North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Will Welles, Mike Marshall


Fast Sails, Practicing and Having Fun: The Keys for Success at the 2021 J/24 US Nationals

J/24 US Nationals
2021 J/24 US National Champions. 📸 USA J/24 Class Association

I had the good fortune to sail with a great young team at the 2021 US Nationals led by Mike Marshall. He put a great crew together and it reminded me that that is what it is all about. You must have a team that is unselfish and works hard no matter what, Dave Hughes, Jeff Hayden, and Matt Coughlin are just that. Of course, we had a fast boat, thanks to Chris Morgan who just fully rebuilt it and we sailed with the standard North Sails Fat Head mainsail, DX-7TT Genoa, FR-2 spinnaker and we even got to break out our SRB jib for race nine! We were a brand new team at the J/24 US Nationals, but by following the three basic tips below, we were able to work hard to get up to speed quickly.

It’s all about prioritizing

Especially when you are limited with time, etc. We figured we needed to make sure we could tack and jibe.  We spent a few hours Thursday practicing just that. Dave jumped right back on the bike and picked up where he last left off in 2009 at the Worlds in Annapolis. It was lighter air, we were really able to practice our roll tacks and roll jibes. Youth is a beautiful thing, Jeff and Matt worked very hard, always on the balls of their feet ready to move! We also took a little time to make sure our straight-line speed was good but prioritized the boat handling, many boat lengths can be lost or gained at the corners. (windward mark and leeward gate.)

Use your time well on race day

We like to make sure we get off the dock in plenty of time to spend at least an hour doing our homework on the racecourse, it’s nice to sail as much of the course as you can and still get down to the start line to get your starting line pings and figure out the favored end of the line. Of course, this can change at a moment’s notice, we typically do our last wind shot at four minutes and confirm the start line location that we want to be. Also, keep track of the angle back to the committee boat and vice versa to the pin, if the line isn’t square you may notice you’re sailing more close hauled one direction.

Make sure your boat is set up for the conditions off the start line

We will sail upwind prior to the five-minute mark and make sure we like the rig tension, the genoa lead, halyard tension, backstay, etc.. so that we are set up to go fast off the line. We don’t want to be spending the few minutes getting the backstay right, etc. You want to be at full speed as you race the rest of the fleet to the first shift!

Having fun sailing is the key to success and better results. Please let me know if I can be of any help to you and your team, always love to chat about J24s.

J/24 US Nationals
Winners led by Mike Marshall, in front of the pack. 📸 Chris Howell
J/24 US Nationals
Tony Parker (2nd Place) and Mike Ingham (4th Place) sailing fast upwind. 📸  Chris Howell

Story Contributors

North Teams Take the Podium at the 2021 J/24 US Nationals headshot
Will Welles

One Design Expert, Sail Expert — Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Will Welles has been a member of the North Sails Rhode Island team since January of 2007, although in total he sports more than 22 years of experience in the sailmaking industry, including a six-year apprenticeship at the North Sails...

North Teams Take the Podium at the 2021 J/24 US Nationals 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...

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