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Posts Tagged ‘J/70’

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We thought we were going to be focusing on the Etchells Worlds IJ granting the Event Chairman redress for two different UFD scores, but as we were writing that one up, something way better came up for our monthly look at protests and sailors behaving badly.  And it’s a hell of a story.

Julian Fernandez Neckelmann dominated the J/70 Worlds last year with his Flojito and has continued in other big events, and with two of the winningest one-design pros of the past decade as his crew and Ed Adams coaching, Julian ain’t playin’ – he’s in this one for real. But after six races at St. Franny’s Big Boat Series, a much lower-budget team – Joel Ronning’s Catapult - sat tied with Neckelmann in the same water they’ll be racing next week at Worlds.

That’s when Neckelmann – a lawyer, we think – decided he needed to find out more about the stainless hoop you see above in Ronning’s cockpit.  We were told by several people he asked them about it, and several told him they thought it was legal, and even suggested against protesting it.  When Neckelmann saw Catapult tactician John Kostecki on the dock, Neckelmann told him he didn’t think the roll bar was kosher, and Kostecki, ever the communicator, said ‘Protest me.”  Neckelmann did exactly that, and that’s where it gets good.

The Jury asked why Catapult had a non-OEM part on the boat, and Joel calmly explained that bar was installed to assist him from moving from side to side during tacks and gybes.  He also explained that the J/70 rules allow installation of such a device for people with physical disabilities, and that both the plans and photos of the finished part had been signed off by the J/70 Technical Committee and Adminstrator as required by the Class Rules.

At this point, our sources differ on what exactly happened, but a credible one has Neckelmann next asking Ronning, “How disabled are you that you need this bar?”

Ronning then reaches down, unstraps a buckle, pulls his carbon-fiber prosthetic leg off, and slams it on the table in front of god and everyone, shouting “Is this disabled enough for you?”

A differing account says Neckelmann asked why he wasn’t allowed to have the same bar installed on his boat.   Ronning pulled off the leg and slammed it on the table, telling Neckelmann to “Saw off one of your legs and you’ve got it.”

Regardless of which version is true, the whole thing is pretty ridiculous, and sends an awful message to disabled sailors in open classes: Fuck you and your problem.  We certainly know the history that makes top J/70 teams so nervous about cheaters, but handling a protest poorly risks not only pissing off your fleet, but it can earn you new enemies you can’t afford on the course.

We note that Neckelmann has always been a straight talker with us, and was always ethical when we’ve spectated or raced against him.  He told us in an email that he never knew Ronning had any disability until that protest hearing, let alone a carbon-fiber leg; this isn’t that far-fetched given that Ronning is proud of the fact that so few people can tell he has an artificial leg.   Still, we struggle with it, because Neckelmann poached his pros director from the Catapult team.  Bill Hardesty and Willem Van Waay both worked for Ronning on his A-Scow and J/70 for some time and they knew him well;  if Bill and Creature let their boss protest an amputee without telling him about it – well, that’s a great story too. (And speaking of stories, we are hearing about Hardesty’s questionable behavior at Mission Bay Yacht Club a few weeks ago. – ed)

We don’t think Neckelmann is some kind of anti-disabled sailing nutbag, but he’s a fierce competitor, and as he wrote us yesterday, “Some people in good faith and others in bad faith are playing with modifications.  If these moves are legal we want to do them, if they are not, we want nobody else to do them.”  That’s fair.  But protesting a heavy metal bar in a bad place when people told you it was legal…it’s your right, but it’s stupid.

The reality is that Neckelmann’s protest was probably a shot across Ronning’s bow and an attempt to get into the head of a team that can clearly challenge for the world title – a team that already has plenty of bad blood with the reigning world champion.  Top pros play head games because sometimes, they work.  But this one seems to have backfired, and Neckelmann and Hardesty haven’t made any friends with their move; many think they also made their class and the BBS look like shit.

One other thing it did?  It made us pretty excited to watch how steamy this rivalry gets next week in the Berkley Circle.  Nothing fires up interest like a battle before the war.  You can read a full Worlds Preview at the J/70 Facebook Page here.


September 22nd, 2016 by admin

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screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-47-19-pmOur Sailor Chick of the Week is skipper Claudia Rosi, who picked up a 2nd place at the finale to the Alcatel J/70 Italian series this past weekend after  dominating the 97-boat J/70 Euros earlier this summer.

Rosi is barely old enough to drink in the USA, where she’ll try to make history when the Worlds begins in two weeks time.  And we wish her luck!


September 13th, 2016 by admin

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Big Pimpin’

Check out the video from the 3rd event of Italy’s Alcatel J/70 Cup for a slightly long but beautifully produced story of sportboat racing in Sardinia.  More from our old friend and Italian J/70 Class Prez Vittorio:

Quite frankly, we had a truly fantastic week-end with great racing conditions, outstanding hospitality by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (with a social event every night!), and lots of beachside fun for our accompanying friends and families. It was probably the best event organised by the J/70 ITALIAN CLASS so far (results here).

The week-end was also a live test for next year’s J/70 Worlds (Sept 12-16, 2017). We are already working to prepare another great event for you (all of the above plus simplified logistics, group discounts on ferry boat transportation, hotels, food and entertainment). We will present the full program of next year’s event during the Italian Night that we plan to host at the St. Francis Yacht Club in September during the 2016 J/70 Worlds in San Francisco. You are already invited to participate!

We are confident to have all the ingredients to host a great event next year which will be key in further growing the J/70 Class in the Med. CAN’T MISS PORTO CERVO 2017 !


June 16th, 2016 by admin

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When Sperry told us they wanted to support coverage of events we thought made a difference to the sport of sailing, we instantly thought of the J/70 Worlds.  Sure, there was a 95-boat Melges 24 Worlds two weeks ago in Denmark and a 100-boat SB20 Worlds in Lake Garda last week, but with nearly a thousand boats sold in three years, nothing comes close to the impact on racing made by the new and exploding class from the J0hnstones. And as evidenced by the 16-nation field in the boat’s second-ever Worlds in La Rochelle, the effect is spreading far, and fast.

So we put together a 6-man crew to bring live video of all the racing to you guys, and we didn’t skimp.  The live feed included commentary from SA’s Senior Editor and Adventures of a Sailor Girl’s Nic Douglass, along with daily highlight reels from Petey Crawford, and huge high-quality photo galleries from Sander Van Der Borch.  Why’d we go so big? Because we want to see more of the family-friendly, female-inclusive, youth-engaging vibe this little boat is giving to people all over the world, and the infrastructure J/boats have created to deliver well-built, good-looking, quick-ish little racers that are all damned similar to one another is something we admire.  And we felt privileged to be able to document it all.

Above you’ll find our final movie from last week’s Championship, and we really, really hope you’ll sit through it until the end.  And don’t be drinking coffee near the end.  If you laugh as much as we did, share the link with your friends. For the full interview with new World Champ Julian Fernandez, hit this link.  The full chat with Marty Kullman including the drama with North’s DNE request is in here.  You can grab any one of the dozen-plus interviews and highlight reels in our Vimeo index.

As always, huge thanks to Sperry for their support, and to J/Composites Europe for all their support on the ground and on the water.  More thanks at the end of the video.


July 17th, 2015 by admin

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Just two races remain, and it’s all live thanks to Sperry and J/Composites France.  Breeze, waves, and fireworks on the starting line.  What more could you want?


July 11th, 2015 by admin

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More black flags?  More better-than-expected breeze, anyway.  Nic and Clean with the early morning broadcast from J/70 Worlds.  Check it.


July 10th, 2015 by admin

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With every one of the 6 starts (and several general recalls) firing off under the black flag, a little bit of conservatism is going a long, long way at the J/70 Worlds.   With current WC Tim Healy dropping a BFD, Julian Fernandez is looking strong for the class’s second ever Worlds.  Sander Van Der Borch is making it look simply gorgeous; have a look at the monster jellyfish in this above/below water shot.  And look at the contrast on these spinnakers.  Or maybe you prefer some spray?

Here are the Day 2 Highlights from Penalty Box Productions.

July 10th, 2015 by admin

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We’ve sorted the various technical issues and now it’s time for some hot racing action in 720p HD from the waters of La Rochelle, and with flat water, perfect sun, and moderate breeze, it should be one to watch.  Hit up the Sailor Girl on Twitter if you’ve got questions or comments for us and enjoy the show, with three more scheduled for day 2 of the J/70 World Championship.  All thanks to Sperry, of course, with some serious help from J/Composites France and the fine folks at the

Direct link for your phones or to get the Youtube chat room functionality – over here. Facebook for up-to-the-minute pics.


July 9th, 2015 by admin

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The first day of the second-ever J/70 Worlds lit up with gorgeous sun and an unexpected 15 knots from the NW.  But when the chop stacked up with almost two knots of outgoing tide running right over the starting line, it was always going to be a bad day for some people.  We just didn’t know it was going to be bad for the SA live video team!

As anyone in sailing knows, the French do things just a little bit differently.  That’s why their food is so much better than anyone else’s – because they keep it the way they like it, and change is the enemy.  That attitude carries over to everything, and on the race course, that meant doing everything a bit differently than most of us are used to in big fleet sportboating.  While nearly every major sportboat worlds over 50 boats has run a midline boat for years, that’s not the French way, so rather than a tidy start with three different vantage points to call OCS boats, we saw the exact opposite: 5 general recalls for race 2, with two of them under black flag, and an astonishing 19 boats starting off their Worlds with a BFD, including several championship contenders.  To add insult to injury, at least one top US boat only looked on the first chalkboard for their number, and the Race Committee only called the numbers on the radio in French…at a regatta where english-speaking boats outnumber French by 3 to 1.

A late night saw no redress given for any of the 19 BFDs, which changes the nature of the regatta considerably for quite a few, but unsurprisingly, Julian Fernandes (MEX), Tim Healy (USA), and Carlo Albierini (ITA) are mixing it up for the lead after three.

Our live coverage was dotted by French internet issues, but that was nothing compared to our full electrical loss a minute into Race 3; a quick check at the inverters revealed 50 gallons of water sloshing around in the bilge, flowing in via a blow out raw water pump seal.   Our broadcast ended with no power, no stream, and a last-second anchoring practice to keep us off the beach before a two-hour tow-in from the RC.

Fortunately none of that kept Sander Van Der Borch from putting together a gorgeous gallery of the day just like his photo above (and the less gorgeous one on the left).

Watch it all unfold live today (with a bit less drama behind the lens, hopefully) over here, or check back on the front page for the embedded vid.



July 9th, 2015 by admin

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While SA’s live coverage team was fighting to stay afloat, Petey was doing what he does, and here’s the Day 1 Video Report from the J/70 Worlds.  Enjoy, and stay tuned for another full day of live coverage from LaRo – this time, hopefully without the sinking part.


July 8th, 2015 by admin

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