North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Mike Marshall, Zeke Horowitz
Images © Chris Howell


Former World Champion, North-powered Chris Doyle and his team Jug 4 1 win the J/22 North Americans in Buffalo, NY

Will Harris, Chris Doyle and Adam Burns on team ‘Jug 4 1’, the 2017 NA Champions!

Thirty J/22 teams met in Buffalo, NY for the 2017 North Americans. Weather predictions had many different outlooks and it came down to the very day to know what the weather was going to bring. The practice race was cancelled due to thunderstorm activity, some teams were able to get sailing time in after the weather cleared and before the wind died off completely. North Sails Expert Mike Marshall organized a Q & A panel with the keg at arm’s reach, and  60-70 competitors asked a ton of questions that helped sailors get in the right frame of mind for racing.

Nine races were successfully completed over three days in a light to moderate breeze that built to the low teens for the final day. The chop emphasized the importance of changing gears as quickly as possible while keeping things smooth in the boat. Immediately after the start it was a race to the course left side, with little to no room for errors in tactics or boat speed.
Familiar face to the J/22 Class, Travis Odenbach, lead the debrief after the first day, with a panel of familiar faces. Previous World Champion Chris Doyle gave insights on sail trim and boat speed, along with Luke Lawrence and North Sails Expert Zeke Horowitz.

On the last day of the regatta the breeze shifted between 30-40 degrees, which made it impossible to recover from a bad decision ( some of us found that out the hard way!). The first race worked well for North Sails Expert Jeff Todd with his team Hot Toddy, moved into the lead by escaping out to the right side with amazing boat speed. After an hour delay, the second race started in very light air. Local team and previous World Champion, Chris Doyle and his team on Jug 4 1 were faster than ever and left no chance for their competitors as they were going, going, gone!

In the overall standings, consistency was key. Only the top two boats were able to get away with all single digit finishes. Congrats to our clients for your outstanding performance. Thanks to the Buffalo Yacht Club for hosting this years North Americans. It was a great event and a lot of fun for competitors!

Tips from North Sails Experts Zeke Horowitz & Mike Marshall:

Boat Setup and Crew Positioning

1. Don’t be afraid to loosen the lowers a lot. It’s important to generate 3/4 of an inch of mast sag, which requires aggressively loose lowers. Maybe it sounds risky, but it worked 100% of the time!
2. Using main leech tension to power up the boat and get people to the high side was important. It seemed a relatively tight main and slightly eased jib was fast in under ten knots and flat water.
3. A lot of concentration on sail trim was a key factor. The helmsman needs to focus on maintaining a balanced helm, not over steering, and letting the boat ‘steer itself’. Moving the crew weight was essential to achieve a neutral helm.

Boat speed and Decision Making

1. Jib halyard tension was pretty critical. Over the range of conditions, the goal was wrinkles  just forming off each of the snaps. Scallops meant the luff was too loose and no wrinkles meant the luff was too tight.
2. Match the boat speed of the boats around you before trying to match the height. We were able to point higher when the boat was up to speed and the keel was working.
3. Staying out of the middle of the course was also very important. When the wind was that light, the breeze would fill in from either edge. If you were in the middle, you could lose out on both sides, especially if you tried to run to the side with the shift instead of waiting for pressure on the side you were on. Patience was key!

Click here for more information on North Sails J/22 Products or to speak with a North Sails J/22 Class Expert.

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Story Contributors

The Jug 4 1 tops off the fleet at the 2017 J/22 North Americans headshot
Mike Marshall

One Design Expert, Sail Designer — Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Mike won the 2016 J/22 Worlds, which led to a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year nomination. He has also won the J/22 North Americans and finished top ten at multiple J/24 Worlds, North Americans, and Nationals. He graduated with a degree in Geophysics from Connecticut...

The Jug 4 1 tops off the fleet at the 2017 J/22 North Americans headshot
Zeke Horowitz

Annapolis, Maryland

Zeke Horowitz grew up in Sarasota, Fla. where he quickly took to sailing and began racing in the Optimist Class at the age of nine. His Optimist racing took him all over the world and inspired his passion for sailing...