Walking Away with a Trophy and Great Lessons

Despite the light attendance, Severn Sailing hosted the J/24 East Coast Regatta Oct. 30 – Nov. 1. Though the numbers were small, the competition was tight!

Travis Odenbach and the Honey Badger team pose with their 2015 J/24 East Coast Championship trophy.

The weather was perfect, with mid-sixty temps the whole weekend. Friday conditions were 10-15 knots out of the north, which made for shifty but flat water. Saturday brought sunshine, power boats, and light flukey winds out of the southeast. Sunday had some more shifty conditions with the wind ranging from 7-13 knots. Annapolis is known for streaky wind and having to go to the puffs instead of waiting for them to come to you, but for the most part that wasn't the case. Overall we enjoyed some of the best conditions I have sailed in at Annapolis.

I learned a lot about sailing in Annapolis last weekend, but there was one thing that stuck with me: in shifty conditions, get on the lifted tack in a good lane as quick as possible!

The start line was short and there were only fifteen boats. Our team talked about where we wanted to start and what end of the line we favored. In the grand scheme of things, the favored line didn't matter as much as being on the correct tack right after the start. Our goal became having a clean start and, if lifted, staying until the next shift or immediately tacking onto the lifted tack. Whether we had a good start or a bad start, we always got on the lifted tack trying to lead to the next shift first.

I will say it again: be the first to lead to the next shift!

Geoff Ewenson, my tactician for the weekend, never really said that was our strategy, but after the third race on Friday I started to see a trend. Whether we could tack and cross the fleet or duck the fleet or go straight for a few minutes, we were always on the right tack heading to the mark. That is a very good feeling when driving the boat.

The other thing I really concentrated on was rig tension. With it being so shifty and puffy, my go-to plan was set up for the lulls!

Friday was windier – hardly ever dropping below 9 knots – so I stayed at 24 on the uppers and 21 on the lowers. A good gauge for when to be at this setting is when everyone is always on the rail and the backstay has to be used every so often.

Saturday and Sunday we stayed at 20-15 because it was so patchy across the course. We never went below base unless it was super flat and super light. (I did get caught one race below base and every time the breeze came up over six knots I had no height – the boat felt stalled out the whole time.)

The East Coast Championship Regatta in Annapolis is a staple event for the J/24 fleet. As usual, Mark Rivera and Pat Fitzgerald hosted a great event. From Dock Talks on Friday to Flip Cup on Saturday, I wouldn't ever miss this event. (And Annapolis delivered on a great Halloween party in town!) So thanks to Pat and Mark for a great weekend, and thank you to my team – Geoff Ewenson, Ian Coleman, Wilson Stout, and Collin Kirby – I will see you next year!


Congratulations to Travis Odenbach – his three race wins put him ahead early and helped him win the 2015 J/24 East Coast Championship! For full results, visit the event Facebook page.

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