John and Molly Baxter’s Team Vineyard Vines, along with crew Allan Terhune and Ben Lamb, bested 53 fellow J/70s to earn the title of 2020 J/70 Midwinter Champions. Biscayne Bay delivered its third consecutive day of epic conditions, as winds averaged 15-17 knots with blue skies. Three more races were completed for a total of eight, as Team Vineyard Vines won two of three on Sunday. Day two leader Ignacio Perez’s Zaguero suffered a BFD in race seven, and was overtaken by Joel Ronning’s Catapult and Ryan McKillen’s Surge, who finished second and third overall, respectively. In the end, the Baxters tallied 27 net points, two better than Ronning. McKillen finished with 37 net points. In the 12-boat Corinthian division, team Eker Kaymak of Turkey with Ahmet Eker, Burak Zengin, Bilge Kerem Ozkan and Yasar Doga Aribas claimed victory. Zachary Segal’s USA1154 and Andrew Fisher’s Button Fly followed. Team Vineyard Vines is based out of Long Island Sound, and they have recently excelled in heavier air, including placing fourth at the breezy 2019 North American Championship in Cleveland, OH (the last J/70 event they had raced). Reflecting on the final day’s strategy, which they started in fourth place, John Baxter said, “There were a lot of teams that were in the top group. Our strategy was to sail clean, get off the line and go straight. Although we weren’t winning right off the line, we chipped away. We were really quick downwind, and then at times we were fast upwind. We were able to hold lanes, which we used to not be able to do, and now we’ve kind of figured it out.”
Top Five Overall:
- Team Vineyard Vines, John Baxter, USA – 6 -3 - -9 -3 -1 -4 -1 ; 27
- Catapult, Joel Ronning, USA – 1 -1 -4 -7 -5 -3 -8 - ; 29
- Surge, Ryan McKillen, USA – 12 -6 -2 -1 - -5 -5 -6 ; 37
- Zaguero, Ignacio Perez, MEX – 3 -4 -1 -2 -1 -7 - -30 ; 48
- Empeiria, John Heaton, USA – 7 -2 - -13 -2 -8 -17 -2 ; 51
Besides the USA, seven other nations competed, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Great Britain, Mexico and Turkey. Photos are available on the USA J/70 Class Facebook page, and complete results may be found at https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eid=9692.