Inside the Class: J/22

In the J/22 fleet, the Doyle family sizes up the competition within the class, and within the family.

The Doyle family is no stranger to the J/22 class. Brothers Kevin and Chris Doyle from Youngstown, NY, have impressive class credentials: Kevin is the reigning Midwinter champion, and Chris took home a J/22 World Championship title in 2015.

This weekend at the 2017 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Annapolis, the two brothers are facing off not just against each other, but also against Kevin’s son Jake, an Annapolis local who brings with him years of experience sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

For the Doyle family, the J/22 has always been a family favorite.

“Growing up, that’s what we all sailed. It’s the boat I learned to sail on,” Jake explains. For years, the J/22 has been the class of choice for Kevin, Chris and Jake. “It’s a really good bunch of people, they have fun and the boats are really fun to sail.”

The Doyles may be confident in their J/22 experience, but they’re still aware of the challenges this weekend. The fleet is filled with plenty of tough competition, including multiple world champions, national champions and NOOD Regatta winners are all on the line battling for the top spot.

“There’s a lot of good people here this week,” says Jake, talking about the strong showing in the Doyle family’s class of choice. “For me, I’m really interested in sailing against my dad Kevin and uncle, Chris. If I can sail around those guys I’ll be pretty happy.”

The challenge of the weekend, for Jake, is not just sailing off against his family, it’s also working with a new crew.

“It’s the first time we have sailed together as a unit. We’re going to focus on fundamentals – good clean starts, looking for low density on the line,” he explains. “Let the boat do the hark work.”

But the Chesapeake isn’t making things easy.

“It’s an an unusual weather system we have,” says Jake, familiar with Annapolis’ unpredictable sailing conditions. “Local knowledge probably isnt going to pan out how it usually does. “

With three races down, Jake and Kevin have been making the conditions work. The father-son duo is separated by just one point, finishing day two in third and fourth, respectively. Sunday’s forecast will bring similar conditions, and a day full of exciting racing as the Doyles fights for bragging rights at the next family dinner.

To view photos from today's racing, click here.