Fellow J109 Class Members,
I have a lot of ground to cover here so please bear with me and I will try not to take too much of your time.
First, congratulations to Fleet Captain Bill Sweetser and the members of the Fleet 4 Task Force (Tony Syme, Paul Milo and Steve McManus) for the absolutely outstanding job they did hosting the 2011 J109 North American Championship in October. Fleet 4 has had some experience running major class events by hosting the J109 fleet at the Annapolis NOOD regattas the last two years but hosting a North American Championship is a much higher level of difficulty. Bill and his team coordinated efforts with Annapolis Yacht Club to put on a first class four-day event that included excellent race management on the water and lively social events off the water. We would like to thank Jaguar Land Rover Annapolis for their incredibly generous support as our name sponsor as well as J Boats, Quantum Sail Design Group, North Sails, Sebago, Fawcett Boat Supplies, Land Shark Lager and Sailing World magazine for their contributions to this very successful event. We’d also like to thank Annapolis Yacht Club for hosting us and providing the use of their facilities. We deeply appreciate the work of regatta manager Linda Ambrose, Chip Thayer, PRO Wayne Bretsch and all the volunteers at AYC that made this a great event. I’d like to also congratulate Ted Herlihy and his all-amateur crew aboard Gut Feeling on their THIRD North American Championship! Well Done!
Now on to Class business: First, let me remind you that the Executive Committee has proposed three amendments to the Class Rules and Constitution. You will be asked to vote on these amendments in the very near future and if a majority of the members support them, they will go into effect in 2012. The first amendment is to Section 7 of the Class Constitution allowing the Executive Board to convene special meetings during the year to consider proposals for changes to Class Rules. While we appreciate the stability of the Class Rules, it became apparent that the current Constitution’s requirement that these proposals only be considered once each year are a bit limiting so we thought added flexibility would be beneficial. The second amendment recognizes ISAF’s elimination of Group 2 sailors by removing references to Group 2 competitors in Class rules. The third amendment allows skippers to change jibs or spinnakers at will while racing. As you know, the current rules require skippers to designate a jib and spinnaker for the day. A substitute sail can only be used if the original suffers substantial damage. This change reflects feedback from owners that they would like greater flexibility in protecting their investment in sail inventories to adapt to changing weather conditions. The full details of these changes can be found in the Documents section of the Class website (J109.org) via the link 8/1/2011 – August 1, 2011 – Proposed Class Constitution and Rules Changes.
The next topic is election of Class officers. I have written previously about the need to identify a new set of officers to steer the class on the next leg of its development. We are pleased that participation in Europe remains very strong and that North American owners have stepped up to support the major regattas in the last year. The class is strong but it could benefit from the energy and ideas of a new set of leaders. 2011 is an election year and the Class Constitution requires the Executive Committee to name a Nominating Committee to develop a slate of officers for consideration by the membership. Bill Sweetser, Captain of Fleet 4 volunteered to chair this committee and Adrian Begley, your Class Measurer also agreed to serve. Given that these gentlemen are members of the Executive Board, we needed to identify three additional members to fill out the committee. We were pleased when Ted Herlihy from Fleet 6 (and the reigning North American champion), Jack Toliver from Fleet 11 (Southern Lake Michigan) and Dave Dack, former Fleet Captain of Fleet 1 (Pacific Northwest) volunteered to serve on the committee. We expect the Nominating Committee will complete their work in the next few weeks and the Class will have a new slate of officers to consider. Class Secretary Ed Dailey has agreed to run for re-election and Bob Schwartz, who has done an admirable job taking on the Treasurer’s job from Rick Campeau earlier this year, will also stay on. As such, the Nominating Committee efforts will be primarily directed at identifying a new President and Vice-President.
I suspect this will be the last letter I write to you as Class President. I served as Vice President for one year 2006-2007 and have been President the last four years. During this time I have had the pleasure of hearing your feedback and interacting with many of you, both on and off the water. I have learned a great deal about the organizational aspects of sailing, and had the pleasure of working with some of the premier organizing authorities in the US such as New York Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, Chicago Yacht Club, Larchmont Yacht Club, American Yacht Club, Breakwater Yacht Club and Annapolis Yacht Club. I’ve had the opportunity to compete against some terrific skippers and crews and have enjoyed every minute. Well, I admit enjoying the times we have done well better than the times we haven’t, but it’s all been a learning experience. At this year’s North American Championship I was honored with a beautiful Weems & Plath clock with the inscription The J/109 Class Recognizes the Outstanding Contributions of Rick Lyall During His Service as Class President 2006-2011. I’d like to say Thank You! to Fleet 4 for the honor and to all of you for the support over the last several years. I encourage all of you to remain active in the Class and support the slate of officers that succeed me.