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North Sails NEWS

October 18, 2018

J/109 North Americans Interview

Growth Spurt Wins the Corinthian Title and Second Overall

Larchmont Yacht Club hosted the 2018 J/109 North Americans with twenty teams in attendance. We caught up with John Greifzu, owner-driver of Growth Spurt winner of the Corinthian title and finished second overall.

John, congratulations on a great event! A pretty windy regatta. Any lessons in trim or technique from what you were accustomed to doing upwind? Downwind?

No kidding. With the big breeze, we kept our starts simple and talked a lot about our maneuvers to minimize potential surprises. Upwind, once we were able to achieve the right amount of twist in the sails, we found the speed we needed. Downwind, it was about sailing low and staying in control. Crew weight placement became even more important.

What kind of rig tensions were you setting up for the breeze on Friday?

Friday was our best day. The North tuning guide was a great start for rig tension. But when we tried going upwind, we realized the rig needed to be tighter. We put additional turns on the cap shrouds and D1s until the helm was balanced. The first upwind leg for each of Friday’s three races was really the key to making gains on the day. We were going fast-forward while other boats were going sideways, as they were overpowered and not flat.

The first top mark looked like a traffic jam most races. How did you manage to escape?

We approached the windward mark with a plan, and picked our spots to be aggressive. After giving away a podium spot at the American YC Fall Regatta with one bad decision at a windward mark, we were determined not to do that again.

We saw some boats using Tackline Drops, others preferring Jibe Drops and Weather Drops, and a couple using Strings. What was your preferred spinnaker drop? Any lessons to share from that?

We did not favor any certain spinnaker drop technique. We practiced them all going into the regatta, so our tactical options were always open. To be honest, with that many good boats on the course, we didn’t know what kind of takedown would be needed until we were close to the leeward gate.

Which sails did you use? How were you feeling with the new HAi-7 jib from North?

Our main was a North 3Di RAW from 2017. Going into the regatta it had 26 race days on it, and was still fast. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we used the new HAi-7 jib. It worked well in as little as 9-knots TWS and up through the range of gusts we saw on Friday. On Sunday, we used a 3DL AP jib from 2017 and that powered us in the lighter stuff. We also used the new A2-3 spinnaker for most races.

“Growth Spurt in about 20 knots of wind with the top of the main inverted, the bottom of the main working, and an appropriate angle of heel. An example of fast trim in heavy air ”, said North U expert Bill Gladstone.

Who sailed with you? How did the team prepare for the NAs?

We had an amazing group of Corinthian sailors who have put in a lot of time on the boat. Our official tune up was the American YC Fall Series, but I have logged a lot of miles with this team. Two of the guys, Richard Born and Joe Quick, I have been sailing with since our days at Tulane in the early 2000s. Rich trimmed jib and Joe handled pit on Thursday. The other crew members joined our program at various times since I bought the boat for the 2016 season.

Michelle Miltenberger was amazing on mast and bow assist, and Chris Mangieri, who I met on another J/109, was all over the boat helping with jib and spinnaker trim. Malcolm Kriegel, a recent Tulane alum from New York, has been sailing with us for three years and he trimmed spinnaker. I met our bowman, John Hughes, when he was assigned to my boat for the Storm Trysail Foundation Intercollegiate Regatta a couple years ago.

Ellen Quinn started racing with us last year and even moved work flights around to make it in time to run pit Friday through Sunday. Jon Singsen started sailing with us this year. He trimmed main and called great tactics.

Congratulations Team Growth Spurt

What’s next for Growth Spurt?

This NA’s was our last event for the season, but we’re already talking about 2019! The initial schedule will have Block Island Race Week, the J/109 North Americans in New Bedford, and other one design events in Newport and Long Island Sound. Placing second and winning the Corinthian North American Championship was great, but we’re looking forward to mixing it up again with our friends on Loki (three-time North American champion).


© Howie McMichael