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.

Quantum's Travis Odenbach sails on Honey Badger at the 2015 J/24 North Americans in Portland, Maine. Photo by Chris Howell.

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!

Relax and have fun - the Honey Badger crew at the J/24 North Americans

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 Clients 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


Travis Odenbach, One Design/Sail Consultant

Quantum Sails Rochester
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Rochester, NY 14621
M 585-943-8652
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