2022 has been a year full of learning in the J/24 Class. From Midwinters in February and Nationals in May to Worlds in July and J/24 North Americans in October, most of the major regattas have been in the US and provided teams with lots of opportunities for continuous improvement. "It’s been great to build off each regatta and sail in so many challenging venues." Quantum Sails' Travis Odenbach says. Here are a few takeaways Travis and his team had from this season.
This year, my team learned how to work and communicate as a team, and we learned to play to our strengths. It can be tough sailing with new crew, but if you spend enough time sailing together, you’ll really start to gel. This year, our team practiced and raced enough that we learned to trust each other in our respective roles. That trust has been key to our success because each of us can fully focus on what we have to do knowing the others have their jobs covered. The team also gained confidence in my abilities on the helm throughout the season.
Boat Prep and Mast Butt Position
We spent so much time sailing the same boat this season that we learned a lot about the nuances of J/24s. Every hull is a little different, but there are many things that will make you faster from boat to boat. With boat prep and setup, it’s important to have a minimum-height mast, a maximum-length forestay, a maximum-forward keel, and a minimum-depth rudder. Once that is sorted out, go sailing and find the correct mast position for your boat in different conditions. Mast position can make a huge difference! The Quantum J/24 Tuning Guide is a great place to start, but you need to test how the boat reacts to truly dial in your setup.
If all your other settings are accurate, the feel of the helm can tell you how to adjust your mast butt position. There are many variables that cause you to move it fore and aft, but I hone in on my base setting by following these two telltale signs.
- If you have leeward helm going upwind, move your mast butt forward in 1/8-inch increments until the helm feels neutral.
- If you have weather helm going upwind and the bottom of your mainsail can’t be flattened with vang tension, move the mast butt back in 1/8-inch increments until the helm feels neutral.
Genoa Lead Position
The last thing I learned this season is that the genoa lead position is probably the most critical aspect of upwind setup. Make sure you have it dialed in for the conditions you are sailing in; this really affects how you sheet and balance the boat. Jay Miles, our tactician, constantly reminded us about car positions. The frequency with which you should check and adjust lead positions is something I’ve never given enough attention to until Jay started sailing with us. What he taught us has made a big contribution to our success throughout the season.
Although it’s been a long, full year, it’s refreshing to learn so much and see our hard work pay off. That’s what makes our sport so fun – besides the people in the class, of course. If you’d like to get in touch with me about sails, setup, trim, or tuning, I’m available to chat all things J/24. Enjoy this small break because 2023 is shaping up to be another big year in the States!