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Story Contributors: Nigel Young
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2018 J/80 Worlds

First-takes From A New Team

Nigel Young, from North Sails in Ireland recently competed in Les Sables d’Olonne, France for the 2018 J/80 World Championship. Competing with a new team, there was much to learn as they sailed together throughout the week. We caught up with Nigel after the regatta to get his insights being a new team taking on some of the best J/80 sailors in the World. Here is what he had to say about their experience.

The J/80 fleet in Europe is highly competitive. With the size of this latest event, the strength of the fleet is noticeable. In Les Sables, the downwind legs of the races were a bit tricky, as they set the course so competitors would have more of a close reach to the left gate. The finish was also tough because of this as it forced each boat to have a tight rounding at the top of the mark with an immediate jibe to port to make the favored end of the finish line. It’s very hard to catch up or pass any boats when the course is set like this.

My team used North Sails T-6R mainsail, the BTY-15  and APi-1 3Di RAW jib and the MR-5 spinnaker. We noticed great speed throughout the event, and even won a race in the middle of the week which was definitely our team highlight. A few other teams used 3Di jibs too, and they were notably fast. The product is very durable and stable for the J/80, and teams that are using it can see its benefits.”

Pat O’Neil, skipper and owner, has only been competing in the J/80 class for about 15 months now, which made this experience at the Worlds very beneficial for him.

Nigel really enjoys competing in the class because the J/80 is enjoyable and the fleet is competitive. He’s competed in two World Championships prior to this one, with a little bit of local fleet racing in between. His normal suit is a Melges 24, and he explained how the J/80 is a “toned-down” version of that.

“The J/80 the mast is made of alloy and the boat is a bit heavier, but again this is a great class to be involved in and there is always something to learn or improve. They typically race us at some nice venues too, so no complaints there!”, said Nigel.


The best part of racing last week was surfing downwind in 25 knots. It was very exciting! Everyday it was very warm and sunny, which allowed the thermal to fill in -in the afternoon giving us perfect sailing conditions.

With Patrick O’Neil at the helm, their tactician/jib trimmer was Ryan Glynn, and Gareth Kyne did bow and helped with strategy. Nigel focused on rig set up and tuning, sail trim, main trim, and spinnaker trim.

Three things to know about the J/80 that will allow you to be competitive from Nigel Young:

  1. Rig set-up must be spot on.
  2. Max crew weight is very crucial.
  3. The backstay is very important to constantly be playing, especially in building pressure.

“Competing in a World Championship in this class is a great experience. It is truly the best way to test your speed and set up. You’ll know very quickly if you are fast or not. Sailors that compete in this class are very talented, and if you can keep up with them, you are testing your skills at the highest level.”

This event was very challenging for the new team. There was a lot to say about the regatta organization in Les Sables, which was beyond first class. The race officer was one of the best Nigel said he’s ever had the pleasure of racing with. The teams from France and Spain were very competitive and quite good. Nigel concluded; “It was very hard to do well in this class, consistently. We look forward to our next chance to race against the best and improve as a team.”

For more information on our J/80 products, contact your local expert today.

North Sails J/80 Tuning Guide

Story Contributors

J/80 Worlds headshot
Nigel Young

Myrtleville, Ireland

Nigel started Sailmaking in 1981 in Cowes on the IOW. In 1990, he ran HOOD Sails OD production in Lymington. In 1995, he joined North Sails, as part of the North-Diamond Sails merger. Nigel ran North Sails OD in the...

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