When Charlie Stoddard made his bid to have the Barrington Yacht Club host the 2013 J/30 North American Championship Regatta, he made promises he knew he could live up to. To encourage J/30 sailing yacht owners from across the United States to come to Barrington, he promised a course that was challenging, with affordably elegant post-race social activities, and the quaint, cultural atmosphere offered by the East Bay.
On the weekend of July 25 to 28, the 2013 J/30 North American Championship Regatta lived up to its promise.
“The North American regatta is the big one for us,” Mr. Stoddard said.
As a competitor and regatta chairman, Mr. Stoddard appeared at ease aboard his J/30, Falcon, on Saturday morning. The sunny skies and light wind was a stark contrast to Friday’s rain soaked conditions in wind upwards of 15 knots.
Throughout the day, the J/30s jockeyed for clear air, tacking north with many touching a gunwale into the choppy seas. Once rounding the marker, crews quickly unfurled the colorful spinnakers that billowed full of air for the southerly leg of the 1.5-mile course.
In strong wind, Mr. Stoddard said he was happy to have BYC member Ron Hopkins as this year’s race officer. Throughout Friday’s races, Mr. Hopkins orchestrated the repositioning of starting buoys for each of Friday’s three races, subject to wind changes. To ensure fairness, the starting line must be “square to the wind,” Mr. Stoddard explained, “making (racing success) a matter of skill rather than luck.”
After Falcon finished Friday’s three races with a first-, second- and 11th-place finishes, Mr. Stoddard said the weather conditions took its toll on the sailors.
“We were tired. Today we’re running on strength and emotion. Tomorrow we’ll be running on emotion — the strength will be gone,” Mr. Stoddard said.
Saturday’s more moderate winds had crews adjusting for the conditions, using larger jib sails and spinnakers to capture more of the lesser wind. Four races made up Saturday’s regatta.
Only one race was run on Sunday due to a lack of wind on Narragansett Bay.
“We sat around on the water waiting for wind,” said Bill Kneller of Portsmouth.
His vessel, Rhapsody, finished in the middle of the field as he expected it would.
“The first day we made some stupid errors,” said Mr. Kneller. “Saturday was our best day. The conditions were good for us.”
Rhapsody took two fourth-place finishes on Saturday and ninth place overall.
Finishing fourth overall was Wicked, a BYC boat owned by Clare McMillan of Barrington.
After a couple of mediocre finishes on Friday, Ms. McMillan and crew were among the days’ top finishers on Saturday and Sunday.
“Friday was a shakedown day for us,” Ms. McMillan said. “We spent the day starting behind the pack. Saturday was much easier for us. There was plenty of wind, but not too much.”
Boats took a beating
Besides taking a toll on the sailors, Friday’s winds also wreaked havoc on the vessels. Although the owners and crew keep their yachts meticulously maintained, the youngest vessel in the fleet is 27 years old, having stopped production in 1986. Barrington’s Patrick Kelty’s 1979 J/30, Keltyk Knot, was the second oldest entered in the championship regatta. And the wind took its toll.
“It was probably the heaviest wind we’ve sailed in,” said Mr. Kelty, a BYC member. We lost a window and a forestay.”
With an estimated 500 J/30 boats remaining worldwide, the one-design race is an opportunity for the owners to measure their sailing skills with the vessels being largely the same.
“It’s all about concentration, sailing and driving the boat,” Mr. Stoddard said.
Matthew Asaro, sailing among the crew of Keltyk Knot, summed up the racing atmosphere.
“It’s friendly in the club. On the race course it’s deadly serious,” he said.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s race, the Barrington Yacht Club, the J/30 Class Association, and J/30 Southern New England District (Fleet 13) was represented by David Materne who presented the winners in various categories with the coveted trophies — a mounted half-hull.
After overseeing the race results, Mr. Hopkins said that the finishers illustrate the level of sailing in the competition.
“The top six boats finished within 15 points of each other,” he noted. “That shows the level of competiveness and competence.”
Although not among the top finishers, John Howell of Warwick sailing Good News was presented with the sportsmanship award.
John Dennerlein of Raritan, N.J., sailing Presto, received special recognition with the extra effort award. This was the first time the boat and crew had sailed after the vessel sustained extensive damage during superstorm Sandy.
2013 North American J/30 Championship results
1st Blue Meanie, Steve Buzbee Highland Park, NJ Raritan YC
2nd Evelyn, Luke Buxton, Rowley, Mass.
3rd Falcon, Charles Stoddard, RI Barrington YC
4th Wicked, Clare McMillan, Barrington, RI, Barrington YC
5th Fat City, Carl Sherter, Waterbury, Conn., Cedar Point YC
6th Jeroboam, Ken Deyett, Chester, NH, Kittery Point YC
7th Margay, Jon Burt, Hingham, Mass, Hull YC
8th Blitz, Kevin Dakan, Warwick, RI, Apponaug Cove
9th Rhapsody, Bill Kneller, Portsmouth, RI Coasters Harbor Navy YC
10th Nemesis, Mark Rotsky, Somerset, Mass. Bristol YC
11th Excalibur, Charles Hurd, New York, NY, City Island YC
12th Wildcat, Russ Atkinson, Rockwood, Mich. North Cape YC
13th Magan, Jim and Chris Buydos, Old Lyme, Conn., Branford YC
14th Keltyk Knot, Patrick Kelty, Barrington, RI Barrington YC
15th No Quarter Given, Mark Thornhill, New Bedford, Mass., Mattapoisett YC
16th Mmmmm, Bob Rude, Bristol, RI, Bristol YC
17th Presto, John Dennerlein, Westfield, NJ Raritan YC
18th Rocket J, Randy Boyles, Advance, NC, Pamlico Sailing Club
19th Good News, John Howell, Warwick, RI, Narragansett Terrace YC