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Story Contributors: Allan Terhune


North Sails Expert Allan Terhune Shares Tips From Sailing the J/70

Allan Terhune on Building A. 📸 Chris Howell


This past weekend concluded a great Davis Island Winter Series in the J/70 class. With a variety of conditions and great hospitality from DIYC, this series has become an impressive example of how winter circuits and regattas should be run.

Equally impressive were the results of North clients: 1,2,3,5,7,9 overall and 1*,2*,4,5,7 in the Corinthian division. Congratulations to series winners Brian Keane and Peter Fiery.

Here are the top 5 lessons we took home from the regatta.

Keep the rig versatile

Before each race, I made sure my “normal” setup had the backstay at the middle of its range. Many teams set up more toward the extremes and then struggled with transitions in the puffy conditions. To me, nothing is worse in the flat water off DIYC than having a main too full to depower.

Be patient with the shifts

The easterly winds were both shifty and puffy, and it was impossible to be in phase all the time. When we were on the correct side of the shift, our goal was to go as fast as we could. If we were on the wrong side, we tried to get back in touch to attack on the next shift. It was easy to chase the breeze and continue to lose ground.

Top of the cone: be proactive

The courses were relatively short for 50 boats, so the first weather mark was very crowded. The boats that were reacting to traffic were the teams that were losing. The winners visualized what the next moves would be while keeping an open mind. It is OK to duck a boat or two if you know it will get you to an open lane or layline.

Downwind mode matters

There were times when you were planing, and times when you were not. The biggest mistake I saw was not changing modes decisively. Once the boat behind starts to plane, you have to find a way to match. Even if you aren’t in the same breeze, get off the wing and sail towards the next puff.

Keep calm and sail on

In such variable conditions, it’s very easy to get frustrated about your performance. No matter where you are on the race course or in the fleet, looking forward and being positive is key. Not panicking about your traffic or situation will make the rest of the day go that much better.

Heading to the Midwinters? We have sails in stock ready to be shipped to your door.


Peter Firey’s Phoenix, overall Series winners in the Corinthian division. 📸 Chris Howell


Brian Keane’s Savasana (right), overall winner of the 2020 Winter Series. 📸 Phill Pape

Story Contributors

J/70 Lessons From The Davis Island Winter Series headshot
Allan Terhune

One Design Expert — Annapolis, Maryland

Allan has been with North Sails since 2007 and serves as North American One Design Manager. Allan Terhune, Jr., has won 14 National and Continental Titles (in the Lightning, Flying Scot, MC Scow and Thistle Classes) and was crowned the...

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