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How Client Stephen Jones Won The 2018 Shark Worlds
Stephen shares how he and his crew, comprised of North Sails expert Geoff Moore and Breck McFarlane, took home the 2018 Shark World Championships in Kingston this past August.
While the crew had minimal amount of training together before the Worlds, the crew was able to come together in tough conditions and sail smart. That said, the crew did do a lot boat prep work and preventative maintenance to the boat before the event started after they arrived in Kingston. Included in this was time spent mast tuning, specifically individual shroud tuning matrix, which Moore says contributed to their success. The maintenance continued throughout the event, each day before and after racing; allowing them to ensure the boat, the rig and the sails were in the best condition for racing.
Tell us about how the journey to the Worlds and what steps you took to ensure success?
I got to Worlds because my brother said, “I can’t make it, but you can take the boat if you want.” He started a new job, and he didn’t have any vacation time. So I said, “Okay, great!” and I immediately contacted Geoff and I said, “Geoff, do you want to do the Worlds?” And he said, “Sure, I’m in.” Then we recruited Breck McFarlane who has also done lots of different Shark events with us. And I’ve raced with him on J/22s and he raced on my J/22s.
How were the conditions in Kingston? Usually it can either be raging winds or light air.
It blew hard all week. Moderate on the last day, but we were on the jib for, I think, the first four days. The distance race, the squall came through where, reportedly, the Kingston Yacht Club’s weather station reported 37 knots. For the first six races we had nothing worse than a three, so we were looking pretty good. Then we won the distance race, more just by keeping our heads together in the squall, and then for Friday, the last day of the event, we just kind of lifted the foot off the pedal a bit. I think we had a 6 and an 11, then we dropped the 11. It was an 11 and then a 6.
Tell us about the squall and the distance race more.
We actually changed from the Blade to the Genoa, that kind of moderated halfway through the race, and then we dropped to the low mark and we went back to Genoa, cause that’s what was hinked up, the squall came through and it jumped from 18 to 38 knots. Boats were wiping out all around us. One guy went bare-headed and one guy dropped main and jib just to ride out this storm. Meanwhile Geoff was able to keep the boat going, keep the boat upright. And he told me to do something that I would not have done; he said, “Let the jib out.” I said, “Okay, are you sure?
He says, “Yeah!” and then he said, “Let it out more, more.” Like, I let it out a meter, a meter and a half. I just thought, “That can’t be right.” But we ended up actually still making progress upwind, where everyone else was basically just being bumped backwards, or sideways. we went from 8th or 9th in that race to winning it.
North Sails expert Geoff Moore recalls the distance race was 4.5 hours and required the team to switch from little jib to big jib upwind (bare handed). Moore said “When the squall came thru most people left jibs over trimmed so they couldn’t fly their mains. We let out the main then eased the genoa so we could fly both sails at the same time.” In addition to expert boat handling in the windy conditions, Moore also doubled up on battens in the mainsail to allow for better control, going so far as to “hand stitch [the] battens into [the] pocket.”
How would you say the sails have contributed or have they contributed to your success over the years, especially at the Worlds?
We’ve always been loyal with North and I just think that the Shark sails won’t let you down, they’re known commodities, there’s nothing radical about them. I had North on my Shark, well, I had actually a mixed inventory, but I came 2nd in the ’06 Worlds, which is a very light air event. It’s like how back in the day they’d used to say that no one would get fired for choosing IBM. You’re not going to go wrong choosing North.
Moore shares how “Our jib fit the boat beautifully” and the conditions required them to trim their sails perfectly throughout racing.
For more information on our Shark products and how you can win the next Worlds, check out our inventory and contact your local experts today!