Apr 28 2017

North U J/109 Starting Clinic at BIRW

North SailsThere will be a J/109 Starting Clinic held Sunday, June 18, 2017 – the day before the North American Championship starts at Block Island Race Week.

The Storm Trysail Club Race Committee will be calling the practice starts for the North U Starting Clinic on Sunday, June 18 to be conducted by North U Director Bill Gladstone – using the on-the-water schedule in the attached PDF “J/109 Starting Clinic at 2017 BIRW” of Clinic details. The Clinic will have 12 practice starts. This will give us the best possible practice for the starting challenges we’ll face on Monday. Videography will be from a support boat and from a drone stationed about 150 feet up, off to one side of the line, to give us excellent views of all the boats. The videos will be reviewed with Bill Gladstone after practice and available to all participants for use in preparing for future regattas.

Bill Gladstone will email two documents to those registered for the Clinic: Starting Techniques for Big Fleets; and Clinic Drills and Procedures. On Sunday morning, June 18, Bill will hold a whiteboard discussion (attendance not required) of big fleet starting tips and techniques, and describe his plans for the afternoon’s on-the-water practice.

Bill, the author of the North U Racing Trim, and North U Racing Tactics books, is well suited to conduct this Clinic. He’s taught sailing and racing for over forty years. Thousands of sailors are graduates of his seminars.

Consider registering now for this Clinic. You and your crew will receive Bill’s Starting Techniques for Big Fleets; and Clinic Drills and Procedures by Wednesday, June 14. This will give skippers and crews time to study them before practice – things get busy before a big regatta. You can click this link to register: www.NorthU.com with a single $175 fee per boat before 11 June, and $225 per boat thereafter. You don’t have to list all your crew members – you can forward Bill’s documents when you get them. Many of us know the devastating consequences of a bad start in a large one design fleet. The more J/109s registered for the Clinic, and the more homework done before practice, the more effective the training will be for everyone.

  • Pre-Brief 10:00 – 11:00
  • Sailing 12:30 – 3:30
  • Debrief 4:30 – 6:00


– Clinic Plan & Info to be distributed via email.

10:00 – 11:00 Pre-Brief at BI Maritime Center
A Pre-Brief will be held at Block Island Maritime Center. Clinic Plan & Info to be distributed via email in the weeks prior.

12:30-3:30 On the Water

– 3 Rolling 5 minute starts.
– Start 1: Hold lane, race to ladder rung (~1 min)
– Start 2: Hold lane, race to ladder rung (~1 min)
– Start 3: ~ 10 minute Windward Leeward Race
Finish with leeward gate rounding

REPEAT this “3 Rolling Starts” 4 times for a total of 12 starts.
– On-the-Water Coaches will provide live feedback over VHF between races
– We will also be shooting video for later review

4:30-6:00 (Optional) Debrief and Video Review at BI Maritime Center (Next to Dead Eye Dick’s)

– Review Video
– Observations
– Q & A

The clinic will be conducted by North U Director Bill Gladstone and other North U Regatta Services Coaches.

Fee: $175 per boat before 11 June, $225 per boat thereafter

Registration: Sign Up at www.NorthU.com or by calling Fran or Bill at North U: 203 245-0727

Apr 06 2017

2018 & 2019 North American Championships Scheduled

The J/109 Class is pleased to announce that the 2018 North American Championship will be hosted by Larchmont Yacht Club –  Larchmont, NY 10-14 October 2018, and the 2019 North American Championship will be hosted by New Bedford Yacht Club – New Bedford, MA 20-24 August 2019.  Our North American Championship will be a stand alone event for both of these.  Bottom line – we received 9 quality proposals where any club responding could have hosted a quality event!  Read on for the details…

The Class asked J/109 Fleet Captains in the fall of 2016 to contact clubs in their respective areas and determine which might be interested in hosting the NAs.  Those clubs identified were sent a Regatta Expression of Interest by the Class Secretary in December 2016.  This document provided J/109 Class North American Championship expectations for all aspects (racing, social, logistics). Clubs that responded with “Interest” were eligible to proceed to the solicitation phase.  The Class Secretary issued the Request for Proposal in January to eleven clubs.  At the same time the J/109 Board was solicited to obtain volunteers who would assist evaluating proposals once received.  Representatives from the following fleet areas agreed to evaluate proposals; New Jersey, Long Island Sound, New England & Maritimes.  Proposals were received in early March from nine clubs from the following fleet areas: Texas & Gulf Coast, New England & Maritimes, and Long Island Sound.  The evaluating committee reviewed each of the proposals individually and then shared their evaluation scores.  A conference call was held to discuss the evaluations and reach consensus for selecting the 2018 and 2019 NA host clubs.  There were no significant discrepancies in the scoring, thus fairly easy for the evaluators to reach consensus and pick the winners for 2018 and 2019.

The Class determined that those clubs that submitted proposals would be recognized by the class and consideration given to scheduling regional and local events at those clubs.  Additionally, the Class is working toward scheduling a Midwinter Championship in late 2018 or early 2019 at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, TX.  More information will be available as we work the planning for this event.


Larchmont YC

Larchmont YC – 2018 J/109 North American Championship

New Bedford YC

New Bedford YC – 2019 J/109 North American Championship

Feb 13 2017

Jib Car Purchase Adjustment Rules Change Passed

J/109 Class AssociationClass members voted overwhelmingly to allow the class rules change with voting closed at noon 13 February 2017.  The proposed rule change posted on the forum was brought by the Technical Committee to the Executive Board, with a ballot mailed to all eligible voting members on 13 January .

To obtain full advantage of the recently approved in hauling rule, it would be beneficial to increase the power ratio of the jib car adjusters to allow adjustments in medium/heavy air. JBoats have indicated that if the J/109 were designed recently it would be specified with a 6:1 adjustment and with in haulers. As an example, a very simple change to the existing class legal 4:1 adjusters is to add a 2:1 cascade between the forward turning block mounted on the track and the existing cleat, creating a 8:1 adjustment (not suitable for overlapping jibs). The system is not permitted to be operated or rigged to the windward side. More information and pictures are available on the Class Forum.

The change adds this new new paragraph to the Class Rules effective 1 March 2017:
4.3.17 The maximum power ratio of the jib lead adjusters permitted is 8:1. This can be done by adding sheaves to existing tackle or, adding a 2:1 cascade to the existing 4:1 tackle. The jib lead adjustment line must use the existing cheek block and jib lead cleat on the same side as the jib car it adjusts.

Feb 09 2017

BoatUS Discount for J/109 Owners

Boat USJ/109 Class Association is a BoatUS Cooperating Group and members are invited to join or renew their BoatUS members at a 50% discount.  The J/109 Class Association Cooperating Group number is GA85182S.

BoatUS membership benefits include:

  • 24/7 Dispatch to over 600 towboats in 300+ ports nationwide
  • Assistance from Expert Captains
  • Available boat insurance from boating experts with 24/7 claims service
  • Discounts at Marinas and highest level of shopping rewards at West Marine Stores
  • Subscription to BoatUS Magazine and much more

Click this link to renew BoatUS membership and use the Cooperating Group # GA85182S


Click this link to join BoatUS and use the Cooperating Group # GA85182S


Feb 07 2017

AYC Spring Series with discount for Fall Series!

The American Yacht Club Spring/Fall Series registration is open!

Competitors can save $100 by entering both spring & fall regattas and paying the fee prior to April 26th.

Registration Link

NOR Link

Who is racing?


 The AYC Fall Series is a Qualifying Event for the East Coast Regatta Series Trophy

Jan 13 2017

Proposed Rules Change on Jib Car Adjustment Purchase

A ballot mailed on 13 January to all Voting Members contains the proposed rule change brought by the Technical Committee to the Executive Board for review and comment. The Executive Board approved proceeding to vote the following, with Executive Board comments incorporated.

To get the full advantage of the recently approved in hauling rule, it would be beneficial to increase the power ratio of the jib car adjusters to allow adjustments in medium/heavy air. JBoats have indicated that if the J/109 were designed recently it would be specified with a 6:1 adjustment and with in haulers. As an example, a very simple change to the existing class legal 4:1 adjusters is to add a 2:1 cascade between the forward turning block mounted on the track and the existing cleat, creating a 8:1 adjustment (not suitable for overlapping jibs). The system is not permitted to be operated or rigged to the windward side. More information and pictures are available on the Class Forum.

Proposed Rule adds new paragraph:
4.3.17 The maximum power ratio of the jib lead adjusters permitted is 8:1. This can be done by adding sheaves to existing tackle or, adding a 2:1 cascade to the existing 4:1 tackle. The jib lead adjustment line must use the existing cheek block and jib lead cleat on the same side as the jib car it adjusts.

Who may vote? A Voting Member as defined in section 3.0 of the class constitution shall be a legal owner or one designated legal owner in the case of a boat with more than one legal owner, such that each registered boat shall have one Voting Member. Each Voting Member shall have one vote.  Voting Members maintain membership by paying annual membership dues and by complying with the J/109 Class Association Constitution and J/109 Class Rules.  Note – if you desire to vote on the rules changes and are not a current year member, please go to the class website, update your membership and pay your current year dues.  Voting members who payed previous year class dues will be allowed to vote through 31 March of the following year.

When may I Vote? All current members will be sent an email no later than 13 January 2017 notifying them that the official ballot is available.  Voting is available online through noon 13 February 2017, at which time the results will be validated and tallied by the J/109 Class Secretary.

When would the change be effective? Should the proposed change be approved by the class, the change would be incorporated in the class rules effective 1 March 2017.

Jan 13 2017

Profiling J/109 Sweet Caroline

Sweet Caroline

In 2015 the Long Island Sound based “Sweet Caroline” crew sailed the 143 NM Seaflower Reef course of the Vineyard Race and earned a first.

Chris Ercole and his wife purchased Sweet Caroline in February 2013. The 35-foot J/109, with beam 11.5 feet, carbon fiber retractable bowsprit, asymmetric spinnaker system and 7-foot keel, can easily move the boat during relaxed journeys through the Long Island Sound with just four crew; six or seven are required for racing round the buoys.

When it came time to staff up for season one of racing, Chris decided he’d rather train and develop a more novice set of individuals–as opposed to lure away other racers. Sweet Caroline talent depth and breadth was recruited outside the usual sailing channels: via referrals and invitations.

A Good Crew is Developed
Chris feels that a good crew is not found; it is developed. “I can teach skills, but I cannot teach a person to be cool. Personality fit is a must.” He assessed the disposition of each candidate before inviting aboard. Crew average age is 35, and each holds down a full time job. Diversity reigns: supply chain engineers, a podiatrist and a recent university graduate to name a few.
“Recruiting outside of routine sailing circles has given me a more reliable program, and a higher psychic pay-off. I know that taking someone under your wing may be risky, but I am willing to invest. I’ve been able to attract some great crew members.” One referral was a young man who had not before been on a boat. “In a single season Brian has developed to become our go-to spinnaker trimmer. A second rising star is Minna, who grew up sailing Laser boats. While there’s a difference between sailing a Laser and a larger keel boat, I don’t think her previous big boat crew was maximizing her talents. She got latitude on Sweet Caroline and this has paid off; she now serves as our mainsail trimmer and tactician.”

Ayme Sinclair, who has 2.5 years sail cred under her belt plus an ASA certificate, is another add. Prior to Sweet Caroline, her sailpertise came from time onboard Sonars. “Sailing on a Sonar is a very analog experience, and because of that I was starting to get a little discouraged. When a coworker offered an invitation to join during one of his crew’s evening races I jumped.” Turns out Sweet Caroline was on the water that night, so a fortuitous post-race introduction to skipper Chris was all it took for Ayme to step to larger racing boat.

The Sweet Training and Development Life
With an ambitious crew gathered, developing as a unit was next. Says Chris, “During year one I opted to run practice sessions on Wednesday nights—instead of competing in local races.” Working with his somewhat novice crew proved a positive, yet sometimes, challenging practice. As the most sail-educated person onboard, Chris realized that it was not easy to steer the boat and observe/train. The solution: enlist a peer to helm.

Whereas some skippers opt to rotate individuals through all roles on a boat, Chris finds it beneficial to build depth by keeping a person in place for awhile.

Says Ayme, “At the start I had a single simple role. I focused on that, but soon began to understand that more time on a boat would help me bring an A-game to race nights. Heeding his suggestion, I started sailing additional nights, racing with another crew on a smaller boat at different club. This helped me improve understanding of how to operate the sails in order to speed up a boat based on wind direction. My other skipper used a video camera to capture our time on the water, so watching the footage definitely helped me correct some of my mistakes too.”

What Ayme likes about Chris is his decisiveness plus ability to share the game plan. “He asks for feedback post-race and takes everything very seriously. He listens to the crew and, when needed, makes necessary adjustments. We can’t move the boat if the seven of us aren’t in sync; it takes an incredible amount of communication and camaraderie to keep winning races. I’m very impressed with how clear he is in his calls and directions.”

For 2016, Chris registered to compete on Wednesday nights—letting the course serve as playgrounds for practice. “Each race offered a chance to tune, learn and seek ways to improve. We’d also head out early and run drills to dial-in (both weekends and evenings). One of the most fruitful training tasks was to invite a local sail maker onboard to observe and offer critique,” he adds, asserting that post-race discussions were a must too. Additional development carried over to knot a lot–especially the bowline. Says Ayme, “Early on I was given a 10 knot test, and I still know how to pretty much do all of them—a learned survival skills that may save a life if ever get in a pinch.”

Sweet Caroline Skipper Christopher Ercole

Owner/skipper Chris Ercole and his wife purchased the boat with the intent to race as well as cruise the J/109 boat.

Going Dinghy Off Season
With winter in full force on the LI Sound at the moment (January), boats are on the hard and wrapped up tight. Chris uses this time for personal training. “Dinghy racing offers an unbelievable way to sharpen skills. There is no better way to improve upon boat handling, and increase knowledge of sail dynamics, than manning a small boat solo or aside just one other person. The J/109 is an easy boat to sail fast, and it performs well in this area under the PHRF handicap. However, the local one-design fleet is very competitive and the crew is still getting up to speed. We are always training and looking to improve, and I am always tweaking the rig for improvements. I normally adjust the rig before every race, pending conditions. Two seasons ago I started keeping a journal with different rig tunes and how the boat performed.”

For local sailors, the season runs late April to early October. That equates to Wednesday night beer can and Friday evening action within Glen Cove harbor for Sweet sailors. In spring 2017, the crew will kick off with the opener hosted by the American Yacht Club in Rye, New York. Up for weekend regattas consideration are the 143 NM Vineyard Race, the Block Island Race Week, J/109 Nationals, plus various regional one-design match-ups where 10 to 15 J/Boats are usually on the line.

He’s Sweet on Caroline
It’s true that the boat sees ample race action, but Chris is quick to remind that Sweet Caroline also underpins much of the family’s summer social life. “She’s a great racer as well as coastal cruiser–fast with an easy motion in the short steep chop that we can encounter on the Sound.” For that end, Chris has added a dodger, pressure hot water and 12-volt refrigeration. The boat can carry 70 gallons of fresh water, which makes for comfortable two-week cruises. Eight opening ports and two opening hatches allow plenty of ventilation. He calls attention to an LP oven and stove top on a gimbal, plus the large head with shower. There is also a shower on the swim platform.

Adds Chris, “Some of the things that make her a great racer also help with cruising. The cockpit is easy to maneuver in but also allows for bracing yourself when the weather picks up. I also like that the Yanmar diesel is quiet and smooth. Sweet will easily cruise at 7 knots.”

This article is credited to Martha Blanchfield and originally published on Renegade Sailing at this link.

Nov 23 2016

Meet Jim Goldberg, Member at Large

junkyard-dogJim Goldberg has been named as the Member at Large on the J/109 Executive Board to serve in 2017-2018.  His responsibilities are included below, followed by a brief introduction where you can learn about Jim and his First Mate Lana.

The Member at Large shall serve as an ambassador for the class, reaching out to existing and potential new class members. Without limiting the access of the members to any member of the Executive Board, the Member at Large shall be an agent of the membership in expressing specific opinions on any matter affecting the Class to the board, in the role as an ombudsman. Members should feel free to express their opinions privately to the Member at Large. The Member at Large shall use judgement to determine the most appropriate means to communicate those opinions to the Executive Board and to the larger membership so that those members who desire anonymity may freely express opinions. The Member at Large shall be conversant on the class rules and at the request of the Class Measurer be able to support measurement and interpret class rules when necessary at events and between events. The Member at Large may use the class website and similar tools to facilitate communications, and shall support Executive Board Meetings and Annual Meetings with reports as may be required.

Meet Jim!
Lana and I have been sailing in the San Francisco Bay area for the last 10 years. A couple years ago we started the search for that ever elusive and difficult to find race boat which could also be comfortably taken on extended cruising trips double handed. About a year ago we bought our J/109 Junkyard Dog and without a doubt it has filled both roles perfectly. This past year was our first year racing Junkyard Dog and we while we started off with some growing pains as we learned a new boat by the end we finished strong with a 3rd place overall in the San Francisco “YRA Ocean Series”. This next season Lana, myself and the entire “Dog Pound” crew hope to build from what we learned in our first year with plans to again race in the “YRA Ocean Series” as well as the “California Offshore Race Week”. I’m very excited and looking forward to serving both the class members and board in any way I can as the Member at Large. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns and be sure to look us up if you’re ever in the San Francisco Bay area!

Jim’s email contact information is at.large@j109.org and will be listed on the Class Officers page when the new Executive Board takes the helm in January 2017.

Nov 17 2016

Results from 2016 Annual Meeting

J/109 Class AssociationThe J/109 Class held its 2016 annual meeting in New York City on 26 October.  The minutes of the meeting are posted on the class website at this link.  Subsequent to the annual meeting the Executive Board held a teleconference on 17 November to address some near term actions and is documented in the conference call minutes at this link.  The following information is posted for all class members to read:

  1. Discussion continued from the annual meeting on potentially limiting participation of Category 3 sailors participating in the 2017 North American Championship resulted in no change to class rule 2.3 as written.
  2. It was agreed that requirements for the Corinthian Trophy to be awarded at the 2017 North American Championship will be the boat sailing with no Category 3 sailors that finishes with the best series score.
  3. The Class Secretary will be working through the Fleet Captains to solicit inputs on where the 2018 and 2019 North American Championships will be held.  Plans are to issue a request of “interest / no-interest” to yacht clubs identified by the Fleet Captains, which will be followed by a “Request for Proposal” to those yacht clubs expressing interest.  The Executive board will evaluate all proposals submitted and choose the location of these North American Championships.
  4. The new Class Measurer has formed a technical committee per Class Constitution 6.11.  This group is evaluating a number of items posted on the rules discussion section of the forum and will post decisions reached.  The group will also update the measurement checklist that is used at the North American Championship and has committed to having this available on the class website no later than 15 March 2017.
  5. The East Coast Championship will be the Cedar Point One Design Regatta 2-4 June 2017.
  6. The 2017 East Coast Regatta Series has been scheduled with 3 events.  To qualify for the series you must sail in the J/109 North American Championship at Block Island Race Week, plus one of the other events listed.  The list of qualifying events is as follows:

– J/109 NAs at Block Island Race Week – the mandatory event (18-23 June 2017)

– New England J/Fest at Sail Newport (12, 13 August 2017)

– American YC Fall Series at AYC (23 – 24 September, 30 September – 1 October 2017)

Oct 27 2016

Don Dwyer & J/109 Guardian J featured in WindCheck Magazine

Don DwyerDon Dwyer was featured in the September 2016 On Watch section of WindCheck Magazine. Don tells about his J/109 Guardian J, family, crew, and friends.   Read the article below from WindCheck Magazine with the original published at this link.

Don Dwyer isn’t exactly new to sailing, although his path to becoming an avid sailor is somewhat unique, as is his approach. “I grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut, only 20 minutes from the water, but somehow sailing was never something I thought about,” says Don. Having lived in the Midwest for 20 years, he and his family returned to Connecticut a few years ago and settled on the shoreline. “We live in Guilford and keep our J/109 Guardian J at Brewers Bruce & Johnson’s Marina in Branford,” says Don, who is enjoying his fourth boat, three of which were purchased in succession over the past three years!

“It’s funny it took so long to become a sailor,” Don continues. “We actually bought a Capri 14.2 in 1989 when we lived here, but then I got transferred. The only time that boat got wet was when it rained trailering it whenever we moved! We finally auctioned it off at a charity event. We didn’t think about becoming sailors until we moved back. My oldest son Doc suggested we learn to sail. We always enjoyed sports together, such as skiing, golf, climbing, running and flying [Don is a co-owner of Guardian Jet, one of the larger corporate jet brokerages in the world, based on the Green in Guilford, CT.] He wanted to sail, so he, my son Chris, my wife Jan and I took a weekend of lessons together. Doc and I bought a Hunter 27 because we thought we needed a boat to accelerate our learning. Doc and I were flight instructors at one point in our careers, and we were amazed at the lack of structure to the learning process. After a weekend of poor instruction, it was basically: buy a boat and have at it.”

Looking for ways to make their learning experience as efficient as possible, Don and Jan signed up for a week at J World in Key West. “When we started, we felt like we had to be proactive in searching solutions for our desired pace of learning,” he explains. “I know now there are a ton of resources out there but it wasn’t apparent or even clearly defined for us when we started.”

“It was great starting the first year with an older boat because with the minimal investment it was okay to bounce it off docks as we all learned. The second year, we bought a Pearson 33.2. It was a great boat, but whenever we raced we’d do well at the start and watch all the other boats walk away from us.”

“Our big leap came when I met [WindCheck Contributing Editor] Joe Cooper at a Safety at Sea seminar. We had sailed for a season, and had just bought the Pearson, and were thinking of racing. Joe came on board to get us up to speed on safety first, then taught us the skills to participate in regattas. Our goal was to get ready for last year’s Block Island Race Week. We trained all spring and early summer with Coop, and competed in the regatta. Coop is still our coach. I consider him a great sailor but more importantly, a gifted teacher, good friend and trusted advisor.”

After Block Island Race Week last year, we started looking for a boat better suited to racing. The J/109 is perfect for us. I can race with a full crew, and it’s an easy boat for Jan and me to daysail or cruise. A good light wind boat is not a bad idea for our part of the Sound, so we got the 109 just in time for the Vineyard Race last year and we are having a ball with it.”

“When I wanted to get into ocean racing, I joined Essex Yacht Club and was lucky enough to meet Frank Flores, who has done seven or eight Bermuda races on his Alden 44 Checkmate. Frank invited me to race with him to Bermuda. He is a great skipper and program leader. His love and devotion to seamanship is contagious and I have learned tons by being a part of his crew. We trained through the winter and spring, either by working on the boat, sailing Ideal 18s for crew coordination or sailing Checkmate. We were one of the 50 or so boats that pulled out on the day of the race because of the forecast, but the training was one of the best experiences of my life.”

“Currently, I race with my extended family. We are extremely lucky that they live nearby, and Jan and I are taking full advantage. The racing community is very supportive. We feel welcome everywhere we go. The Wednesday night league in Branford is a ball, and if I have a question there are a bunch of skippers who jump in and help. We have also enlisted the help of North Sails since buying the J/109. Jack Orr [a member of the sales team at North Sails East] has been fantastic in getting the boat to go fast, setting it up, and teaching us how to trim. My only excuse now is my ability!”

“For me, the most important lesson so far is to be the architect of your experience. If you are open and honest about your experience level, it is amazing how many people in this sport and industry will help,” says Don. “I’m not big on giving advice, but I would say to someone looking for a way to keep doing stuff with the family, racing sailboats is amazing. If I said to the kids, who all have very busy lives, ‘Let’s go sailing Sunday,’ I’m not sure who would show up. But racing means we get together a lot.”

Don recounts, “We had friends visiting from Kansas who did the Essex Rum Challenge with us. I was sitting on the rail with my buddy, who remarked about how much fun I was having. I looked around the boat, and the entire crew was my extended family and friends. That’s the best part!”

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