For the first two days of the regatta, the thirty-two-boat fleet had to sit tight due to the 30-35 kt winds and thunderstorms. In short, it was nastier than anyone could imagine, and Lake Ponchartrain is notorious for whipping up a ginormous 4-6 ft “washing machine” chop that bashes against the breakwater and back onto the race course, creating “freak waves” that often crest higher than 10 feet! Proof of the pudding? One overly adventuresome J/22 gave it a try and sank on the lake- an easy rescue since it’s only 5 feet deep!
Surviving on Sunday to tell the story and collect the J/22 Midwinter Championship award was none other than the very popular Youngstown Yacht Club team from Youngstown, NY- MO’MONEY sailed by Kevin Doyle, Vic Snyder and Aaron Snyder! Their tally in the three race series was a 4-3-1 for 8 pts. Travis Odenbach’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM from Rochester YC in Rochester, NY secured second place with 16 points from their 5-8-3 record. And, Matt Thompson’s UNDERDOG from Wayzata YC in Wayzata, MY took third with 17 points due to their 12-1-4 tally.
Going into the final race, the Doyle/Snyder team held a one-point advantage over Kevin’s brother Chris Doyle on THE JUG 4 1. “We had a great start in the middle of the line with no one around us, and we launched in front of the fleet,” explained Kevin Doyle. “We kept touch with Chris, but mostly, we just sailed ultra conservative. The winds were fluky in direction and velocity all day.”
Doyle and Snyder have been racing MO’MONEY for more than 20 years, previously with Kevin’s son Jake and now with Vic’s son Aaron. When asked what has kept him in the J/22 Class for so many years, Doyle replied, “Number one, the J/22 is a great boat, and number two is the people! Actually, those two are interchangeable. Good boats attract good people. And number three, we race in cool and folksy places.”
Rounding out the top five were Mike Schmidt’s EN FUEGO, another refugee from the frozen north in Wayzata, MN, taking 4th place, and Terry Flynn’s TEJAS from Fort Worth Boat Club in Fort Worth, Texas holding on for fifth place. Top local team from host Southern YC was Tommy Meric’s USA 1024.
Amongst the five women skippers in the regatta (16% of the fleet!), the top three were Anne Lee’s HELMS-A-LEE from Houston YC, then Louise Bienvenu’s USA 320 from New Orleans YC, and third was Jessica Oswald’s MUSKRAT LOVE, also from NOYC. For more J/22 Midwinter Championship sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.