctioned by World Sailing, with recent events attracting over 100 entries from dozens of countries around the world. The 2024 ORC World Championship will be held in Newport, R.I., and hosted by the New York Yacht Club. Registration and measurement starts on September 27, with racing kicking off on Monday, September 30, and finishing on Saturday, October 5.

Click here for current entry list.

Final Final is currently in the Caribbean, where Desmond and his team will take another crack at the RORC Caribbean 600, a twisty distance race that takes competitors around 11 islands and covers all points of sail, perfect training for the ORC Worlds, which has traditionally been a mix of distance and buoy races. The 2024 edition of the ORC World Championship will start with a long offshore race of 30 to 36 hours, followed by two days of buoy races, a shorter distance race and a final day of buoy racing. Winning will require a well-rounded boat and crew, and the best way to sort out both is on the water, in the heat of competition.

"Last year we struggled to put time on our competitors on the 100-mile reaches in the Caribbean 600, so we have some new sail inventory to fill that gap for this year's race," says Desmond. "The team spent three days in Florida in early January working to dial in the new sails before she shipped to the Caribbean."

While last year's Caribbean 600 didn't go to plan, the team's other big distance race did. Desmond and crew (above, competing in the 2023 St. Thomas International Regatta) won the prestigious Mackinac Trophy division in the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac last July, beating 98 other entries.

"It was a testament that the team is continuing to learn and improve on the boat," says Desmond. "We were able to keep her moving in very light conditions the last night and may have gotten lucky carrying a bit more breeze than some of our competitors. But the team is sailing the boat a lot, working hard at small improvements, and continuously improving, which is what makes it fun."

With the Bermuda Race on the schedule for later this year, Desmond feels comfortable the team has turned over every rock in its preparation for the two distance races on the ORC World Championship schedule. But he knows that's only half the battle.

"We are cognizant that we have focused much of our time on [distance] racing," says Desmond. "We are planning a busy Newport racing schedule this summer and purposely focusing on the buoys. New York Yacht Club's Annual Regatta, Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex and the Safe Harbor Race Weekend are all events in which we are targeting on Final Final as preparation for ORC Worlds. We are also considering chartering an IC37—another Mills design—for an event or two as well. The IC37 class always leads to fun, competitive and tight racing around the buoys and seeing as the boats have many similar characteristics, should be great prep for the ORC Worlds."

The name of the boat might lead some to assume this campaign is a sort of end game. But Desmond shakes that off.

"Around some parts, Final Final refers to the last drink of the night amongst friends," he says. "Although, a Final Final usually leads to a second, even a third. The name of our previous boat was Next, which was a joke on it being the 'next' boat. So, Final Final only felt fitting for a boat, amongst friends. I'm hoping for a second and third Final Final along the way."

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