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Old Man and the Sea? Not Even Close.
Marblehead Sailor and America’s Cup Sail Designer JB Braun Ventures to Halifax with Two Father Son Teams

Marblehead Sailor and America’s Cup Sail Designer JB Braun Ventures to Halifax with Two Father Son Teams

Interview by Chris Goddard  with Photos by Craig Davis

Fresh off a long stint with Team Oracle in Bermuda, North sailmaker JB Braun is heading to the start line of the 2017 Marblehead Halifax Race on his boat Eos (of course painted Marblehead green), a Jim Taylor design, with his sons Tucker and Ryan along with another father – son team. You can definitely call this a family affair.

For those that have done the race, it is always full of surprises and unexpected adventures -- fog, too little wind or blowing like stink. Some of us have broken records, while others have been parked looking at the finish line for days.

Three things are for sure – a terrific send off from Marblehead and its community of sailors, a warm welcome at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Club and steering a course of 90 degrees.

Why do this race now? Especially after the day to day rigors of an America’s Cup campaign? JB shares his insights.


Why are you doing the race now?

I'm interested in the adventure aspect of the race. My wife Kelley and I decided it was time that we got our own cruising boat and, me being performance oriented, I wanted to make sure the boat sailed well, thus our Jim Taylor designed Eos.  

I also wanted to build quality experiences by spending time with my family because I'm not getting any younger (especially after this past America’s Cup). No better place than wet, tired and hungry on a boat for relationship building. 


What is it about the race that attracted you?

Primarily, it's an adventure race right out of my hometown Marblehead. Then, it ends at a beautiful section of the east coast which I've never cruised and hope to do some cruising after the race. 

How did you build your crew?

I had planned to do the race with my two boys, Tucker and Ryan. Tucker asked if one of his good friends could come along with us. His friend happened to be Garrett McKinnon and his dad is race committee chairman at the Eastern YC, where we are members. Garrett has an older brother Alan, just like Tucker.  So, all of a sudden, we had a father/son crew, two Dad's and four sons. We added Todd Barbera who has sailed with our family on our Viper etc. and I've done offshore racing, with as well crewed on his Baltic Sea Paws. 


How will you prepare?

We prepared for the race last year doing all the offshore PHRF races in Mass Bay. Our long- distance race was the Berringer Bowl. 


Is this the crew’s first offshore race? (we know it is not yours, of course)

For all the boys, this will be the first long distance offshore race. Ryan has offshore experience sailing from St Maarten to Newport a few years ago, while the other boys have only done overnight adventures. Alan, Todd and I have done the Halifax Race along with the Bermuda race etc.  


How will you approach the strategy to win?

We have spent a great deal of time getting the boat to conform to the offshore regulations with the help of Andrew Flaherty. 

We have new sails, a 3-Di race main and a genoa along with North's new product 3Di polyester headsail -- our sail is more focused for reaching. We also purchased new reaching and downwind spinnakers. Just don't tell Kelley. 


What kind of environment will you establish onboard?

We're doing the race for the adventure and camraderie. We hope to have fun, along with being competitive. Our objectives are to finish and, if the luck is with us, be in a position to capitalize on the opportunities as they present themselves. 


Any secret meals? 

I'll have to check with Alan, on that as he's preparing most of the meals that includes traditional, secret sailing recipes. 


There is an old fable, that on the first night, drinking a glass of wine calms the nerves? (and then the rest of the trip is dry) Do you plan to engage?

Sounds like a good plan but I haven't given that a lot of thought at the moment. I'll have to talk to the boys. 


What watch system will you utilize?

I think will do four hours on four off with rotating two every two hours. Every two hours, we will have two fresh crew. 


What would you consider a success for the race?

I think if we finish the race and feel good about our performance, but also push ourselves a little so we investigate our limits and learn a little bit about ourselves, that will be a tremendous success for us. 

Any lessons from the America’s Cup that you can apply here?

"Take the gains when presented as you never know where they will lead you."