|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||Contact: Dana Paxton
January 18, 1997
Key West, FL -- Ninety-six J/24s converged on Key West, Florida to determine the 20th Midwinter Champion. Chris Larson (Annapolis, MD) and crew sailed consistently in the six-race, no throwout series to capture the championship. Sailing with Chris Larson were Paolo Boido, Karl Anderson, Mark Hallman, and Jon a The U.S. J/24 Class Association and Key West Sailing Club were sponsors of the regatta.
After Monday's qualifying races, the fleet was divided into two fleets. The 52-boat Champion Fleet and the Designer Fleet with 46 boats. Tuesday's qualifying races were canceled due to extreme wind. The championship series began on Wednesday with ideal one design conditions: small jibs and great waves for surfing.. The Champion fleet, with boats entered from five countries, traded leaders with every race. With winds ranging from 15-20 knots, conditions were challenging and competitors pushed hard on every leg. In the Designer Fleet, Will Crump (Annapolis, MD), aboard his boat Satisfaction, took the after race two and held on to the top position the entire week.
Monday's racing was sailed in 18-25 knot northeast breeze. Breakdowns took a toll on the fleet. The key to success was to finish. Englishman Stuart Jardine exemplified this by sailing the last three legs of race two under jib alone. Several boats who broke down on Monday were disappointed with the decision not to race in the high winds on Tuesday and lost their opportunity to redeem themselves and qualify for the Championship Fleet. Conditions moderated by Wednesday when the fleet completed three windward/leeward races in 18-20 knots. By now most crew had found the weak link on their boats and breakdowns were avoided. Thursday's conditions were classic Key West. Temperatures in the high 70's and breeze which increased from 6 knots at the beginning of the first race to 15 knots by the finish of the day. On Friday, the same cold front which plunged most of the country into a deep freeze, provided the fleet with 30+ knots for the second time of the week. Regatta organizers canceled the races scheduled for Friday.
The first J/24 Midwinter Championship took place in Key West in 1978 with 20 boats competing. This year's regatta exemplified the spirit of the original regatta: A one-design boat that is affordable, competitive to race, and a class of sailors with world-class experience.
The This Old Boat Award was presented to Hull #48, owned by Jim Keesling (Denver, CO), by Jeff Johnstone, J Boats, Inc., in recognition of the 1977-78 boat in best condition competing at the Midwinters. Hull #48 was also the oldest boat entered in the regatta and placed seventeenth in the Designer Fleet. J Boats, Inc., together with North Sails are the premiere sponsors of the 20th anniversary regatta. In a surprising moment, North Sails awarded a new suit of sails to "the skipper who consistently shows up to regattas, races to have fun, and always enjoys themselves no matter what." The new North sails were awarded to Jeanne Langdon (Dover, DE).
The Master Helm Trophy was awarded to Stuart Jardine (Hants, U.K.), the current U.K. National Champion, in the Champion Fleet. Peter Milnes (Middletown, RI) was the top Master in the Designer Fleet. Family Trophies were awarded to Roberto Martinez (Torino, Italy), in the Champion Fleet, and Peter Milnes, in the Designer Fleet. Top Woman Helm Trophies went to Margaret Podlich (Annapolis, MD), in the Champion Fleet, and Felicity Clarke (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), in the Designer Fleet.
Additional sponsors of the regatta include West Marine, Schooner Wharf Bar, Harken, Ronstan, BOAT/U.S., Rocky Mountain Boatworks, Ltd., Euro Sign, Finnigan's Wake, Green Parrot Bar, Turtle Kraals, and Sailscope.