There is no doubt the last year and a half has been a particularly trying time for everyone. Recently, however, there have been some bright spots in the water world of competitive sailing. With the easing of Covid this year, the Sayville Yacht Club proudly hosted, in conjunction with the title sponsor, the Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, the J-24 North American Sailboat Championship. Last summer the event was canceled due to Covid.
The Great South Bay has a long history in competitive sailing. Though today the western bays from Hewlett to Seaford has a smaller share of sailboats, competition sailing geographically began at the Unqua Corinthian Club in Amityville and stretched out east to Bellport. This was due to the absence of congested islands and thatches that impede broad reaches necessary in competitive sailing which the openness of the eastern Great South Bay allows. Hence, yacht clubs from Amityville east drew a higher percentage of sailors. Some of these clubs have sadly moved from their commitment to the traditions of sailing and have turned themselves into social clubs for power boaters to economically survive. Yet there are still strong traditionalist yacht clubs promoting sailing and racing on the South Shore, Sayville Yacht club and Bellport Yacht club being two of the most active.
The Sayville Yacht Club was originally a split-off from the North Shore Seawanaka Corinthian Yacht Club of Centre Island. Initially named the Southside Yacht Club, its first commodore was John Roosevelt who owned an estate called Meadowcroft which presently is a museum and winery along the old South Road east of Sayville. His cousin, Teddy Roosevelt, would often ride on horseback from Oyster Bay to visit his cousins. He partook in many club-sponsored races with his uncle Robert Roosevelt and cousins. Through the 1930s the club continued to sponsor races. When the club was re-organized in the 1990s in Blue Point it rededicated itself to making racing the mainstay of the club by hosting many national and international regattas. Every type of sailing vessel from small Sunfish, traditional catboats, Hobies, O’Days, Blue Jays, numerous Laser regattas, and on to J-24s all have competed at Sayville Yacht Club racing competitions. This organization is truly devoted to the continuation and upgrading of this great sport.
The 2021 Sayville Yacht Club National J-24 Regatta took place from June 16 through June 20th. The weather was picture-perfect, as you see on these pages featuring the magnificent photography of Rich Labella, a talented nautical photographer.
As I write this article on July 16, it seems as if those days were the last time the sun graced the bay with cool breezes and less than stifling humidity. With bright sun, there is nothing more spectacular than the vision of competing sailboats going through their paces on the Great South Bay. The best place to view is from shore with a good pair of binoculars. You don’t want to be in your boat getting in the way of the competitors.
The J-24 is a unique sailing vessel with a very strong following. They are built for racing competition and not for canapes and drinks on the aft deck! I believe to do so would curse the vessel except when Champagne foams out at the end of a strong performance in a race. The J-24 was designed and built by Rodney Johnstone in his garage in Stonington Conn. in 1977. The first completed hull was called Ragtime and it became the master for all subsequent hulls. Over 6,000 exist today worldwide. J-24s are fixed keelboats, made primarily of fiberglass with decorative wood trim. Its stem is raked making her appear fast even out of the water. They all have tiller-controlled rudders. It needs a crew of 3-5 who get weighed before each competition for load compliance which automatically bans me from any deck of a J-24.
They are monohulls with a 4ft draft, 24ft LOA, and a beam 1inch nigh of 9 ft. Between the mainsail, jib, and spinnaker, each carries a total of 710sq ft of sail capacity and are fitted with 5-6 HP outboards for docking convenience and when the wind just dies for what seems like forever and especially when the green flies find you. Generally, her hull speed capability is in the range of 6– 10 knots which allows you to feel the wind and get close to the sea as opposed to that *!@$% who just blew by with five 400 HP outboards on the transom. Below decks are accommodations for a crew of four with bunks, a head and a small galley. Since the J-24 can use a crew of up to 5, the fifth usually sleeps sitting on the “head if the weather is too foul for sleeping on deck.
This vessel is easy “trailerable” and weighs in at 3,100 Lbs.
The “International J-24 Class Association’’ conducts and manages all competitions. Starting in 1977 there have been 42 International J-24 Championship competitions all over the world. Currently, there are 3,600 competing members from over 30 different countries. Over the years Americans have taken the gold 24 times with Italy coming in second with 5 and the rest divided between Australia, Japan, Brazil, Argentina and Germany. There are also silver and bronze medals awarded at every championship race.
This June race was strictly a United States and Northern Hemisphere competition with vessels from Rhode Island, Florida, Washington D.C., California, Washington State, Vermont, Mexico, Conn, Maryland, Maine and South Carolina all competing with many vessels from New York. Some boats had additional crew members to rotate for each race and some sailed with as few as the same four in every race. Every crew gave their all no matter what situation they found themselves in. Yacht folk are very attuned to being courteous and sportsman-like during the challenge, on the dock, and when celebrating.
After the three intense days of racing that was broken up by a dinner social on that Saturday night, it came time to announce the winner who had been watched, timed and judged from the Sayville Yacht club Command Boat. The North American Perpetual Trophy was presented by Col. John McMurry to owner/skipper Keith Whittemore and his crew on Fureo. The Master Trophy went to Aiden Glackin of Mental Floss and the Youth Trophy went to Mike Stasko. The top Female Skipper was Katie Morgan of Quirky and the Kelly Trophy for best Sayville Yacht Club Finisher was awarded to Matthew Miranda of Outrageous.
The Sayville Yacht Club wishes to thank all the competitors, judges, Good Samaritan Hospital, and all its members for the success of this race. Long Island Boating World sends its congratulations to winners and competitors alike. Keep Sailing Alive!
All Photographs are Copyright 2021, all rights reserved by Rich Labella
They have been used with his gracious permission