||J/70 Worlds on Track to Host Top International Talent
35 boats, 12 countries already registered for St. Francis Yacht Club Regatta
Late September is more than four months on the horizon, but the St. Francis Yacht Club and the J/70 Class have already riveted their attention on the J/70 Worlds, which will unfurl on the waters of San Francisco Bay from September 24 to October 1, 2016. Since it first splashed in March of 2012, the J/70 Class has enjoyed a meteoric rise, with more than 900 boats now sailing in more than 20 countries, making this speedy sportboat the most successful One Design keelboat since Rod Johnstone built the first J/24 in his garage in 1975. This year marks the third J/70 World Championship and the first on the West Coast. Registration is open and in full swing, and the St. Francis Yacht Club encourages sailors to sign up early to ensure a spot on the starting line.
To date, 35 boats from 12 countries have entered the regatta, with many of the class’s fastest names represented, including Julian Fernandez Neckelmann (MEX), who won the 2015 J/70 World Championship in La Rochelle, France, and who aims to defend his title in 2016. While there’s no question that Neckelmann and his Flojito Y Cooperando teammates are world-class competitors, they will be up against some seriously fast guns with extensive local knowledge, including Shawn Bennett, Bruce Golison, Scott Sellers, Tracy Usher and Peter Vessella.
“The competition at the San Francisco Worlds will be fantastic,” said Neckelmann, who described San Francisco Bay as one of his favorite international racing venues. “I can think of six or seven European boats that will be in the hunt, seven North American boats that will be right up there, and two or three South American boats that should be contenders.”
While weather-driven events are impossible to accurately forecast four-plus months out, San Francisco Bay historically sees a prevailing westerly sea breeze in September and October, placing the J/70 Worlds solidly in the sweet spot for high-adrenaline racing. Fortunately, with nearly 90 years of experience hosting world-class regattas, the St. Francis Yacht Club can ensure that the race management and the shore-side events will be second to none.
“We can’t guarantee breeze, but we can guarantee a world-class race committee that will keep the racing smooth and tight,” said Susan Ruhne, who is serving as the Regatta Chairwoman for the 2016 J/70 Worlds. “We encourage top teams from around the world to experience fall sailing on the Bay and to celebrate the culmination of their racing season by lining up against the class’s top competitors. We have parties planned for each evening, and for those who want to explore our vibrant city, San Francisco offers countless great restaurants, bars and evening-entertainment opportunities.”
In an effort to make it easier for international teams to compete, the St. Francis Yacht Club partnered with J/World to offer a number of charter boats, all of which have already been reserved, thus enabling teams to compete that otherwise would be shut out due to the logistical and financial headaches of shipping a boat to the States or buying one for this event.
For teams that want to gather more local knowledge before the Worlds, the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Big Boat Series (September 15-18) is a perfect opportunity to learn the lay of the Bay. Seven J/70s are currently registered for the Big Boat Series, and this number is expected to swell as teams finalize their fall sailing plans.
Registration for the J/70 Worlds is open until August 15, 2016 (additional fees apply to teams that register after this deadline), and while there is no official entry cap, the J/70 Class and the St. Francis Yacht Club are aiming for 80 boats on the starting line. Please visit www.stfyc.com/j70worlds2016 for more information or to register for this exciting World Championship regatta.