Interview with Mark Wheeler on the 2021 J / 111 Worlds

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An interview with Mark Wheeler on the 2021 J / 111 Worlds

by David Schmidt Oct 14 03:00 PM UTC
October 18 – 24, 2021

2018 J / 111 North American Championship © J / 111 International Class Association

There is something about a 35ft keelboat that feels like law. The right number of crew, the right rudder response, the right running rig loads, the right feel when hauling a kite in a cool breeze. J / Boats figured it out in 1983 with their venerable J / 35, and over the next three decades the Rhode Island design firm created other highly successful One Design racers in that same range of tidy sizes. , starting with J / 105 (1991), J / 109 (2001) and, more recently, J / 111, which debuted in 2010.

Like its predecessors, the J / 111 has a waterline of around 35 feet, but the way it carries its LOA and volume is quite different from that of the J / 35. Her rig is also different, with the J / 35 piloting a symmetrical kite and the newer metric system boats all piloting asymmetric spinnakers.

The J / 111 class held their first World Championship regatta in 2014 off Cowes, UK, and made a US appearance in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2015 before returning to Cowes in 2016 .

In 2017, the class headed west to the windswept waters of San Francisco Bay for their Worlds, followed by the Netherlands (2018) and Chicago (2019) before the pandemic wreaked havoc. the 2020 event (which was scheduled for Cowes). Fortunately, widespread access to vaccines in the United States, appropriate social distancing, masks and other safety tactics allow the Hampton Yacht Club in Hampton, Va., To host the 2021 J / 111 Worlds (from 18 to October 24).

I contacted Mark Wheeler, president of the 2021 J / 111 Worlds regatta, by e-mail, to find out more about this One Design championship.

What kind of entry numbers do you see this year? Additionally, are there any notable geographic concentrations in this entry list?

We have eight registered boats. I’m not sure we’ll get more. The class sent a letter trying to encourage participation, but we saw no results.

In 2019, the Worlds were held in Chicago and they had 23 boats, 11 of which were from Lake Michigan. These 11 don’t tend to travel. They also had one from Australia and one from Switzerland.

With the Covid, there are no international players this year. The 2020 Worlds, in Cowes, UK, have been canceled due to Covid.

Six on [our] eight [boats] come from the east coast.

From a weather perspective, what conditions can sailors expect off Hampton, Va., From mid-October to late? What are the most optimistic and the most pessimistic weather scenarios?

October should be ideal for sailing. The waters of Chesapeake Bay are still warm and we have lovely fall breezes. The chances of a great week of racing are good, but like everywhere you can get anything.

Do you consider that local knowledge plays a big or a small role in the outcome of the regatta? Can you please explain?

The main racing area is in the open waters of southeastern Chesapeake Bay. This is an area we don’t normally use for local races so local knowledge won’t be a factor.

If we end up with very windy conditions we have the option of moving the race inside Hampton Roads. If so, we will run on the south side of the sea channel. This is also not our usual local boating area, we usually run on the north side of the fairway.

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

Hope everyone will come and have fun. The Hampton Yacht Club is known for its Southern hospitality. We do everything we can to make this experience pleasant and stress-free. We will have all the boats in the hold on the same floating dock, each with electricity and water. Those bringing support trailers will have space to park them near their boats.

We also plan to have one assigned parking space for each team’s vehicles.

Our race committee and our branded boats are all set to do a great job on the water.

Do you have teams that you are aiming for podiums? What about the black horses that you think might turn out to be fast, once the shots start ringing?

All eight teams are strong and any of them could finish on the podium. At this year’s Annapolis NOODs, the top five boats were just five points apart, the top three [boats] at less than two points.

How many races do you and the other organizers hope to score during the regatta? Will it be strictly wind races? Finally, will you be using traditional racing brands or will you be using some of the newer, GPS-guided autonomous robotic brands like MarkSetBots to administer the racetrack?

We have 11 races scheduled with a drop occurring once seven [races] are complete. All the courses are upwind and downwind with four or five stages.

We have big inflatable brands that will be anchored. We do not use autonomous GPS guided robotic brands. The running area is about 15 feet deep so our anchored brands will work well there.

Obviously, organizing and running a major regatta in the midst of an always hectic pandemic is not easy. Can you tell us about the biggest logistical and organizational hurdles you had to overcome to make this happen?

The Covid situation is constantly changing, and we will adapt to whatever the state of the Covid environment may be during the third week of October.

We have planned a large tent on the grass near the boats which will give us the opportunity to extend social activities outside the clubhouse in an outdoor environment.

Can you tell us about the efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to reduce the environmental footprint of the regatta or to make the regatta greener?

We have a water-[bottle] gas station near the clubhouse that all are welcome to use. Our race committee and branded boats will use refillable cups with water coolers. We do not use plastic drinking water bottles.

Is there anything else you would like to add for the record?

We are expecting a great event. All members of the Hampton Yacht Club are delighted and honored to host the J / 111 World Championship.


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