When we concluded the 2015 districts last year the general chatter was, “where are we going to hold the event next year?” Rick Graef, Dean Reidy, and I sailed the Bay Week regatta that same year in the J/24 and kicked around the idea of holding the Districts in conjunction with ILYA Bay Week. At first it seemed like a pipe dream, but then some key players caught wind of it and made it a reality. A big thank you is in order to Marcus Rogers for rounding up the troops to make the Districts a success and a regatta to remember for years to come.
The extended weekend of racing J/24s started on Wednesday when boats arrived in Sandusky from Indianapolis and Detroit to set-up for the trip over to Put-In-Bay. As boats arrived, Nick Turney and I provided assistance rigging and tuning boats for the weekend. Nick helped several teams create a “tuning matrix” specific to their boat; meant for deviating from a base setting without using a loose gauge. Thanks Nick! Dean Riedy and his team assisted in launching boats with the hoist, which was a great help. Thanks Dean! As soon as boats were launched we had a quick race briefing then teams casted off for what turned out to be a gorgeous sail for Sandusky Sailing Club’s Wednesday night race. SSC’s race committee was generous enough to give us our own one design start for the five leg race that finished with a beautiful sunset on Sandusky Bay. As teams were racing, Nick Turney with Turney Sailing Services, followed behind taking pictures and video of the race. After racing, everyone enjoyed burgers and beers provided by SSC, while Nick shared the photos he took and offered input on sail trim and boat set-up. Thank you to Sandusky Sailing Club, Quantum Sails Sandusky, and Turney Sailing Services for an excellent evening of sailing.
Thursday was a day for preparation and transport to South Bass Island. Dean Riedy and Kevin O’Brien sailed the Deepwater Race while other teams sailed at their leisure over to the Bay. We rafted the boats on “A” dock in the city marina and set up camp for the weekend.
Friday was race day 1 for the J/24 District Championship and teams got on the water early to practice. We were greeted with a fresh breeze and sunshine for the beginning of the day to knock out two great windward/leeward races. The race committee started a third “round the islands race” which was later abandoned due to a rather large storm that sent teams for a wild ride. Everyone made it back to the harbor safely and tied up for the night. Teams then enjoyed the island for the night, whether it was bar hopping on the strip or enjoying peace and quiet in the mooring field.
On Saturday we left the dock as scheduled and sailed in very tricky conditions for the day. The storm from the previous day left the lake choppy with light breeze. Despite the conditions, the race committee completed a “round the islands race” for race 3 and a windward leeward race for race 4.
On Sunday we entered the lake in a solid 15-20kts breeze with medium seas. The race committee set a course and got one race off before abandoning for the day because the weather mark would not stay set. All of the boats enjoyed a nice sail back to the island where we packed up and got ready for the awards. In 3rd place was Dean Riedy and team HALL PASS, in 2nd place was John Shockey and team HARDEN FAST, and in 1st place was Kevin O’Brien and team FUGUE STATE. Congratulations to all teams for a great regatta!
It should be recognized that many of the teams this year consisted of young sailors, with team QUIXOTIC taking the cake. The QUIXOTIC crew had 4 members all under the age of 19, including the skipper, Cameron Douglas. Also, Team HARDEN FAST consisted of 4 members under the age of 30. Along with these two teams, others had young guns peppered throughout. It is fantastic and healthy for the fleet to see young people getting excited about racing J/24s. Keep up the good work!
A big thank you goes out to the Inter-Lake Yachting Association for organizing Bay Week and for integrating the J/24s into the fleet, the ILYA Race Committee for their hard work, Quantum Sails Sandusky for support at the regatta, Turney Sailing Services for pre-regatta tuning, Sandusky Sailing Club for the practice race, Team HALL PASS for help with launch and recovery in Sandusky and most importantly the competitors on DUTCH MOB, HALL PASS, HARDEN FAST, ORANGE WHIP, FUGUE STATE, QUIXOTIC, DON’T PANIC, MOSH PIT, and ZIG ZAG for making the 2016 J/24 Districts a truly memorable experience.