Barbehenn once again tops Jet-14 Nationals

In the summer of 1969, no doubt some Lake Hopatcong residents were enjoying the summer of love and partying it up at Woodstock. Also taking place that week? The Jet-14 Nationals, which drew scores of boats to the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club. Fast forward 42 years, and the LHYC once again hosted the Jet-14 Nationals, with a few of the 1969 participants returning to the scene. After three days of racing, Brent Barbehenn won the regatta for the tenth time in a row, and the 16th time as a skipper, with an added championship earned in 1972 while crewing for his dad.

Barbehenn, who grew up sailing on Lake Hopatcong, won six of the nine races held Thursday through Saturday. With crew Megan Booth, he finished with 15 points overall. Barbehenn’s father, Eddie—who worked with the race committee last week—finished third the last time Lake Hopatcong hosted the Nationals. Brent repurchased and spent the last year rebuilding the boat his father used for that regatta, no. 558, sailing it to victory last week. It was the first time the boat was raced since it was rebuilt.

“I guess this is like the great circle of a sailor’s/sailboat’s life: going back to the place it all started, in one of the boats I learned on (Eddie got the boat new in 1961), after 40 or so years,” Barbehenn said. “It was special to have it at LHYC, and with Eddie there… Since I refurbished the boat this past year preceding the regatta, it should be good for another 50 years!”

Brian and Tiffany Parker finished in second, with 24 points, and Marion Zaugg and Phillip Bunting finished in third with 29 points. Only 21 boats participated in the racing, which was a low turnout, but on par with similar events across the country, where the economy and gas prices are likely to be contributing to low attendance at national regattas across the board. Nonetheless, the entries came from seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, and New Jersey. Two LHYC junior sailors, Andrew Dill and Thomas Hussey crewed on boats last week.

John Deermount, who sailed with then-14-year-old Barbehenn as his crew in the 1969 event and finished fourth at the time, served as principal race officer of last week’s regatta. Deermount had sailed Jet-14s on Lake Hopatcong, but has raced Thistles in recent decades. “During the 60s, [Jet-14s] were the most competitive class at the club, with 15 boats on the line each Sunday,” Deermount said. He added that the fleet began at the club in 1959, but folded in the 1970s after spinnakers were added, which drove away many father-daughter and husband-wife teams.

As for this year’s Nationals, Deermount said everything went well, despite the 42-year break. “The weather was spectacular, but the winds were challenging,” he said. “Most [participants] had never been on Lake Hopatcong before and were very impressed by the lake and club.”

Deermount—who sailed on no. 558 with Eddie Barbehenn at the 1963 Nationals—said Barbehenn dominated and that the boat was “as fast as ever.” He also said that the Jet-14 class members were “a great group, very family oriented, and thy love sailing against each other. Chris Norman made the following comment after a 10 boat cluster leeward mark rounding “they don’t even yell at each other.”

Barbehenn and Booth were tossed in the lake after their decisive victory. “I think we were fortunate to have wind each day, although it was from the ‘shifty’ direction—mostly west—and we were able to work those shifts to our advantage,” Barbehenn said. “As my crew, Megan Booth said, ‘I think this lake likes you.’  But I know I like it a lot more than it likes me!”

 

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