The sailors will be racing their boat for the first time at the 2022 J/22 Midwinters!
The J/22 Class Association now offers resources to help youth and young adults compete in J/22 regattas. We are very excited to award financial support to our first qualifying applicants, Max Vinocur and Keenan Hilsinger. Max and Keenan have purchased a J/22 and will be participating in the J/22 Midwinter Championship being held March 17 – 20, 2022 at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Texas. This will be the first time Max, Keenan and their crew will race their new to them J/22.
Max and his now J/22 boat partner Keenan discussed buying a small keelboat for some time. They contemplated buying boats such as the Lightning, J/24, several small handicap sailboats and the J/22. As they assessed their needs for a race boat, it became apparent that the J/22 was the right sailboat for them.
“The combination of a small crew, ease of trailering, and low year-to-year costs, while still being a true keelboat made the J/22 standout,” says Max. “The size of the fleet in Annapolis and the level of competition throughout the country were also important considerations.”
“The J/22 ticked a lot of boxes for me when it comes to boat ownership,” says Keenan. “I wanted a boat with a symmetric spinnaker, as I really enjoy the tactical and boat handling they allow. I was also looking for a boat that could be day sailed in reasonable comfort and with less experienced sailors on board. The College of Charleston Sailing Center has a fleet of J/22s, so I got to spend a lot of time racing and sailing the boats. I learned to appreciate the boat. While I was working for AYC, one of my duties was to look after their J/22 fleet. So I went into the buying process having already spent quite a bit of time working on the boats. The J/22 class offers world level competition, which was very important to me, in a fun boat to sail with a lot of great regattas.”
Max Vinocur grew up in eastern Long Island and learned to sail at a young age through his middle school sailing team. Max had always been fascinated by vehicles and was enthralled by the independence he experienced while skippering an Opti. His family moved to New York City when he started high school. During the summers, Max coached sailing at the Devon Yacht Club in Long Island and raced keelboats on Wednesday nights in Sag Harbor. He attended college at Michigan State University, where he skippered a 420 on the club sailing team. During the summers, he continued to coach sailing well as competing in PHRF and J109 races around Long Island. Additionally, he used time off in the summer to obtain his captain’s license.
After graduating from Michigan State in 2019, Max ventured back east to Sag Harbor where he coached high-school sailing and captained sailing charters. In March of 2020, he was hired by Quantum sails and moved to Annapolis to pursue a career in the sailmaking industry. Approximately one year later, Max was hired by North Sails Annapolis, which is where he currently works. His roll at the loft is in the service department working as a sailmaker. He actively races in Annapolis in the J/70, J/24 and ORC fleets. And he’s looking forward to racing his J/22 in 2022 at Annapolis.
Keenan Hilsinger grew up along the coast of Maine in the small town of Brooklin. His father, Rich Hilsinger, was the director of a boatbuilding and sailing school. Keenan learned to sail at a young age under his father’s tutelage in various small wooden boats. Once he found the competitive side of sailing, Keenan was truly hooked. His racing career started on local sailboats and classic yachts, competing in the New England racing circuit. While in his final year at George Stevens Academy he started racing dinghies, which shifted his focus to buoys racing.
After graduating from George Stevens in 2014, Keenan attended the College of Charleston where he spent four years on the varsity sailing team. During this time, he also raced on multiple local keelboats participating in events in the Southeast, both inshore and offshore. When at home, Keenan worked at various boat yards in Brooklin, focusing on wooden boats. Post college, Keenan moved to Annapolis, MD in 2018 and coached at the Annapolis Yacht Club. After his time coaching he worked as a fabricator and rigger at Annapolis Rigging. In 2020, he and two friends, Sean and Liam Harr, founded a yacht management company based in Annapolis. They specialize in both One-Design race sailboats as well as larger ORC offshore boats. Keenan is most active in the J/70, Etchells and ORC fleets.