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J/111 Shamrock two-peats Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Detroit

by J/Boats 8 Jun 00:19 BST May 31 - June 2, 2024
J/111 Shamrock two-peats Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Detroit © Helly Hansen Sailing World

As the late afternoon southerly streaked out of the Detroit River and blue skies returned, the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta's distance race finishers trickled past host Bayview Yacht Club to conclude three days of excellent racing and the return of the regatta series after a 14-year absence.

By all accounts, it was a perfect weekend of racing and socials hosted by Bayview Yacht Club for the one-design fleets of J/35s, J/111s, J/120s, and J/70s.

J/35 Class

The sailors of the local J/35 fleet put on quite a show with its growing fleet. Most of these now decades-old 35-footers have been returned to racing form, and the top three of this fleet were locked in boat-on-boat battles all weekend. At the start of the final race, Mike Welch's team on FALCON was sitting on a 1-point lead, but an OCS had them clawing their way back through the fleet to win the race and the series by 2 points over their arch-rivals on Bill Wildner's MR BILL'S WILD RIDE.

"That was quite a comeback and there's luck involved," Welch said. "When you're over early, the wind goes out of your sails. But, our crew kept it together and stayed positive. Our main trimer and tactician, Jim Allen, who is a very experienced sailor noticed better pressure left. He called that. There was pressure on the left side of the course and the class went right downwind. We got a little bit more pressure out on the left side of the course and then we got a nice 15- to 20-degree wind shift, which helped."

With this weekend's J/35 class win to add to FALCON's trophy cache, the team was also selected as the regatta's overall winner, earning a berth to represent Detroit at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Caribbean Championship, a battle of class champions in the British Virgin Islands on Sunsail-provided monohulls. The regatta is scheduled for late October where overall winning teams will race against the 2023 defender.

"I'm going to bring the A team," Welch said. "We have nine people on our boat, a very talented crew, and a lot of us have been together for 20-plus years, so we've got a talented group. But we also have a very fast boat. So that helps, too. We'll bring the team and it will be fun. We're going to be looking forward to it."

J/70 Class

Todd Hackett's team on USA 313 won the J/70 fleet and the inaugural J/70 Mixed-Plus National Championship. Second went to Wes Whitmyer's SLINGSHOT and third to Don Glover's MISS KILLER.

J/111 Class

In the seven-boat J/111 fleet, Jeffrey Davis' team on SHAMROCK put up a convincing win ahead of this summer's active class championship schedule with seven wins in eight races. Brad Kimmel & Steve Young's DIABLO and Kevin & Seth Young's BLACK SEAL were in a weekend-long duel for the balance of the podium. In the end, the last race and last leg determined the outcome, with DIABLO taking 2nd place to earn the silver, while BLACK SEAL finished 3rd to get the bronze medal.

J/120 Class

The big battle of the regatta, as expected, was in the nine-boat J/120 fleet where four teams were sitting on race wins, and after eight races, only 2 points ultimately separated the top three. Mike and Bob Kirkman's HOT TICKET got it done with a hard-earned second in the final race.

"We love sailing together," said Trish Kirkman, whose husband Mike is the helmsman. "We had a fantastic day today. We kept our heads in the game and you just can't count us out."

The balance of the podium saw Mike Fozo's PROOF in second place and Greg Baker's KAIROS in third place.

More information here

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