Lessons Learned From the 2015 J/24 World & North American Championships: Chartering a Boat and Remembering to Relax

By Travis Odenbach

In the last three weeks, I’ve traveled from the J/24 World Championship to the J/24 North American Championship. In my travels, I learned a few things about logistics and what it takes to compete at a high level at major events. Here are some of my take-aways from Worlds and North Americans.

When Chartering a Boat

Lesson One: Do Your Research

For the 2015 Worlds in Boltenhagen, Germany, we arranged to charter a boat in Germany – the measurement certificate and results were exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, after looking at the boat when we got there, we realized it was nothing like we were told.

If you’re not fortunate enough to have your regular boat with you, make sure you do your research so you’re not surprised.

Lesson Two: Arrive Early

We arrived six days ahead of time, but it wasn’t enough. We spent four days practically rebuilding the boat – we re-faired the keel and rudder then painted them. We also had to replace the rigging. It was frustrating to deal with, but I had the right team for it.

When you’re using an unfamiliar boat, give yourself a week before measurement to get the boat up to par so that you can get some in practice before the event.

Lesson Three: Sail With a Team You Trust

I have a team of about 10 people I use for any given event. Some people can’t sail every weekend, so I need to have a rotation and it finally seems to be working!

Despite our bad luck in the beginning, we fixed the boat as well as we could and started to focus on sailing. The team did an amazing job, and I am forever grateful to have them on my boat.

With shifty race conditions, we managed to finish third at J/24 Worlds – a great accomplishment considering how the event started! Thanks to all our friends in Germany who helped us make the most of the event, and thank you to my crew – Rossi Milev, Jim Barnash, Josh Putnam, and Ian Coleman.

Relax and Have Fun

Less than two days after Worlds, I headed to Portland, Maine for the J/24 North Americans. I was relieved to know that I would be using my own boat. Although I had a team that was completely different from Worlds, it was a team I’ve sailed with a lot.

Wednesday, Sept. 9 we practiced all day. Dave Vancleaf, our tactician, brought a new level of intensity with him. While practicing inside the bay, he taught me something about sailing in a new area! Dave took us to every corner of the bay so we knew how deep it was in each spot and what the current was doing at each point in the bay. There were plenty of lobster pots out there to check current, and the current was drastically different in certain spots. It was a great practice, and I was glad to have Dave on board!

Racing was great. We had superb pro Hank Stewart running races and were able to sail nine races in shifty conditions. We finished our first race in 28th place – that was a scary feeling, and arguably the only race that was iffy the whole week. After that, we sailed as a team and were calm and smart the rest of the week. My team of Billy Farmer, Dave Vancleaf, Collin Kirby, and Wilson Stout did an amazing job staying focused, and it paid off in the end with a second place finish.

At Worlds, we worked so hard and tried so hard to win that nothing fell our way. At the North Americans, I was tired and just tried to relax and have a good time because I knew that it may not swing my way. Staying calm and relaxed is key. My team was relaxed but confident, and it definitely paid off!

After three weeks of working hard, I’m finally back in the office, but I’m already gearing up for the next event. If you’d like help preparing for your next regatta, give me a call to find out how I can help!


Congratulations to our Quantum customers who finished in the top ten at J/24 North Americans!

Travis Odenbach, Honey Badger – 2nd
Bob Kinsman, Dogfish – 8th
Aiden Glackin, Mental Floss – 9th
Evan Petley-Jones, Lifted – 10th

Click here for full results.


Travis Odenbach, One Design/Sail Consultant
Quantum Sails Rochester
1461 Hudson Ave.
Rochester, NY 14621
M 585-943-8652
O 585-342-5200

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5 Things You Can Do to Help Us Help You with Overnight Regatta Service

Need an overnight sail repair? We’ve got you covered! Follow these five steps to make sure your sail is in ship shape and ready to fly.

Any time a hundred boats get together it’s bound to get exciting. But sometimes, exciting can turn to devastating.

Race repairs happen, and at Quantum Sails we aim to do everything we can to get you fixed up like new and back on the water the next day. There are a few things you can do to help us help you.

1. Make sure your sails are dry.

When your spinnaker blows up and you drag it back onto the boat, don’t just stuff it in the bag — you’ll be paying overnight rates to have us dry your sail and it will likely be the last one done. Instead, pull the kite up on the lawn or on deck as soon as you hit the dock to get it dried out before you take it up to the van.

2. Take a picture of the repair.

Poked the pole through the kite? Ripped out a batten pocket? Take a picture of the repair, either while the sail is still flying or laid out on the grass after the race, and send it to us (our contacts are at the bottom of this post). It’s also helpful to mark the repair with a piece of masking tape, or pull the torn section of the kite to the top of the bag. The more information you can give us about the damage to your sail, the more efficient we’ll be at getting it fixed.

3. Get to the van early.

We’ll have a van staffed at the event and waiting for all your repairs, but don’t wait until five o’clock to bring your sails up to us. The earlier you bring us your repairs, the better chance we have at completing the work overnight. If you have a particularly difficult repair, it pays to let us know (via text message) that it’s coming before you're even off the water.

4. Have a credit card ready.

During regattas, every Quantum customer, first-timers and long-timers, must pay for overnight repairs with a credit card. Make sure you have a credit card in your pocket, or give one to your crew when they bring up the sails. All you or your crew has to do is fill out a quick form, and the next morning your good-as-new sail will be bagged, tagged, and waiting for you at the top of the ramp.

5. Be nice.

Regattas are stressful for everyone — owners, crew, and servicemen alike. Our servicemen are sailors too, and they’ll be on the water all day and sewing sails all night. It makes the experience a lot more pleasant for everyone when you bring your sails for service with a smile on your face. After all, regattas are supposed to be fun!

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Tommy Sitzmann and His Mismatched Socks Are Making Waves in the Opti Class

Ten year old Optimist sailor Tommy Sitzmann had a “white hot” summer winning several White Fleet events, often by large margins. Sailing against mostly older competitors, Tommy tied for the overall win at Rock Hall, placed in the top three at the Oxford Annual Regatta, and is first overall in the Chesapeake Bay Optimist White Fleet standings. He took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his sailing, his success, and his socks.

When did you start sailing, and why? I was five or six, and I started because my whole family liked it. I sailed on our big boat and enjoyed it, so I started sailing Optis.

What’s your favorite thing about sailing? I like roll tacking – sailing faster upwind while you’re turning. I like jumping to the other side. It’s pretty fun.

You won five races in a row this summer. Which was your favorite? The Junior Olympics. Winds were 20-25, so it was really windy and there were lots of boats. It was a pretty big regatta.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this year to help you win all those regattas? I’ve learned to not go to one side too much, to tack out to one side and then come back – not all the way, just enough so you’re not in the middle, but not on the other side too much. Once you get closer to the mark, tack more so you can make it.


You chose the Quantum XR-1 Green sail this year. Why? My dad used to work for Quantum, so I started watching TP 52 videos. When the boats were lined up and you could see the head sails, the Quantum sails looked a lot better than the other sails. I did a lot of research, tried a few, and decided I wanted a Quantum. The cross cut is fast and really easy to tune and trim.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you while you were sailing? I was sailing with my mom and was hiking upwind when the wind just died. I heeled to windward and fell out!

Was there ever a scary moment for you while you were sailing? In one Opti regatta it was really windy, and I’m pretty light. I was hiking out pretty hard and I’d let the sail out a little. I was really nervous because I’m not good in heavy wind. When I came around the windward mark, I couldn’t keep the bow down and I almost capsized.

It was really scary because I was going fast and my boat was filling with water, some of the boats crashed around me. I had to turn my boat up, then turn back down and ease my sail out super-fast.

Do you have any superstitions? I never wear matching socks.

Is that for good luck? No, I just don’t like to sort them when they’re cleaned.


If you could sail anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would sail to Bermuda. It’s a nice place to sail and there’s lots of wind most of the time, so it wouldn’t take forever.

What are your sailing goals? I want to be a very good sailor, hopefully one of the best when I grow up. I want to sail long distances, like across the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you want to be a sailor when you grow up? I want to design sailboats and help build big racing boats that do the Transatlantic Race. Hopefully I’ll get one and sail it.

If you could give advice to other kids who are thinking about sailing Optis, what would you say? Sail fast, but don’t think about it too much. Just sail and stay calm.

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