J/109 E-News

Fall 2011

In This Issue
From the Prez
North American Winner's Report
North American Organizer's Report
Rules Amendments Proposed
Class Officer Elections
Upcoming Regattas
From the Editor

CNC headshotIn this issue we provide several perspectives from the recent North American Championship, as well as updates on class officer elections and proposed rules amendments. As always, we welcome your feedback, photos, and ideas for the next issue. 


Thanks to Dan Phelps of Spinsheet Magazine for the North Americans photos. Enjoy! -Carol Cronin 

From the Prez


rel headshot
Rick Lyall has been the class president since 2007.
Fellow J109 Class Members,


I suspect this will be the last letter I write to you as Class President. I served as Vice President from 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 to enjoying the times we have done well better than the times we haven't, but it's all been a learning experience.


I'd like to congratulate 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 J/109 North American Championship in October. Fleet 4 has had some experience running major class events by hosting the J/109 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!


At the awards ceremony 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.


North Americans 2011: Winner's Report

I didn't track down Ted Herlihy until a month after his third North American win. But he had no trouble remembering how much fun he'd had with his family crew in Annapolis.


"The fleet is very close. We won by the skin of our skinny skin skin, so it's not as if we win everything in the class. We only race one designs a couple times a year. The key was staying focused."


I asked him if he'd sailed with a family crew again, and he said "Of course. We always race as a family. My son Andy is our tactician; he does a lot of team racing and he tells me where to go: 'Dad, just shut up and drive the boat.' He's a great calming influence and keeps us on track. His wife Liz sails with us too, and my other son Dan does foredeck. Mike Gomes has been sailing with us for twenty years, and my two trimmers have been sailing with me for thirty years: Phil Fereira and Buzz Hiller. For this year we also had a local, Kyle Shattuck join us."


The family crew of GUT FEELING. Photo by Dan Phelps/Spinsheet


Racing as a family was great, he explained, because they all stayed together and enjoyed each other.

"We have this ongoing contest on our boat, 'Good to the Gut', where we rate who makes the best sandwich for the week. This year Phil won, but he brought in a ringer-his daughter came down just to make sandwiches. I won Block Island-the sandwich contest, at least. We didn't do very well in the actual racing. But it makes it fun-between races we have our sandwiches and critique each other."


In addition to racing, Ted enjoys cruising on his J/109. After the North Americans he headed over to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake with his wife, as far as St. Michaels. And they didn't even run aground.


"It's a great dual purpose boat," he explained. "Next spring we'll sail the NOOD, and then I'm thinking we might sail down to Richmond and Deltaville, where my son Dan lives. Maybe sail offshore from there to get the boat home."


I asked him how he got the boat to Annapolis.


"I sailed the boat down by myself in September. It's the first time we'd been that distance."


Big breeze and tight racing-a great championship. Photo by Dan Phelps/Spinsheet

And he felt it was definitely worth going down for the event.  "We had a great fleet of hard core racers and the race committee did a great job too. I haven't been to a regatta in several years where you don't have to sit, but they were right on the ball. And they communicated well with the sailors."


As for 2012, Herlihy is tentatively thinking of Block Island Race Week. "It would be fun, if I can find the time."






Ted Herlihy




Rick Lyall








Bill Sweetser




Craig Wright




Rick Hanson




Adrian Begley




Steve McManus




Eric Kamisher




Tony Syme




Jack Forehand




David Rosow




Sam Mitchener




Paul Milo




H. Alan Pike


Notes from the Organizer: Interview with Bill Sweetser

The 2011 North Americans was a bigger event than expected. According to Bill Sweetser, that's because the sales pitch started early in the year and didn't let up. The result was 15 boats on the line for the event-many from out of town, and six who'd never been to a national championship before.


"Our little working group didn't know much about how to organize a regatta," Bill explained. "We all like to race, but this taught us how challenging it is to run a good event. Having a whole bunch of happy skippers at the end was very satisfying."


When asked what the secret to success was, Bill had an immediate response.

"Attracting all those boats from out of town," he replied. "We started talking up the event last winter, and we really worked people hard at the Annapolis NOOD in late April and at Block Island Week in June. Once we got a few key people to commit like Ted (Herlihy), then we could encourage people to come race against the best."


Bill Sweetser and the team on RUSH finished 4th overall. Photo by Dan Phelps/Spinsheet


In addition to talking it up at regattas, Bill and his committee sent out emails (as personal as possible) listing some of the things they would be doing at the event.

"The goal was to make it friendly for the out of towners. We put all of the 109s together at Annapolis Yacht Club, and the slip price was include din the registration so no one had to find slips. We had a beer truck with three taps at the dock every afternoon, which promoted camaraderie. And we advertised the names of boat yards and bottom cleaners that we use, so it would be easier for people. That's what got the boats here."


Boats from all up and down the East Coast made the trek to Annapolis, where they were rewarded with great racing and also quite a bit of socializing that was included for the entire team in the regatta registration.


"We tried really hard to explain the rules (and the reasons for them) to the new skippers. We have to take them by the hand and lead them through it their first national championship, so they'll stick around and come back for more."


Many boats sailed wing and wing downwind instead of flying spinnakers. Photo by Dan Phelps/Spinsheet


The best thing about the regatta?   


"All the learning, and questions. There were guys who'd never raced at a national championship asking questions of Ted and his crew-they're now 3 time North American champions. Most of the newcomers were from our local fleet, but there were also some who traveled here and they really appreciated our trying to make it competitor friendly."


Amendments Proposed to Class Rules

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 J/109 website.

Regatta Preview: Quantum Key West Race Week 2012
Mark your calendars for January 15-20, 2012. While the Grand Prix boats may draw the headlines, the heart and soul of Key West Race Week is the one design and handicap classes that are present year after year. Come on down for the racing, the camaraderie, and some of that Florida sunshine.
Full Press Release 
Election of Class Officers: Nominating Committee
Middle Sea Race 2008
A crowded scene from the 2008 Middle Sea Race. For more photos, visit j109.org.

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 Class Measurer Adrian Begley 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.

Participation in Europe remains very strong and North American owners have stepped up to support the major regattas in the last year. The class is strong, but we need to identify a new set of officers to steer the next leg of its development.

We expect the Nominating Committee will complete their work in the next few weeks and send the Class 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 over the Treasurer's job from Rick Campeau earlier this year, will also stay on. As such, the Nominating Committee's efforts will be primarily directed at identifying a new President and Vice-President.

-Rick Lyall

This enewsletter was edited and produced for the J/109 Class Association by
Carol Newman Cronin of Live Wire.