Final report: 2018 West Marine J/70 World Championships
Sunday, September 30, 2018 8:47 AM
The glitterati from the world of sailing came to Marblehead for the 2018 West Marine J/70 World Championships. Ninety-One teams from 18 different countries battled out 11 highly competitive races. The depth of talent in the fleet was unprecedented with Olympic Gold Medallist, America's Cup winners, and world champions vying for one of the biggest world championship is the modern era.
There was a fairy tale ending for Jud Smith, born and bred in Marblehead, winning the J/70 World Championship with his team racing J/70 Africa, and representing the Eastern Yacht Club, hosts for the event. The intensity of the battle was such that Jud Smith succeeded without winning a single race, and only making the top three on one occasion. In the end Jud Smith's Africa (Eastern YC) won the world title by a single point.
Africa Crew: Jud Smith, Lucas Calabrese, Will Felder, Marc Gauthier.
“This fleet was incredibly deep," commented Jud Smith. "We all have the utmost respect for all 90 of you, anybody could have won this regatta, and we respected that. It really was a privilege to race here and a lot of fun. I would like to thank my team, we have worked really hard, training for this event all year long, and we have been together through thick and thin. It has been a hard week, for Marblehead, we have had more breeze than we usually get - the conditions have been very challenging. We are really glad, we came back from a tough position in the last race, and at the time, we didn't realise how important those points were. It is hard to comprehend - winning in Marblehead is special, but a little extra pressure for sure, I really can not praise my team enough.”
Luis Bugallo (ESP) racing Marnatura is the 2018 Corinthian J/70 World Champion, adding to the European title won in June at the young Spaniard home club, Real Club Náutico de Vigo. Luis like most of the Marnatura team is just 23 years old.
“I think we did a great job as a team, we prepared by trying to improve ourselves, and coming sixth overall and winning the Corinthian title is a very good result. In this fleet consistency is one of the most important factors, and so is to know the best way to mode the boat for the conditions. Upwind probably the top 30 boats were the same speed and height, the big difference is optimising the boat for downwind, knowing whether to heat up, go wing-on-wing, or go low, and that takes time to understand. The racing was amazing, the start line was huge, and we tried not to be at the extremes of the line, we tried to keep our options open.”
Bruno Pasquinelli's Stampede (Fort Worth BC) was the runner up overall, just a single point away from victory. “A lot of the owners have been racing against each other for decades, this has been a lot of fun, even though we just missed out."
Jack Franco's 3 Ball JT (Lakewood YC) was third overall, just three points away from glory, and had high praise for Jud Smith, with a touch of irony Jack commented. “Jud, if you hadn't won you would be a dud, but now you have, well you're a real stud!”
Of the 11 races sailed, teams from Brazil, Great Britain, Italy, Monaco, Spain, and the United States of America, all scored race wins. Twenty-Two teams made the race podium, epitomising the strength in depth of the fleet, which was the largest fleet of J/70s ever assembled in North America.
The 2018 West Marine J/70 World Championship Prize Giving was held at the Eastern Yacht Club.
Officiating were Regatta Chairman Doug Morgan, Eastern Yacht Club Commodore Ulf Heide, J/70 International Class President, Henry Brauer and Ward Blodgett.
Doug Morgan was full of praise for Co-chair Cheryl Byrne, PRO Hank Stuart and his race team, and all of the staff at the Eastern Yacht Club, led by General Manager Jeff Wargo, and Assistant General Manager Brandon Farrell. Henry Brauer presented Eastern Yacht Club Commodore Ulf Heide with a half model of his J/70 Rascal to commemorate the 2018 West Marine J/70 World Championship.
Commodore Ulf Heide awarded the prizes to the top ten teams, and also special prizes were awarded: The youngest helm at the championship was Gannon Troutman (USA) racing Piped Piper, scoring a race win. Claudia Rossi Petite (ITA) for the top woman helm, and Kim Gibson (CAN) racing Seaya for the team's good humour throughout the regatta. Hundreds of competitors partied through the night at the Eastern Yacht Club, after an amazing championship.
The 2019 J/70 World Championship will be hosted by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, Torquay, United Kingdom from August 29th to September 6th, 2019.