The United States National Championships for J-24s, a popular class of one-design racing sailboats, will be held on Lake George this year.
The Lake George Club will host the races May 17-21. This will be the first time hosting the J-24 Nationals for the club, which has been home to the class since 1981 and a base for one-design racing since the 1930s.
In fact, according to event organizer Alfie Merchant, a Queensbury resident and skipper of the J-24 “Crackerjack,” this will be the first national, sanctioned sailing championship ever to be held on Lake George.
Spectators will be able to view the races from their own boats, from within safety zones lying outside the perimeters of the course, said Merchant.
According to Merchant, registration has been capped at 50 boats – 40 from yacht clubs as far away as Seattle and California and ten from Lake George itself.
With each boat sailed by a crew of five, and with most sailors accompanied by partners and families as well as by race judges and officials, the event is expected to draw 350 to 500 people to Lake George at a time of year when overnight and week-long visitors are historically few.
According to Merchant, sailors who arrive in Lake George on Wednesday, May 17, will be invited to participate in the season’s inaugural weekly Wednesday night races, which are open to sailboats of all classes. National Championship J-24 racing begins on Friday, May 19, and will continue through Sunday, May 21. On Saturday night, the skippers, crews, officials and their guests will assemble for a formal banquet, to be followed by fireworks. Results will be announced and awards will be presented on Sunday.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Occupancy Tax Committee has recommended that the Board award the organizers $13,500 to defray the cost of hosting a national event on Lake George.
Merchant said the Warren County Tourism Department and its online and print vehicles for promoting tourism – VisitLakeGeorge.com and “Visit the Lake George Area in New York’s Adirondacks” – will be the event’s lead sponsors.
Some of the most accomplished J-24 sailors in the world will travel to Lake George to compete in the 2023 USA National Championship, said Merchant.
Many of those who compete in the National Championships will register to race in the World Championships, which are held every year in a different major global city.
“The J-24 is a very competitive class, attracting not only dedicated amateurs but people working in the sailing industry,” said Merchant. “We’ll also see professional sailors, with sponsorships and paid crews.”
Many of the sailors will be familiar with Lake George, having competed in Fleet 24’s annual “Changing of the Colors Regatta,” which will take place this year September 30-October 1.
“They come more for the beauty of the lake than for the wind, which, to put it politely, can be inconsistent,” said Merchant.
Those who have never sailed Lake George before are likely to want to vacation here in the future, said Merchant.
The nation’s sailing media will cover the J-24 National Championship, attracting additional attention to Lake George and generating more publicity for the region, said Merchant.