Cold, Wet…

from the course

Cold, Wet…

Moose McClintock from Dimension/Polyant is getting ready for the J/24 Worlds. Or is he?

Well, today was the practice race for the Worlds, all 80 of us out there in freezing cold (well not freezing, but pretty darn cold) with a steady rain but a pretty pleasant 8-12 knots with an upwind current.  Of course, with the upwind current and a bunch of over anxious egos, there were probably 5 boats behind the line at the first start, one general recall.  Then the PRO says over the radio "You didn’t do such a good job but since this is a practice race we’re going to let you go on the next start, we’ll call numbers but I doubt you’ll come back."  Not a lot of incentive to start correctly, they called at least 20 boats over (which of course had "0" restarts).  Not sure this is the precedent you want to start on the first day of a World Championship but it’s not my call so what the heck, go for it. We tried to start somewhere near the the line at the heavily favored leeward end which meant a 5th row start, after a couple dips we were at least headed the right direction and for whatever reason were around 6th at the weather mark.  The Swedish team were pretty close with American Charlie Enright, they went on to win the race (most of the top ten dropped out at some point over the next couple legs) but for the most part everyone got a chance to stretch their legs and see how they went with their Pen/Twaron/Technora genoas (your choice).  For what it’s worth, the first two boats had Technora genoas.

So much for the race, this was just the culmination of 3 days of intensive measuring, with two boats found to have lead shot epoxied into their keel sumps (older American boats) and a lot of people having to make fairly minor changes to a multitude of minor infractions.  Though it’s a major pain in the ass, the J-24 Worlds is excellent for getting a pile of boats measured to very strict rules that make the boats as close in performance as they’re going to be for a large regatta, one of the things I’ve always liked about going to the Worlds.  With a forecast of fairly light winds, and LOTS of rain, we’re not sure this will be the most fun Worlds ever but with the overall speeds very close amongst the leaders, it will really be the sharpest group that does the best.  Hopefully, we’ll be a little sharper than the bowling ball we’ve been to date.  It was impressive to see the Swedish team dust everyone, Anthony Kotoun was very quick, as was Enright, locals Tony Parker and Mark Hillman, while former champion Mauricio Santa Cruz was running in the top 5 all the way around as well as a couple Argentines who look to have a good handle on everything speed wise.  There are plenty of people with the speed to do the deal, right now I have to watch and see who the real favorites are, having been out of the class for a while I don’t know who’s who but no one seems slow.  At this point watch out for everyone, it probably won’t be until Wednesday before we see a firm set of contenders (providing we get racing in, it’s supposed to be very light til Thursday but at least it’s supposed to rain every day).  Til tomorrow, from soaking wet Annapolis.