One of the huge benefits of sailing a windward leeward course is, it evens out the boats.
At the 2006 Melbourne World Championships, many of the top performers were boats with a minimum age of 15 years. None was more noticeable than Mike Ingham who shipped a 20 year old J out from America, whilst not in the top 3, his top 5 finish was excellent. He then went on to come second at the 2007 Worlds in Mexico in the same boat.
At the 2009 J Worlds in Sardinia last year, the majority of the fleet were boats 10 years+, just with new rigs and fast as ever.
Since then in Melbourne we have seen older J’s revamped and now competing at the front of the fleet. Ron Thompson’s AUS 1324 “Kicking Bottom” ( 20+ years old) has won several races at the beginning of the season, and Micheal Lewenhagen has just put AUS 1687 “Excite your Senses”, back in the water after a major rebuild.
In addition, 3 boats have new rigs and 2 have upgraded 2nd hand rigs. The end result of all of this effort, is improved performance across the fleet.
This was driven home when the J fleet sailed in the Audi Victoria Week at Geelong. Out of the 4 races that weekend the J’s got line honours in 3 and a 2nd in the 4th. A fantastic effort out of 50+ boats all of whom were bigger. In past years the S80 design yachts would have sailed past the J’s, this year, none of the 10 S80’s beat a J24 for line honours!
In South Australia several owners have revamped old J’s. Some of these boats were past Australian champions, were cheap to buy, cheap to clean up and revamp and are now sailing at the front of the national fleet again.
J24’s in Australia, can be brought up to race speed with a minimum of effort and experience. With the racing opportunities now offered, the excuse that your boat is no longer competitive no longer holds water. There are around 200 J24’s in Australia and most can be revamped into a competitive boat.
Over the next few months I will be listing hints on how to get old J’s fast, by reducing weight and getting rid of the huge amounts of junk found down stairs.
So, to all the owners of J’s not currently being used because of a notion that they’re no longer competitive, get out there and fix them up and see how quick they still can be. Just maybe, your boat may have been one that started a legend…. and …. one that could start another.
A revamped active fleet maintains the investment we all have in our boats, increases the enjoyment and interest in the class.
So get the spanners out, find the screw driver and start taking off all that old crap.
Hugo, Vice Versa.