The 37-boat J/24 fleet enjoyed a variety of conditions at the European Championship at the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth, England. The fleet managed twelve races from Aug. 13-19, and in the end it was Andy Taylor's Quantum-powered Phoenix who won by eleven points. The all-amateur crew credits their quick learning and instruction from Quantum’s Travis Odenbach as the keys to their success.
Helmsman Andy Taylor said the crew has several years of experience, but they’ve all taken time off for family and other commitments. This year, however, they committed themselves to competing. "We decided that this year we would put a team together to commit to sailing together for a couple of years and developing our boat speed and racing nous," he said. "The guys we have on our crew are all very keen to learn and are quick to overcome small adversities, meaning we’re able to keep moving rather than compounding mistakes."
To help them learn as much as they could, Taylor turned to Odenbach for advice. "Having struck up a good rapport with Travis at Worlds in Boltenhagen in 2015, we saw an opportunity to sail with him at Kiel and polish our approach to racing an international regatta," said Taylor. "Travis showed us that these boats need everyone to contribute, and – while mistakes can be made – you need to keep pushing hard and get the next decision right."
That advice became Phoenix's greatest strength. While other teams carried scoring penalties or mid-pack results, Taylor’s team maintained consistent boat speed and confidence with their Quantum sails. They remembered the tips they’d learned to help them maintain their advantage over the fleet.
"When we sailed with Travis in Kiel, we learned the importance of synchronizing the genoa and main trim to keep the boat moving and on her feet," said Taylor. "That was really important in Plymouth as the large tidal stream across the course created choppy seas that needed drive to get through. The Quantum genoa was especially quick for us in the light winds."
Phoenix sailed consistently throughout the event, only finishing out of the top ten once and ending with six top-five finishes. Their 60-point total was eleven points lower than their closest competitor and put them at the top of the podium.
The win has inspired Taylor and his team, who are already making plans for the next two years. "Along with attending UK events, we intent to travel to the German nationals next June in preparation for the Hungary Europeans then Worlds in Lake Guarda, Italy, 2018. We hope that Travis will also be able to attend these regattas with us."
Odenbach said he’d be happy to sail again with Taylor, and he’s thrilled with Phoenix’s results. "I really enjoyed sailing with Andy and his team," Odenbach said. "It makes me very proud to see a team that allowed me to jump in and sail with them succeed, and do even better without my help! I look forward to sailing with them in the future, and – hopefully – helping them to many more fun times on the water."
Congratulations to the crew of Phoenix, and good luck with your future events!
2016 J/24 European Championship
1st – Andy Taylor, Phoenix
For full results, click here!