Report on Japanese Fleet

dsc00791-compressed1During my last trip overseas, I made time to visit the Japanese fleet and the Singapore fleets.

One of the Japanese fleets is located at Waseda Yacht Club where the President of the Japanese J24 association, Tommy Hatakeyama, sails from with Team Gekko.

I caught a train from Tokyo at 7am down to Misakiguchi to arrive at around 9am. Tommy was there with his team and picked me up at the train station. After a 15 minute drive we arrived at Waseda Yacht Club. I thought we were going to just have a meeting and look at the boats. Tommy asked, Mr. Peter, are you coming sailing with us today? I of course responded yes of course.

Of course I didn’t have any gear with me.I was whisked away to a modern3 storey glass apartment building just 5 mins walking distance from the yacht club to Gekko House owned by team boss and CommodoreShigeru Namiki, where we had a discussion about the Australian scene, the worlds and the Asian Pacific regatta.

When we went to look at the boats, Mr. Namiki came over and said lets go to the club. It’s 10 am, and he says let drink beer, it is absolutely rudeness to refuse Japanese hospitality so I accept. We drink a long neck of Japanese beer, he says another one?? Ok, comes back with some fried fish dish and we sink another long neck. Lets go he says and we go down to the travel lift which must be a 20 tonner, the Japanese use little transporters which are electric similar to what the airlines use. Boats are backed into the slip, two slings up and in the water in 2 mins with military precision – what would you expect from a professional Japanese yard team?

One of the crew runs down with Team Gekko’s boss’s spare set of Musto gear, and we are off.

We motor out into the bay, set the sails and go sailing. In the meantime the fleet is starting to grow and we hover around a rib in the bay.2 boats arrive, then 3,4,5,6. I ask are we racing? The answer is NO, not today, just sail training. What are we doing today I ask, Just practice starting today. It’s around 11am and the pin is set and a weather mark around 150-200 metres. Bang goes the hooter and we are in a 4 min countdown, forget 5 mins these guys can’t afford to lose time.

I’m working pit on Gekko, one of the teams boats for today. We time the start right and blow the fleet away. We sail around 50 metres and Tommy yells out something in Japanese and the fleet peels off and back to the line. He yells out something to Mr. Nobuo Nakazawa, who is the rib driver and runs Gekko House.

Japanese J24 Sailors

Hooter goes, 4 mins is the call and into the start sequence again , we jostle for position and the start is very close. We hike out and lee bow the windward boat, we are in front.

We sail for 100 metres this time, and Tommy recalls the fleet. He is the boss on the water for training.

I am really enjoying this:- I now know the drill – this time 1 lap.

Back to the line again and bang, we are off again. We position the boat well after a few close bumps from leeward and bumping the weather boat. I am loving this, we get a reasonable start and work hard hiking and pull out in front. 1 lap great, I call to Tommy we going kite? He says no, course too short. I say lets go kite and he nods. Pole goes up and we burn down the run, nobody else go kite. WOW these Italian specials are quick. We round the pin and finish. Wait for the fleet. He says ONE more – we have done about 5 starts now and this will be the 6th.

Bang, gun goes again. Tommy yells out to the fleet 2 laps, We all look for the best position off the line and we smoke it again. We are out in front by 3 or 4 boat lengths. Tommy says to me penalty turn practice, I go ready, we swing the boat around hard, dump the mast man in the piss as he didn’t hear the call, complete the turn.He managed to hang on the rail, pull him in and we are still ahead.

Pole goes up, all the fleet have their poles up and six boats run down neck and neck pumping and surfing down the waves. We finish and raft up the rib. Lunch time around 12.30. We have lunch, change bowman with the other Gekko boat and get back into for another hour and a half.

We pick up the buoys and head home. What a fantastic day! Had a couple of whiskies with the boss, took photo’s and said goodbyes.

Anyone who has the time, certainly go sailing in Japan. Japan has 50 J’s scattered all over the place but they all get together to provide a large fleet for their Nationals.


For additional photos, please visit

President's Message

This year has seen a renewed interest in the class with many new people involved both on the sailing and the admin side. Certainly it has been a steep learning curve for your new president.  ….  More (click here)

Social Night in Melbourne – August 5

Hugo Ottaway awards the New Whitworth's Trophy to Luke Mathews from Pacemaker
Hugo Ottaway awards the New Whitworth's Trophy to Luke Mathews from Pacemaker

Updated report on the night.

Following the very successful J Nights at Sandringham YC last year the Victorian Association has done it again. This time the night was held in the  brand spanking amazing new clubhouse.  For those who have not yet been into the new building you are in for a surprise – simply awesome !

The night started with a few people gathering in the members bar and then the group was given a complete tour of the new building. From the aircraft carrier bridge type race control tower at the top to the fully equipped auditorium and offices on the ground floor and the public areas on the first floor, the group was very impressed with the new building.

Drinks as usual and the with Victorian Association picking up the tab for a light finger food dinner as well, the evening went off well. About 20 members enjoyed the hospitality in the members lounge.  Simon Grain gave an overview of the national scene and Hugo Ottaway did the same with the local scene.

Hugo then presented Luke Mathews with the new Summer Aggregate Series  trophy – The Whitworth Marine and Leisure Cup (an impressive cup revived from the SYC loft as it had not been used for some time) – for last season’s Summer Aggregate racing won by Pacemaker. With the Nationals here next summer this new trophy will be hard fought for in the coming season.

(Apologies for the quality of my phone photo, it was the mood lighting !)

Six months to the day

The view over the J24 hardstand area and pond from the new clubhouse balcony

Today, the 8th of July is 6 months to the day, of the 2010 Nationals prize giving – will you be there getting a trophy?  Sean Wallis thinks he will.

The Victorian J24 Association is planning a huge National Championship in January next year. With the renewed interest in the class and the standard of both the local Victorian and the National fleets ramping up significantly in the last 12 months, we are expecting a strong fleet. At this stage over 20 boats have already indicated a desire to attend.

The Nationals program will commence on Saturday the 2nd of January with registration, measuring and an invitation race on Sunday. The championship will be a series of 10 races scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday being a layday with provision for resail. The prize giving will be held on the Friday night in the new Sandringham Clubhouse. In fact we will be the first National Championship to be held there.

The new building is amazing, located right on the breakwater for race area viewing and with the first floor bar, terrace and balcony overlooking the heart of the J hard stand and dockside area, we guarantee you will have a great time in these new facilities.

The new Sandy clubhouse - right on the breakwater !
The new Sandy clubhouse - right on the breakwater !

But it isn’t all fun – some of us will get serious on the race track and with the current high standard of our one design fleet, the race for first place will be intense. Can you knock off Sean Wallis who will be out to defend his Nationals Title, if you think you can, Melbourne is the place to try.

For those with less ferocity for the top spot, why not enjoy the class strength and go for the handicap trophy, this is winnable by anyone in the fleet. The race for this trophy is the place to learn more about the class, meet new and old friends, getting back into one design and it is fun. So if you haven’t sailed your J in a nationals for a bit and want to share in the experience, this could be your competition.

Well, there is a lot more to come in the next 6 months of preparation for the big one in Melbourne, so keep your eye on the website for NOR around the end of July, and info on just about everything from measuring to social programs in the following months.

Remember – the dates to put in your diary are the 2nd to the 8th January

If you want more information contact Simon Grain on or Hugo Ottaway on

Sean Wallis wins first J24 Asia -Pacific Championship

'Wetty Gripper leads the fleet to top mark - 2009 J24 Asia - Pacific Championship' Traci Ayris

Sean Wallis and his team sailing Wetty Gripper sailed a flawless regatta to win the first J24 Asia – Pacific championship. The Regatta was held at the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia and sailed over three days.

With eight races scheduled day one started in 7 knots from the NW and a tight dual between Sean Wallis W.A. Ben Lamb N.S.W. and Simon Grain Victoria ensured with Sean Wallis holding a tight finishing fleet. Heat 2 Saw David Suda from Victoria leading but Vladimir Borstnar from Singapore sailed deeper angles downwind to take heat 2 from Suda and Wallis.

Day 2 was sailed in 12 kts of steadier breeze and heat 3 saw Ben lamb lead from Alyn Stevenson S.A. with Wallis 3rd. Wallis worked his way to the lead to win the heat from Lamb and Stevenson. Race 4 proved to be costly for DavidSuda who was OCS and Wallis again sailed extremely fast up the first beat to lead from Lamb with Borstnar third.

Suda and Wallis in close battle - 2009 J24 Asia - Pacific Championship - Traci Ayris
Suda and Wallis in close battle - 2009 J24 Asia - Pacific Championship - Traci Ayris

Heat 5 saw David Suda from Victoria again mixing it with Wallis and Lamb and the trio led the Singapore team around the first leg. Wallis was just too quick and went on to win another heat from Suda and Borstnar.

Day 3 and the weather looked ominous. The Race committee boat blew a turbo so racing was postponed whilst another committee boat was prepared. The Race committee kept a close eye on the rain bands to the west expecting some turbulent weather. With only five races sailed David Suda was hoping for at least two races so he could drop his OCS. After a 90 minute postponement the fleet made its way to the start in 22knts of breeze.

Heat 6 Wallis was just too quick and bolted to lead the fleet around the course with Suda second and Lamb third.

Heat 7 started ok but a 35 knot rain squall came through half way up the first beat reducing visibility to zero, hence the Race committee abandoned all further racing.

The Regatta has some extremely close racing and all competitors were thrilled the standard of competition vowing to return next year with the fleet expected to swell to 30 entries.

Article by Alyn Stevenson

2009 Asia Pacific Winter Championships – A fantastic Regatta

Top mark - first race

Wetty Gripper once again showed a disappearing transom to the fleet at the 2009 Asia Pacific Regatta in Adelaide over the Queens Birthday weekend.

In an even more totally convincing display of dominance than the Nationals in January on the same racetrack, Sean Wallis from Perth cemented his current position as the top J24 skipper in Australia.

Twenty Js made the start line for the newest series on the Australian race circuit, braving conditions that were at times extreme at both ends of the wind scale, and cooler than the brochure suggested. The only thing hot was the competition. Sean Wallis, Ben Lamb, Vladimir Borstnar from Singapore, Dave Suda and Alyn Stevenson made up the top 5 in that order. Leaving luminaries such as Hugo Ottaway and Sean Kirkjian to help fill in the top ten – such was the depth of talent and competition in the fleet.

The fleet was made up of some of the countries best skippers visiting from NSW (2 boats), Victoria (5 boats), TAS (1 boat), WA (one boat), SA (9 boats). From Singapore we had Vladimir Borstnar and his crew and from Korea we had Park Ki-Cheol and his crew (of 8, we think), as with some of the interstate crews, both using a loan boat from SA. We have to thank the untiring efforts of Alyn Stevenson and Peter Stevens and their helpers, the race officers and crews of the CYCSA for organising loan boats and crew billeting for making this first Asia Pacifica Regatta an amazing winter success.

Racing on the Saturday started in a light northerly wind, shifty and threatening to be stormy, it provided an easy entry for the competitors to winter racing in Adelaide – much like the brochure said it would be. Wetty Gripper set the pace in the first race early with Armed and Dangerous and Make My Jay hot on his heels at the first mark and with the race steadied, the major placegetters finished in the same order.

Race Two was sailed in softening and shifty conditions, pleasant sailing saw some fleet changes during the race with the final placings being Fun, Pacemaker and Wetty Gripper. Race three on Saturday was abandoned due to lack of wind – quite a popular decision judging by the cheers on the radios around the fleet.

Day Two and the wind had gone round to the SW – cold and windy with a few comments about ‘not in the brochure’ going around. The first start was a general recall, a sure sign that the fleet is getting serious in the new breeze. Sean Wallis didn’t have it all his own way at first and had to fight through the pack to win from Pacemaker and Fun 2. However a solid win all the same. Race four saw 3 of the Victorian boats OCS with all but Pacemaker going back and this was to cost them dearly in the overall results as the series ended up without any drops. Another win to Wetty Gripper with Armed and Dangerous second and Fun third. Adelaide was now showing its SW weather with strong upwind sailing and exciting downwind surfing, with many places being won and lost on the long surfing rides, a reward for the ‘downwind workers’. Race five was very hotly contested with a logjam of boats on the top mark the first time around, being a disaster for several boats arriving on port and having to gybe away to find a spot further back in the queue. With the wind gusting strongly this race provided exciting sailing, however once again although Sean Wallis had to fight to get to and stay at the front, he clinched another strong win with Pacemaker and Armed and Dangerous close behind.

Mondays racing was to provide an interesting day for not only the minor placings but also the sailing finesse of the fleet. The first race promised a very strong SW blow, very cold conditions and it was touch and go with the race committee whether the day would be held at all. The start boat had a terminal engine problem and so eventually another was found. The conditions were found to be sailable and even borderline between jib and genoa at times. Sean Wallis clinched his 5th win from Pacemaker and Armed and Dangerous. Race seven started under foreboding skies and with the first two legs completed the fleet was on it’s second beat when it was hit by a squall of around 50 knots, rain, hail, zero visibility and flogging sails and screaming noise meant that many boats pulled down sails or ran for shelter leaving a smaller fleet to come out the other side into an almost oily calm and brooding light, only to find that the race had been abandoned. And that became the end of the regatta, no drops and plenty of good and hard luck stories as usual.

Later on Monday the presentation was held with Sean Wallis and his crew taking the honours in one design from Ben Lamb and Vladimir Borstnar from Singapore. In the handicap section honours went to Brian Walsh on Cookie Monster, Alyn Stevenson on Fun 2 and Simon Grain on Make My Jay. (Wetty Gripper gives up 3rd due to being the winner of the One Design series.

For the full results go to

For more pictures go to

All the competitors expressed immense satisfaction and thanks to the efforts of Alyn Stevenson and his volunteers at the CYC for organising and running a brilliant first regatta for this series, which now has Intercontinental status. We are all looking forward to the next one !

Article by Simon Grain

Got a story about the regatta and want to make a contribution. Write a story or just a para or two and send it to Simon Grain : and we’ll get your story online.

Hugo Ottaway collected some interesting quotes from the regatta !!!

1: Herschel: ” we didn’t bother going back when OCS……. we’ll drop that one”…………Oooops – No Drops.

Part 2: Herschel: Didn’t you hear the radio…….. “we turned it off”………. mmmmm.

2: Dave Suda: why didn’t you use the new mainsail you pulled up the mast and sailed out to the race area with?…………”no battens in it”.

3:Sean Wallis: Gees I thought Hugo’s and David’s J’s had good speed………”no they don’t, their shit slow”……….. Humble winner.

4:Doug McGregor: when trying to order from ‘Hurry Curry’, handed the phone over saying “the Scots have a language problem with the Indians”. (you had to be there).

5: Ron Thompson: ” I think I’ll miss today’s racing”…… good decision, 75% of the fleet flattened by a 40+ knot squall.

6: Angus McKechnie: on relationships: came home to find his new girlfriend (who had just moved in) had neatly cut up his worlds regatta tee shirts for cleaning rags………… relationship didn’t last !!!

7: Angus McKechnie: when asked to pass out the lunches…… pulled out bread sticks and fillings and began making them on the deck with 7 mins to the start……. not what was expected.

8: David Suda: when the race committee announced they may not get any racing in because they had blown up the start boat motor…….. (making no drops)…….” that’s f***ed”, (were f***ed).

9: Pete Stevens….. who proudly showed off his bow modifications……” she’s only a few kilo’s over…… that doesn’t matter…. does it ???”….. mmmmmmmmmmm.

10: Ron Thompson: “Get the spinnaker up”………………………………. crew…”NO”.

11: Ron Thompson: “Ready to tack”…………………………… crew…”NO !!….WERE TOO WET”.

12: Fitzy: “Simon needs to work on his starts”………………………….. Next race OCS.

13: Herschell: I think your car’s blowing a bit of smoke!!…..” that’s nothing! the transmissions slipping and the trailers lost its brakes”………He still had to drive home.

14: Fitzy: who cleated off the spinnaker for the run home and then went and sat on the pushput…………. boat rolled over in the next gust.

15: Peter Stevens…….. “what the f**k have the girls got against me……. they’ve hit me twice today”.

16: Fitzy: who was underneath the boat tying it to the trailer…… ” Simon, when do you want to get the rig down”……………………….. Simon….”its down, you helped me”………… senior moment.

17: The Korean’s ….. who sailed with 5 ….. had 8 at the presentation……… no room on deck ???

Kevlar Genoas

Watching some videos from the worlds, I noticed that kevlar genoas are now legit… for those interested, North have got a couple of very well prepared pages with some more info.

In the end, the paneled Kevlar Genoa was very strong in moderate-heavy air and about even in the lighter breeze. The 3DL Kevlar genoas were great when they were going but sailed to a narrow groove. They seemed to react well to a tighter halyard and less sheet activity than the older generation Pentex sails.

In conclusion, we are happy with what we have done so far and where we have the ability to go. When the rule changes we’ll be ready. We are at a point in our R & D where the Pentex Genoa is hardly obsolete but the new innovations are beginning to look quite promising. The class is at an interesting and exciting crossroads and North Sails One Design is trying hard to help get you through it.