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Joe Buonasera on the 2021 Good Samaritan Hospital J/24 North American Championship

by David Schmidt 16 Jun 16:00 BST June 16-20, 2021
J/24s making tracks to windward © 2020 J/22 and J/24 East Coast Championships/Pelican Photography

The design might not be new, but the competition level at any high-level J/24 regatta is always intense. This year's Good Samaritan Hospital J/24 North American Championship (June 16-20), which is being hosted by the Sayville Yacht Club in Blue Point, New York, promises to be no exception.

A glance at the regatta's registration list reveals a concentration of boats from New York State, however California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Washington State are also all represented. As is Mexico, thanks to Kenneth Porter's Monster Fish program.

Delve a bit deeper into the registration list, and one will see at least one former J/24 world champions (Keith Whittemore and his Furio team), as well as plenty of other highly competitive skippers and teams.

I checked in with Joe Buonasera, event chair of the 2021 Good Samaritan Hospital J/24 North American Championship (and a competitor), via email, to learn more about this exciting championship-level regatta.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year?

It was a slow start but we are currently sitting at 31 boats.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on the waters of Patchogue Bay in mid-June? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Typically, in mid-June the air temperatures begin to heat up to the mid 70s to 80s. We also start to get our steady southwest winds, which typically range in speed from 10 to 20 miles per hour.

Occasionally we also see wind directions from due east, which tend to blow pretty hard. Ranges are closer to 18-28 miles per hour.

Our best case is to have southwest wind 15 miles per hour and sunny and 75 degrees. Worst case due east, 28 miles per hour rainy and raw.

How important do you think local knowledge will be? Also, do you expect most visiting teams to arrive early and acclimatize to conditions?

Local knowledge is always a factor but it does not become too much of a factor unless the winds are very light. There are no real strong currents to worry about so that does not play any role in local knowledge.

I think teams will arrive early enough to participate in the practice race on Thursday June 17th. Some will drop boats off before that but probably not stay to practice.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?

I would tell visiting teams to prepare for all conditions.

In 2016, during the J/24 US Nationals we saw all types of weather. Also watch out for the Volkswagen Bug submerged off the point. You might bounce off the roof if you get too close to shore!

Obviously organizing and running a big regatta amidst a pandemic isn't easy. Can you tell us about the biggest logistical and organizational hurdles that you've had to clear to make this happen?

I could write a book about the planning of this regatta. I think the two biggest challenges have been keeping up the Federal, State, and Local guidelines for COVID-19 and getting boats to register. The rules change weekly if not daily in New York. It all depends on the numbers. Things are looking brighter everyday.

What kinds of safe-play pandemic tactics are you expecting from the racers on the water? Also, what kind of shoreside Covid precautions will the event employ?

With the new CDC guidelines about masks in the open air, I do not think that there are any concerns on the water. Most teams are in each other's pods for years now.

As for on land, we are following the New York State and Suffolk County health department's lead.

Our event will operate at or under 200 people. We are requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative test result no later than 72 hours prior to checking in at the regatta. Teams will be asked to scan a QR code that will be posted around the Sayville Yacht Club property and check in every day with the linked COVID questionnaire.

Teams will be assigned trailer parking, slips and dining tables, which will coincide with their bow numbers. All dining will be under a tent on the great lawn. Teams will be greeted by table service. Masks will be required whenever you are indoors.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta's environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

The Sayville Yacht Club has implemented a number of practices in order to lower our impact on the environment. We have replaced lighting and lamps with LED style lamps where we can. We have limited the use of single-use plastic cups for glass and or reusable plastic tumblers.

We have also installed a bottle-fill water fountain with chilled water. Magnetic Advisors LLC. has also donated money on behalf of the participating J/24s to a local charity "Save the Great South Bay" to help continue their bay clean-up efforts.

We are also encouraging our volunteers and competitors to use refillable water bottles instead of [single-use bottles].

Anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

I would like to thank my co-chair Bob Panico for taking on the challenge of helping run this regatta.

I would like to thank the many volunteers from the Sayville Yacht Club for whom this regatta would not be possible. Our members step up every time.

I would like to thank our title sponsor Good Samaritan Hospital for sticking with us through the last year. I would also like to thank all of our other sponsors for their support.

Lastly if you are not racing, you're going to miss out on what we think will be the best regatta of the year. No one runs a regatta like the Sayville Yacht Club.

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