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An interview with David Collins on the 2024 J/111 North American Championship

by David Schmidt 4 Jun 16:00 BST June 5-9, 2024
2021 J/111 North American Championship © Christopher Howell

In 2010, designer Alan Johnstone drew the linesplans for a fast, capable, and offshore-worthy 36-foot Grand Prix One Design keelboat that immediately began turning heads. Since them, J/111s have been collecting racecourse trophies and generating smiles on multiple continents thanks to the design's powerful sailplan, slippery undercarriage, and well-considered deck layout.

While the boat is a favorite for offshore handicap events, the class also enjoys great One Design events, including the 2024 North American Championship (June 5-9), which is being hosted by the Los Angeles Yacht Club, and which will be contested on the waters off of San Pedro, California and on the Los Angeles Harbor.

Provided that the wind gods cooperate, the event is planning three days of Windward-Leward racing (with an eye towards scoring three W/L races each day), plus a 20 nautical mile distance race (AKA, "the random leg race") that will test crews abilities to tackle at different points of sail.

I checked in with David Collins, who is serving as co-chair of the 2024 J/111 North American Championship, via email, to learn more about this championship-level keelboat regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the state of the J/111 class, its current culture, and the kinds of competition levels one can expect to encounter at the this year's North American Championships?

This high-performance yacht continues to offer the remarkable racing experience that we have all come to expect from J Boats.

The class races in both handicap and one-design at many venues. It has had success offshore. The fleet for the 2024 championship includes some of the best sailors in the world.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing ahead of this year's event? Also, are there any notable geographical concentrations to this entry list?

We currently have ten boats registered. This is the first J/111 championship in Southern California. We have boats from San Diego, San Francisco, Cleveland Ohio, and other places. There is a rapidly growing local fleet in Southern California.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off on the waters off of San Pedro and on the Los Angeles Harbor in early June? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

The water just outside Los Angeles Harbor is renowned for providing excellent sailing conditions during the summer. Los Angeles Yacht Club has been starting the TransPac yacht race to Hawaii since its inception over a hundred years ago from this location.

A stable westerly breeze should fill in during the day with moderate swells. Dry weather with sunshine is normal.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

There is little current to contend with and if the weather is normal, [and] we could have champagne sailing all week.

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

Don't miss this one, we could have a spectacular week of racing!

Do you have any entries that you're eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

Among the entries we can already include the World Champion and former North American Champions.

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 windward/leeward course will be run using a small but proficient and experienced Race Committee. The course area is very close to the harbor, so there will be minimal fuel wasted transiting back and forth. We will also meet all the current recycling and waste disposal requirements. The event will follow current safety standards both on and off the water.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add about the 2024 J/111 Nationals, for the record?

The yacht club will ensure that the competitors enjoy excellent hospitality when they arrive ashore each evening. Among added attractions is a scheduled dinner aboard the battleship USS Iowa in Los Angeles Harbor.

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