It’s the opening night of the J/24 Silver Anniversary Regatta in Newport, R.I. One after another, J/24 “legends” take the stage and offer up a story or two. “He loves to tell this one,” someone in the crowd whispers to a friend. On stage is 1984 world champion Dave Curtis, telling the crowd of 600 or so about the time he, Bob and Stu Johnston, and Major Hall spent Block Island Race Week racing and sleeping on the 24-footer, just so the boat’s designer Rod Johnstone could say it comfortably accommodated four live aboards.
Rolph Turnquist, 55, of Hamel, Minn., and John Gjerde, 54, of Delavan, Wis., the longest-running co-owners of a J/24 and founders of Fleet No. 1 (Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka), follow up with one about the day they went to pick up their first boat from builder Tillotson-Pearson. As they inspected their new ride, hull No. 7, they noticed the stanchions were too small. Says Turnquist: “Everett [Pearson] says, ‘No problem. I’ll be right back.’ He goes and raids the naval shipyard and eventually comes back with a car full of stop and yield signs, saws off the posts and gives us our stanchions. They’re still on the boat today.”