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Inaugural Great J/24 Jacuzzi Rio Run Cruise

When the J/24 was introduced in 1976, the brochure featured shots of the four-berth interior as part of its appeal as a family racer/cruiser. The local J/24 fleet submitted the following about their Rio Vista cruise, demonstrating the always-competitive nature of racer/cruisers.

A rally to Rio Vista somehow involved sailing with double spinnakers

It was a Dark ’n’ Stormys kinda night when the newest boat owner in the Bay Area J/24 fleet shared a bit about his family history and mentioned: “My family has a house on the Sacramento Delta. It has an excellent Jacuzzi.” Nonchalant Foredeck replied: “I bet we could sail there, if the tides were right.” Rational Foredeck added, “This will answer the question that no one was asking: What happens when you mix a handful of J/24 racers, a summer cruise-out and tequila?” Madman’s ice clinks against his teeth. “Brilliant! 46 miles of downwind sailing. Make it so!”

Casting off at 9 a.m. on a misty Bay Area 4th of July, Madman hoists his 4-ft banner in support of the Dutch Women’s Soccer team (and said banner promptly wraps around the head of the mast, later requiring The Newbie to be hoisted to retrieve it before the boat and crew can dock at the end of the day and partake in fruity rum drinks). Not to be vexed, the vexillologist executes multiple flag-unfurling maneuvers, hoists additional flags to buoy the spirits of the entangled one, and finally decides napping is the better part of valor and goes belowdecks for nap #1 of the day. Nonchalant Foredeck, suddenly aft of the mast, gulps and holds the tiller.

Later, somewhere in the vicinity of Sherman Island

Enjoying the warming breeze and de-layering crew, Madman says, “I’ve been thinking about a thong.” Butter & Thongs is the tentative name for our host’s new-to-him J/24, based on a pinchy talking crab video that has become a constant meme about pinching to windward, so the assumption was he was thinking about logo design.

“No, not that,” he clarified. “I mean that Max Ebb article where Lee Helm talks about a ‘thong line’ going down the middle of the spinnaker to make it more stable. I’ve been wondering what it would be like to hoist two symmetrical kites. It seems like it would be a similar shape but on a larger scale.”

A short time later, Rational Foredeck replies: “I’d like to go on record that this is a Bad Idea.”

Nonchalant Foredeck adds, “It’s your boat. I’m just holding this sheet and this guy, which are connected to different sails.”

Madman says, “Oh, I think I have a Jazz Cup flag I can hoist too.”

One would think dropping the main would be key to instantly filling the leeward of the two spinnakers while dead downwind, and one would be right. The problem is that the Dutch soccer flag is so stuck in the mechanisms that the main will only go down six feet.

Turns out, that was enough.

While a proud, full, double-breasted spinnaker can be seen from in front, the slouchy main is seen from the back; nonetheless, it works.

Double breasted J-24 spinnaker
The J/24 Butter & Thongs goes to full hoist with two spinnakers.

Two spinnaker poles are deployed, one on each side, but the crack team soon realizes the starboard pole can be dismissed. The port kite clew is secured to the foredeck D-ring with a sail tie; the starboard kite’s tack is flown off the pulpit with another sail tie. A single guy on the port kite and sheet on the starboard kite complete the rig.

New J/24 Owner and Another J/24 Owner look back at the rapidly approaching double-kited, double-foredecked Madman, and know the race is on, incorrectly predicting an interesting douse for the amusement of Crew.

Indeed, the boat seems rather stable, but she’s already at her hull speed. As the river bend approaches, Madman decides a beer nap is better than trying a hotter angle with two kites. Both Foredecks think a jibe is another Bad Idea and, of course, want to confirm their hunch.

Saggy J-24 main
A saggy J/24 main helped it all work.

To celebrate arriving in the warm waters of Rio Vista just over eight hours after casting off, a Texas flag is now hoisted. Rio Vistans respond with a cacophony of Roman candles purchased from the corner fireworks stands.

Nonchalant Foredeck, while reclining next to a Jacuzzi jet with a glass of rosé, says, “This was a really bad idea. Too easy. We’re going to think we can do this again next year.”

But then there was the upwind return to Richmond still to be faced.

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