Recently, we had a chance to catch up with our good friends, The Taylor Boys, from North Cape Yacht Club in La Salle, MI. Father, Bill, and sons, Will and Ethan have been sailing mainstays on Western Lake Erie for years, and recently purchased a new to them J/105, named "Whistler".
Describe a little of your sailing background.
I’ve had no formal sail training and youth sailing was limited to the SportYak and Katyak of Boy Scout Camp and the family summer vacations to Northern Michigan. I’ve been a power boater since my early teens and introduced to keel
boats around 2000 on a Pearson 30 by a lifelong friend where I moved from rail meat to the pit. My two sons and youth sailing formally introduced my family to competitive sailing where they excelled in the Thistle. Today, our sailing is their sailing. I’m easily the worst sailor on our boat!
We overpaid for a ragged-out boat (thistle) and Will and Ethan began a complete refit, chiseling-out stanchions, thwart, cap, 45s all replaced by them. Senior members of the thistle fleet from Doug Labor, the Finefrocks, motivated and encouraged their sailing and skill development. The Thistle played a huge roll in their early development and are still active in the Thistle fleet to this day.
Meanwhile they’re passion for the sport was grew exponentially and invitations to crew on various keel boats began flowing in. We made the family decision to purchase our first keel boat in 2014, J24 #4240 “Juice Box Hero”. The J24 was and excellent learning platform where these barely teenagers began to earn the trust of the western basin fleets. Juice Box, sailed with an exclusively junior crew, in various ILYA Regattas and helped inspire the creation of the PCYC J24 fleet. My passion for the sport took off helping youth sailors find opportunities to sail quality equipment and seriously compete at adult levels. The support and encouragement we received from fellow club members was invaluable.
My sailing background is directly tied to youth sailing, working on refits and restorations. The passion has been passed down from generation to generation. Those junior sailors have now grown up to be collegiate or former colligate sailors. They live, eat and breath sailing. They run the “Whistler” program.
What boat did you own before the J/105?
Mark Lindsay built Nelson/Marek 30
What kind of sailing do you do?
While we attempt to run a competitive race program, the 105 is used for everything. A sunset cruise or swim on a hot afternoon is a great way to spend the day. We race Wednesday night series, weekend local regattas and intend to jump into OD and travel this year as well. If you asked Will, it’s PHRF, OD and ORC. If you asked Ethan, we race but I love a sunset cruise.
What were you looking for in your next boat?
We wanted a larger race platform that was more accommodating for offshore, night and/or heavier conditions. We found ourselves in longer/larger regattas and had a great experience with the J24 and the bigger JBoat105 was an obvious choice. My sons researched listings, travelled to inspect, arranged surveys, purchase and transportation. “Whistler” is their program. I take pictures, pay some bills and most of the time they let me tag along. They launch, step, tune, paint, epoxy and repair.
Why did you choose this boat and what do you like most about it?
We sail as often as possible and sailing with a younger crew, its sometimes difficult to sail once or twice during the week and every weekend. The 105s asymmetrical configuration is friendlier to short-handed sailing than a symmetrical boat. The deck layout and system configurations on all JBoats are well thought out. They’ve sailed J24s, 29s, 30s, 70s, 88s, 92s, the 105, 109 and J122. The J105 shares some of its classic DNA with the 109 and even 122. They commonly sail on a very strong 122 program “Blitzkreig”. In addition to light handed sailing, the assym configuration is a good platform for training and preparation for larger national regattas aboard the larger JBoats while also allowing them a platform for more common “double-handed” competitions.
What particular sailing features do you like?
The boat is an absolute blast in 20 knots. The confidence and stability the boat provides is fantastic. When Lake Erie gets choppy the “Whistler” loves it. The competitive nature of the boat’s design is evident when we pushed the boat hard. We seem to find an extra half knot, but you have to push the boat hard and have the boat in great condition and a good tune to get it. Last, the deck layout is friendlier to more mature sailors like myself. Trying to keep up with these youngsters is hard enough and I’m glad the deck and cockpit configuration doesn’t beat you up.
What is the story behind your boat name?
The boat name “Whistler” comes from the previous owner. The boat bounced back and forth annually from Barbados and Newport. Rumor has it he was directly affiliated with the famous “Whistler” ski resort. He bought a new JBoat and we got a boat that had been raced by a knowledgeable owner.
What do you most look forward to each season on the boat?
Every off season is busy for us. We attempt to improve our boats every off-season. It affords us a season to work on the boat and a season to race, making spring launch an event with the testing new gear, rigging and sails. The Mills Race is the biggest regatta in our area so it’s the one we look forward to it each spring. This year we are going to attempt a regatta or two in the southeast.
What is your proudest achievement on the boat?
Will and Ethan won their first double handed regatta. First in PHRF-A at O’Connell Fall Bay was a blast but the proudest achievement was winning the Club Championship at North Cape Yacht Club. Members have mentoring my boys for years and the competition is strong. Earning a club championship with a young crew and a skipper that should be competing in the junior circuit … it’s pretty rewarding.
What is your biggest goal for the boat? Do you have any upcoming plans for this season or next?
The goal is to get the boat into top flight competition condition. We’re looking forward to the Mill’s Race, a Port Huron to Mac, Cleveland Race weeks and possibly Bay View One Design. I want to keep the Whistler Crew busy, they get better every time they leave the dock. It’s a young crew and they dream. I’d like to see if we can make a couple of those come true, whether it’s Florida, Charleston, Cleveland, Chicago or a Nationals we probably have some travelling in our future.
Editor's Note: Whistler won the PHRF Fleet at the 2021 Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race! Congrats team.
How has Sailing Inc. supported you in reaching your goals?
Sailing Inc. Cleveland has been great and Karl has been supporting us for years. He helped the boys with a clutch equipment delivery at Thistle Nationals and earned part of his reputation working with younger sailors. The Inc. has also been very supportive of local youth regattas and their mission of providing top notch products and cultivating the future of the sport parallels our goals for the “Whistler” program.
This year we ate through the inherited sail inventory and turned to the Karl and the Inc. for a new mainsail for what turned out to be the biggest regatta of the year for us in Fall Bay. The Evolution main powered us to first in phrf-a and second overall in the last regatta of the season. Great price, great service and most importantly, a great sail keeps sending us back to Karl. He’s never missed an opportunity to encourage my sailors and that’s why he’s getting us a new Evolution A2 and a set of Harken Performa secondary winches to trim that new kite.