​How Attention to Details Helped Two Amateurs Break into the J/24 NA Top Five

Sailing in everything from 5-25 knots, the J/24 North American champion was decided by a tie breaker, but the real stars of the show were fourth and fifth place teams Lifted and Mental Floss. Led by amateur drivers, these teams continue to improve, challenging amateurs and pros alike.

Mental Floss leads a downwind leg - 2016 J/24 North Americans. Photo by Chris Howell.

Forty-six boats showed up for the J/24 North American Championship in Port Credit Yacht Club in Mississauga, Ontario. In 5-25 knots of wind, Quantum’s Travis Odenbach said the competition was tight. “Our J/24 fleet in the states is getting better and better, especially our customers,” he said. It was extra rewarding as the fourth and fifth place finishers, Lifted and Mental Floss, have been working with Quantum to help their teams improve within the fleet and their work is paying off.

Aidan Glackin on Mental Floss finished in fifth place, his best finish of the season. It wasn’t an accident though. Glackin and his crew have been practicing all season and working with Quantum to make improvements. 

“We’ve worked hard on boat speed this year and have sailed in some really trying conditions,” said Glackin. “While it’s something we all know and say we do, I believe one of our better lessons is constant genoa adjustment. The other is how the team helps me get off the line, one of my big weak spots.”

Throughout the event, Glackin said their greatest strength was their continuous adjustments. “I hear we were one of the faster boats, especially on Saturday and Sunday. A lot of that was due to constant gear shift, constant ease and trim,” he said. “That speed, a couple of decent starts, and great tactics held us to a top-five finish.” Glackin is dedicated to Quantum Sails Rochester’s Kris Werner and Travis Odenbach. “After a great Newport World’s – finishing fourteenth overall, second amateur, and the top non-paid boat – I was sticking with Kris and Travis.” says Glackin.

Fourth place finisher Evan Petley-Jones on Lifted agreed – attention to tuning kept them competitive. “One of the biggest lessons we learned early on was to embrace the advice – from boat set-up to sail trim – in the Quantum tuning guide. We also took the time to create a tuning matrix for our boat, so there’s very little guess work when it’s time to pick your settings on race day.”

“Attention to detail has given us our most significant improvements over the last couple of years,” said Petley-Jones. “It’s been a very long list of one-percent changes in boat set-up and handling all coming together to have faster settings across the range.”

The durability and longevity of their Quanum sails has also helped. “We’ve been extremely happy with our Quantum sails,” said Petley-Jones. “Upwind, we have fast, repeatable settings across the wind range, giving us more tactical options. Downwind, with our Quantum kite, we can sail deep and fast. We’ve been very pleased with the amount of days we can put on a Quantum spinnaker and still have a fast, stable sail.”

Petley-Jones and Glackin’s hard work paid off, leading them to the top of the fleet, finishing behind experienced professional racers. It wasn’t a fluke though – both teams have put in their practice hours to figure out their strategies, and it’s something they think other amateur teams could do to start seeing better results too.

Glackin’s tips for other amateur teams: when in doubt, give yourself a wider groove to sail in (ease), press (don’t pinch), and keep your speed up.

Congratulations to everyone on a great J/24 North American Championship!

2nd Place – Travis Odenbach, HoneyBadger
4th Place – Evan Petley-Jones, Lifted
5th Place – Aidan Glackin, Mental Floss

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