Thirty six J/Boats hit the water to ring in the area’s inaugural J/Fest regatta.
Sponsored by North Sails and hosted by Bristol Yacht Club, the inaugural J/Fest New England kicked off Friday, August 12th with afternoon practice led by North Sails Offshore One Design, followed by a local knowledge weather briefing at the club.
Working with the J/105, J/109 and J/88 classes, North Sails experts Chuck Allen, Bill Gladstone and Jack Orr helped teams tune up and stretch their legs in 12-15 knot southerly winds. Heading in a little early due to incoming weather, sailors were met with a local knowledge briefing by North Sails experts Charlie Enright and North Sails President, Ken Read. A review of local weather trends including current, obstacles and wind direction was complemented by burgers and an open bar, all sponsored by North Sails.
“If it weren’t for the rise of J/Boat racing, I would still be in Bristol Harbor sailing Mercuries,” said Read, a multi-world champion in the J/24, acknowledging the impact of J/Boats on competitive One Design racing throughout North America.
Saturday brought the first races to fruition slowly, with a wind delay at the club and on the water. In the 90 degree heat and humidity forecast, soon more sailors were swimming than waiting patiently aboard. Nevertheless, the sea breeze filled mid-afternoon and the race committee squeezed in two quality races in a fairly stable southerly at 12 knots and ebb tide. Early on, boats starting off the pin end who worked the left shoreline fared well before the wind began to shift slightly right toward the end of the day.
Sunday brought a light southerly gradient breeze. Hopes for a bolstering seabreeze were eventually burned off with the high heat, and pressure was generally up and down with big oscillations. Three to four races were completed by all fleets.
North Sails sponsored three awards for the event which were presented by NA Sales Manager, Kimo Worthington, who sailed onboard J/109 Vento Solare for the event. The North Sails Overall award was presented to Ted Hearlihy’s J/109 Gut Feeling, the Sportsmanship award was presented to Brooke Mastrorio on J/109 Ursa, and most improved went to Kevin Dakan on J/110 Memory.
Looking back on the long weekend, local North expert Charlie Enright commented that J/Fest New England is “a great event with a bright future. It’s wonderful to see a new regatta surrounded by such enthusiasm. Events like J/Fest will strengthen local classes both on the water and off.”