J111 2018 North American Championship

The J111 championship was quite an interesting race. Due to torrential rain, the 6th race was skipped and Friday was very windy making sailing a challenge. Congratulations and thanks to all the sailors who joined in the J111 North American Championship. Special congratulations go out to our very own Brad Faber who took third place.

SKELETON KEY Dominates J/111 North Americans
(Macatawa Bay, MI)- Sixteen teams competed over the three-day event for the 2018 J/111 North American Championship title hosted by Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland, MI. The fleet was treated to a broad range of sailing conditions, from flat waters and light airs in the beginning, then concluding with 18-25 kt winds for an epic “blowing dogs off chains” finale in huge, steep seas from the southwest. Continuing their success in major J/111 events, it was Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY from San Francisco, CA that was crowned the 2018 J/111 N.A. Champion.

Day 1- Light, Tricky Winds
Light winds greeted the fleet on the first day, a breeze with a lot of streaks and lulls in between. Jim Connelly’s Slush Fund figured out the conditions in the pair of races, posting a 2-1 on the day for the lead at 3 points. Just two ticks behind in second place is Jeffrey Davis’ Shamrock, who recorded a solid 3-2 for 5 points. Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key started the day with a bullet but added a sixth for 7 points and third place.

Following 2017 J/111 World Champion Wagner in the opening match were Connelly and Davis. Then Connelly and Davis each moved up a notch in race two, taking first and second ahead of Bradley Faber’s Utah.

Day 2- More Moderate Winds
Wagner’s Skeleton Key had a near perfect day on Thursday to move into the lead. Good breeze allowed three races, two of which were won by 2017 J/111 World Champion Wagner. Skeleton Key also had a second in the middle contest, ending with 11 net points in the no-discard series. Jim Connelly’s Slush Fund stumbled in the last race of the day, dropping to second overall with 23 points. The consistency of Bradley Faber’s Utah put them in third with 27 points among the 16-boat fleet.

Chasing Wagner in the initial race were Richard Witzel’s Rowdy and Connelly. Then, it was Connelly back in the driver’s seat, beating Wagner and the Andrew and Sedgwick Ward team on Bravo. The final battle went to Wagner again, as Witzel earned another second and Tracy Brand’s Solution took third.

Day 3- Epic Breeze for Finale
Wagner’s Skeleton Key improved his J/111 resume by adding the 2018 J/111 North American Championship to his 2017 J/111 World Championship title. With crew John Collins (bow), Nick Gibbens (headsail trimmer), John Hayes (mast), Dave Lyons (spinnaker trimmer), John Pernick (main trimmer), Cory Schillaci (pit) and Seadon Wijsen (tactician), the St. Francis Yacht Club member recorded no scores lower than a sixth in the no-discard, eight-race series. Skeleton Key ended with 18 points, including three bullets. Jim Connelly’s Slush Fund secured the silver position with 36 points, just one ahead of Bradley Faber’s Utah and Rob Ruhlman’s Spaceman Spiff that tied on points at 37 for third and fourth, respectively.

In breeze sometimes sustained over 20 knots, Friday’s race winners were Faber’s Utah, Jeffrey Davis’ Shamrock and the trio of Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson and Mike Mayer on Kashmir. However, race 6 was later abandoned due to an improper action by the Race Committee.

The top five teams were SKELETON KEY first, Connelly’s SLUSH FUND second, Faber’s UTAH third, Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF fourth, and Davis’ SHAMROCK fifth.  For more J/111 North American Championship sailing information

The above article was written by Chris Howell and photographer Dan Dupree.