Best Seats in the House

Woof in the lead: Bow Wow!

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Last weekend I had the good fun to sail with the Brothers Whittier on Woof for our 2013 J/24 District 20 Regional Championships. From our relaxed position of 5th in the fleet, we had an excellent vantage point to watch the tight racing between three very talented boats, TMC Racing, Shut up and Drive and Downtown Uproar. We were also delighted to have Skipper’s Gift out, and felt that if the courses were maybe a mile or three longer, we might’ve been able to catch them, but we simply suffered from a ghost who kept shoving random lines into odd places.
TMC Racing managed to lock in a 7 point series, but they had to work for every bit of it. On the first day we had our heads in our own boat trying to control our sails in the far higher than expected winds and waves. But on Sunday, we choose to sit back and appreciate the spectacle of three boat match racing, with a tight competition for 2nd and 3rd place. During the weekend we saw perfectly executed lee bows, elegant ducks, tight roundings, and TMC’s boat was moving so fast that I was looking for foils. All of this without a single protest. Our District 20s are known for the wind, food and wine. What more can a skipper want? After waging battle with August breezes in the Bay, we come back to Berkeley Yacht Club to recount our adventures over heaping plates of Lulu Yang’s paella, steamed shrimp, outstanding wines from Berryessa Gap. The J/24 fleet just couldn’t be a nicer group of people to hang out with.
We just need more boats to balance this racing out. There are many J/24s getting soft while sitting on the hard. I spotted a letter to the editor in July’s Latitude38 inquiring after active local SF One Design fleets that were affordable to sail and under 25 feet. Sadly the J/24 was not listed in their response.
Our fleet is aging, both the boats and our skippers, although both are still quite fiesty. As a result, many of our races are not getting the same turn-out they did. Between rig replacements and hip replacements, we are going through a bit of a participation lull. I often hear skippers saying they don’t have enough crew. But we’ve got a great group of candidate crew – mostly hardy Michigan transplants – looking for copacetic drivers who are interested in racing regularly and willing to coach them. And we have a great group of “core” sailors who are willing to help with the training of your new crew. Further, the J/24 has an international regatta scene that can’t be beat. While we’ve traveled as far as Halifax and Buenos Aires for regattas, nothing beats the Copa Mexico in Banderas Bay, which in March 2014 is the North American Championships too.
We’re brainstorming a regatta this fall that is intended to be fun, friendly, and create opportunities for those boats not currently racing to come out. Boat owners: We’re sitting here trying to guess why you aren’t coming out and trying to come up with ideas to woo you back. We miss you. So if there is some way that we can make easing back into one design racing more doable for you, let us know. Crew Candidates: If you are interested in getting some experience on a ‘real’ sailboat doing one design racing with some super nice people, give the fleet leadership a shout.
Melissa Litwicke – District 20, Fleet 17 Captain mlis at monkey.org
Jasper Van Vliet – Western Regional G’vnor. Jaspervvliet at gmail.com

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