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Holt/Smit take Charge as Martin/Nelson Falter

Friday, August 28th, 2009

The scenario has shifted in the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Mike Holt and crew Carl Smit—formerly of the UK now living in nearby Santa Cruz—seized control from Mike Martin and crew Jeff Nelson from Newport Beach, Calif., who suffered a 12th place in the first of two races in uncommonly light wind fluctuating between 8 and 11 knots Thursday.

Martin/Nelson, previously invincible through five races in breeze as strong as 25 knots, except for the first day when their mast broke, rebounded with a second place, but by then Holt/Smit had scored a third and a fourth and now lead with 12 points to 18 for Martin/Nelson.

That means that Holt/Smit, whose worst finish has been the fourth place, may not have to sail Saturday’s last race if they can hold their lead through Friday’s next-to-last eighth of nine races overall. There are two throwouts and they haven’t really needed any, although Martin/Nelson can drop their 12th after today, leaving the door open a bit.

The way the week’s competition has developed, Thursday’s race winners were slightly surprising and are-you-kidding-me? stunning: Dalton Bergan and crew Fritz Lanzinger of Seattle by 24 seconds, climbing from sixth to fifth place, and Australia’s Malcolm Higgins and crew Nick Johnston, who are in 32nd place with a previous best finish of 13th, by a startling 48 seconds.

Holt said, “We just plugged along . . . didn’t take any risks. We didn’t want to get any [results] we needed to drop.”

So Friday’s strategy will be . . . ?

“We’ve got to make sure Mike doesn’t get any good scores.”

So, with two throwouts to give, does this mean there will be some match racing going on Friday?

“There’s a possibility of that,” Holt said.

Racing on the East Bay course was delayed an hour and five minutes with a light easterly wind—a headwind that prompted most boats to be towed out—that transitioned through a lull into a normal westerly from the Golden Gate Bridge seven miles away. It grew to 10 knots through the starting sequence but remained so fluky that the first start was aborted on a general recall—rare for a Gate (a.k.a. “rabbit”) Start but necessary when a wind shift scrambled the starters in front of the rabbit—in this case, Australia’s Peter Chappell and crew Ian Davidson.

The second try worked, except for Martin and Nelson.

“We got pinched off by another boat and then rolled,” Nelson said.

Martin said, “That wasn’t too bad, but halfway up the beat we were moving OK and this huge [wind] hole developed, and all the guys on the left sailed around it.”

That put them 24th at the first windward mark of the three-lap course, and the best they could do was to cut that deficit in half.

“That means we’ll have to sail both days,” Martin said. “Holt is definitely in a controlling position.”

With 36 points, Bergan and Lanzinger are out of title contention, but “we’re pretty psyched,” Bergan said. “I’ve never even led a race with a spinnaker in my life.”

With their fifth place in the second race, they had the best overall day of anybody.

Bergan, 31, is a relative rookie in the 505 class with only a year and a half of sailing in the tricky 16 1/2-foot dinghy, although Lanzinger, who owns the boat, once sailed with Howie Hamlin in one of his five 505 Worlds second-place finishes.

But Lanzinger, 48, said of his skipper, “The guy’s more than a rookie. He just got fourth in the Moth Worlds [at the Cascade Locks on the Columbia River earlier this month], and he has plenty of experience in big regattas.”

Bergan also has placed second in the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for the 49er class, and he feels that his first 505 Worlds is special.

“It’s a rite of passage,” he said. “Sailing the Worlds in a windy spot is a classic thing to do. We’re pretty surprised to be in the top group.”

The win by Higgins and Johnston was even more impressive. They led at every mark, with Martin/Nelson unable to chip away despite outrunning everybody else.

“The boat’s going well,” Higgins said. “We just keep bashing through. It’s pretty awesome. We’re just tried to keep a cover on everyone.”

Johnston: “Just fantastic. All that running and cycling [training] in Tasmania paid off.”

SAP is the naming sponsor and APL is the presenting sponsor. Marine Media Alliance, Drystone Berridge Vineyard Estates, Lindsay Art Glass, North Sails, Ronstan and 505 American Section are supporting sponsors.

The leaders (after 7 of 9 races)

1. Mike Holt/Carl Smit, USA, (2)-1-2-2-2-3-(4), 12 points.
2. Mike Martin/Jeff Nelson, USA, 1-(DNF)-1-1-1-12-2, 18.
3. Chris Nicholson/Casey Smith, Australia, (4)-3-3-3-3-7-8, 23.
4. Jens Findel/Johannes Tellen, Germany, (72)-5-6-15-12-2-3, 33.
5. Dalton Bergan/Fritz Lanzinger, USA, 8-8-4-10-(15)-1-5, 36.
6. Nick Adamson/Steve Bourdow, USA, 9-2-13-4-4-4-(17), 36.
7. Howie Hamlin/Paul Cayard, USA, 5-6-(RAF)-7-14-5-10, 47.
8. Ryan Cox/Stuart Park, USA, 12-11-12-6-8-6-(15), 55.
9. Ian Pinnell/Carl Gibbon, Great Britain, 7-14-8-13-(20)-10-11, 63. 10. Tyler Moore/Geoff Ewenson, USA, 11-13-11-15-(16)-8-6, 64.

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No Surprises On Final Day at The Clagett

Friday, August 28th, 2009

When the competitors left the dock for the third and final day of racing at the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta, they did so in a beautiful crisp 12 knot northerly that unfortunately died off over the course of the morning. While the total absence of breeze ultimately forced the last races to be abandoned for the SKUD-18 and J/22 classes, all the competing fleets (2.4 Metre, Sonar, SKUD-18 and J/22s) sailed a ten-race series, except for the J/22s who sailed 11, and the day ended with the standings unchanged as the fleet leaders prevailed to claim the top prizes.

Racing in Sail Newport’s fleet of J/22s, 2008 Blind Sailing National Champions Sengil Inkiala (Waltham, Mass.), Nancy Jodoin (Newton, Mass.) and Ken Legler (Reading, Mass.), with Naomi Shwom (Sharon, Mass.), added two more bullets to their scoreline to successfully defend their title. The 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Champions JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Jan Bartleson (Miami, Fla.), racing with sighted guides Diane Fowler (St. Petersburg) and David Bannister (Miami), were awarded the silver for second overall. Ryck Lent (Waltham, Mass.) and Mark Bos (Gloucester, Mass.) with Arthur O’Neill (Needham, Mass.) and David Gilman (Sharon, Mass.) added an OCS in the final race of the series, to their 3-2 from earlier in the day, to hang on to third place overall for the bronze.

“We were over early in the first race today,” said Inkiala. “But we came back and re-started, were last on the first leg, but worked our way back to finish second. And then we won the last two races of the day.” For Inkiala, who sails with the Carroll Center’s SailBlind program, as does Lent, this is the sixth Blind Sailing National title he has won since 1999.

Over the 10-race series in the 2.4 Metres, 2008 Paralympian Julio Requero (Guyanbo, Puerto Rico) placed first in six. He added finishes of 1-1-2 today, dropped his worst score – a DNF – to win that class with 12 points. In addition, Requero was awarded the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Trophy for the best overall performance by a sailor in the regatta. Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.) finished 2-2-1, to retain second place in the fleet with 14 points, and Timothy Ripley (Randolph, N.J.) took third on 28 points.

2008 Paralympian Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Hugh Freund (S. Freeport, Maine) and Josh Saltmarsh (Wayland, Mass.) won their three races today in the Sonar to win the class with nine points. Dennis Moran (Framingham, Mass.), Jonathan Evans (Boxford, Mass.) and Michael Coxan (AUS) were second overall with 21 points, followed by Charlie Croteau (Worcester, Mass.), Jim Donahue (Danvers, Mass.) and Pauly Atkins (AUS) with 23.

For a second day in a row, the SKUD-18 class saw no change in the top three positions. Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (West Chester, Penn.), successfully defended their title by winning both of the day’s races to end the series with 12 points. Shan McAdoo (Hamilton, Mass.) and 2008 SKUD-18 Paralympic Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) finished 3-2 for a total of 17 points, while Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Bob Jones (Issaquah, Wash.) added a 2-3 for 22 points to take third in the fleet standings.

“For me sailing in Newport is the best training you can get anywhere,” said Dorsett. “The tide, the current, the wind shifts, you’ve got big breeze and little breeze. It’s the ultimate training camp. You’ve got every type of variable you can imagine, so if you can sail here, you can sail anywhere. We love to come here. Scott and I have been sailing a lot, all over, and The Clagett trumps any regatta in provisions, race committee and the way they are so inclusive of everyone.”

With their training regimen complimented by competing in The Clagett, Whitman and Dorsett will soon head to Europe to race in Sail For Gold in Weymouth, England, before the IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship in Athens, Greece. Also headed to those events are three sailors who have pooled their talents for a new Sonar campaign – 2008 Paralympians Doerr and McKinnon-Tucker, with Hugh Fruend, have their sights set on the 2012 Games in England.

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Windy Day Two Challenges Competitors at The Clagett

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

A stiff southwesterly breeze made for a challenging second day of racing at the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta. Both the visually impaired sailors in Sail Newport’s fleet of J/22s and the sailors with disabilities in the SKUD-18 fleet completed four races, while the Sonar and 2.4 Metre sailors completed three. A drop race, now that each fleet has completed a seventh race, has factored into the scoring and has had the most impact in the J/22 fleet.

After starting the day in a three-way tie for first, 2008 Blind Sailing National Champions Sengil Inkiala (Waltham, Mass.), Nancy Jodoin (Newton, Mass.) and Ken Legler (Reading, Mass.), with Naomi Shwom (Sharon, Mass.), a member of the Sharon High School Sailing Team, won the last two races of the day to jump to the top of the overall standings. They hold a two-point lead over the 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Champions JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Jan Bartleson (Miami, Fla.), racing with sighted guides Diane Fowler (St. Petersburg) and David Bannister (Miami), who started the day with a win of the first race. Creignou then displayed remarkable fortitude when a smack from the boom resulted in a serious cut to his upper lip. A determined Creignou alerted the race committee to the problem, finished the race – in fifth – and then sought medical attention. They finished 4-2 in the subsequent races and are second overall with 15 points. Creignou’s trip to the hospital resulted in seven stitches, but he was back under the regatta tent in time to hear local sailing icon Jerry Kirby (Newport, R.I.) talk to the competitors about his participation in the recent Volvo Ocean Race. Ryck Lent (Waltham, Mass.) and Mark Bos (Gloucester, Mass.) with Mike Dinning (Natick, Mass.) and David Gilman (Sharon, Mass.) – another member of the Sharon High School Sailing Team – moved from fourth to third overall with consistent finishes of 2-2-2-3 for 23 points. In addition to a class win for The Clagett, the 2009 U.S. Blind Sailing National Championship title is on the line for these competitors.

After three races today, there was no position change in the 2.4 Metre class. 2008 Paralympian Julio Requero, (Guyanbo, Puerto Rico) retains the lead with eight points for a one-point lead over Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.). Timothy Ripley (Randolph, N.J.) is third with 17 points. Tammy Vermette (Milford, Conn.) picked up a DNF in race six, and a DNC in race seven, when the pump battery on her boat malfunctioned. The deck was awash when she was helped off her 2.4 Metre, but a replacement battery should ensure she will make it to the starting line for the final day of racing.

The SKUD-18 class also had no change in the positions, although they too saw their share of drama on the water. Defending champions, Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (West Chester, Penn.), retain the lead after finishing 1-3-2-2 for a total of 10 points. Following two points back are Shan McAdoo (Hamilton, Mass.) and 2008 SKUD-18 Paralympic Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.), who picked up a DNF in the first race after a port-starboard collision with Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Bob Jones (Issaquah, Wash.). McAdoo and McKinnon-Tucker sailed back to the dock with serious damage to the bow of the boat which was quickly repaired by bosun Gene Hinkel (St. Petersburg, Fla.), allowing them to return to the course where they won the next three races. Racing “Nick’s Karma,” the 2008 gold medal winning boat that belonged to the late Nick Scandone, which appears to have minimal damage, Everhart-Skeels and Jones posted 2-2-3-3 for 17 points and third overall in the standings.

2008 Paralympian Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and Hugh Freund (S. Freeport, Maine) with Bjarki Gunnarson (River Vale, N.J.) won all three races today in the Sonar class. Skipper Dennis Moran (Framingham, Mass.), with Jonathan Evans (Boxford, Mass.) and Michael Coxan (AUS), finished second in all three races and moved into second overall with 14 points. One point back, in third, are Charlie Croteau (Worcester, Mass.), Jim Donahue (Danvers, Mass.) and Pauly Atkins (AUS).

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Sail and Power Squadron Schedules Muskegon Classes

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The Muskegon Sail and Power Squadron members will be offering their five week, semi-annual America’s Boating Course #3 beginning on Thursday, October 15, 7:00 pm. It will be held in the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum building by the submarine Silversides. This is great course for families. Please call 231 755 3476 for additional information.

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Competitive Instincts Prevail at The Clagett

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The first of three days of racing in the seventh annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta, taking place out of Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s public sailing center, saw all four fleets of sailors with disabilities complete four races on Narragansett Bay. Race one was sailed in a dying northerly that faded out and switched direction, forcing several classes to abandon their second race and wait for the wind to settle. Although the southerly breeze managed to fill by 13:00, it never got above eight knots over the rest of the afternoon.

Speaking to the sailors yesterday, noted sailor Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.) remarked that The Clagett was “more about what you learn, than what the results are.” However, as evident from the three-way tie for first place in the J/22 class being raced by the visually impaired sailors, it’s hard to squash competitive instincts. Racing for the 2009 U.S. Blind Sailing National Championship title, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto (San Diego, Calif.) and Glenn Boivan (Saugus, Mass.) with Peter Frisch (Swampscott, Mass.) and Lyn Comfort (Newport, R.I.) turned in a 3-3-1-1 to take the lead spot in the fleet. The 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Champions JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Jan Bartleson (Miami, Fla.), racing with sighted guides Diane Fowler (St. Petersburg) and David Bannister (Miami) posted finishes of 2-1-3-2, while 2008 Blind Sailing National Champions Sengil Inkiala (Waltham, Mass.), Nancy Jodoin (Newton, Mass.) and Ken Legler (Reading, Mass.) with Naomi Shwom (Sharon, Mass.) went 1-2-2-3. All three teams have eight points.

Defending champion Inkiala commented that there is less close-quarter sailing in light shifty conditions making racing more about strategy, adding that the three-way tie means that the pressure is on. “And when the pressure is on, people make mistakes.”

Julio Requero, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2008 Paralympic Games, won three of four races in the 2.4 Metre class, and leads the overall standings with five points. Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.), posting scores of 2-2-1-2, is second overall with seven points, with Timothy Ripley (Randolph, N.J.) in third on 12 points.

The SKUD-18 defending champions, Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (West Chester, Penn.), are leading that fleet after winning all but the last race of the day, in which they placed second, for a total of five points. Shan McAdoo (Hamilton, Mass.) and 2008 SKUD-18 Paralympic Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) are second with nine points, just one point ahead of Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Bob Jones (Issaquah, Wash.).

2008 Paralympian Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and Hugh Freund (S. Freeport, Maine) won all four races today in the Sonar class. Rookie sailor Charlie Croteau (Worcester, Mass.) – he began sailing two months ago with the Piers Park Adaptive Sailing Program – is second overall with Jim Donahue (Danvers, Mass.) and Pauly Atkins (AUS). Dennis Moran (Framingham, Mass.) with Jonathan Evans and Michael Coxan (AUS) are third.

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Martin/Nelson Working on a 505 Worlds Sweep

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Good thing the wind calmed down a bit Tuesday or Mike Martin and crew Jeff Nelson—notorious for their heavy weather sailing—would be running away with the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Wait a minute. The Newport Beach, Calif. sailors were every bit as dominant in mom and pop breeze of 8 to 11 knots to start the day as conditions built to 20 by the end of the second race. They led at every mark in both races, sometimes seemingly too far ahead to read the sail numbers of their closest competitors, if they ever bothered to look back.

Their speed has been exceptional, their tactics solid and their boat handling like clockwork. When the wind came up, while others were flopping and flipping in their wake, their teamwork at executing jibes as they skipped over the waves at more than 20 knots was as slick and quick as a pas de deux at the Royal Ballet.

Now, after discarding the 99 points for Race 2 Sunday when their mast broke as they were running a close second to Mike Holt and crew Carl Smit, their tally shows only four points in five races. But they do look back.

“Yeah,” Nelson said, “absolutely.”

As for Holt and Smit, they’re three points behind with a first and four seconds after beating everybody but Martin/Nelson.

Nelson said, “Their worst race was a second, so we don’t have much breathing room. They were nipping at our heels for awhile.”

Three points is within mathematical reach should the leaders stumble again—but don’t count on it. Their wins were by 1 minute 38 seconds and 1:12. Holt/Smith may be keeping Martin/Nelson honest, but they need to pay attention to Australia’s three-time world champion, Chris Nicholson with crew Casey Smith, whose (4)-3-3-3-3 line score is also impressive.

Nick Adamson of nearby San Carlos, Calif., and crew Steve Bourdow, are fourth with 19 points but facing reality.

“They’ll have to screw up or have some problems,” Adamson said of the leaders. “But anything can happen.”

No racing was scheduled Wednesday, and the regatta will wind up with two races Thursday and one each Friday and Saturday.

There will be one more discard after the eighth race, but even that may not help perennial contender and 1999 winner Howard Hamlin of Long Beach, Calif. and crew Paul Cayard, whose seventh and 14th places Tuesday left them 28 points back in seventh, behind Germany’s Jens Findel and crew Johannes Tellen and Seattle’s Dalton Bergan and crew Fritz Lanzinger.

Hamlin/Cayard have already used one of their throwouts by voluntarily rejecting, in a change of heart, the redress they had won after being disqualified in Monday’s race for interfering with the Gate Launch boat that follows the Pathfinder race boat, a.k.a. the “rabbit.” Then in Tuesday’s second race their boat sprang a leak when the gasket in the centerboard failed.

“We had geysers this high in the boat,” Hamlin said, holding his hand waist high. “I’m sure it hurt us. We were slow.”

That morning Cayard had phoned Hamlin to suggest they forfeit the redress.

“That was my first gate start in 30 years,” Cayard said. “I went home and read the rules”—specifically, paragraph 11.9 that states “a boat shall not interfere with the Pathfinder . . . [or] the Gate Launch [boat]“—in this case an inflatable tender.

The rule didn’t define “interfere,” but now, after a pre-race amendment issued Tuesday, it says “a boat shall not make contact with the boats.”

Cayard said, “We didn’t even know we hit the thing. One of the guys on it said a piece of my clothing grazed it. I don’t know what that could have been. The hull did not make contact.”

But, Cayard said, “I figured it all out at 11:30 last night.”

He decided the right thing to do was to go with the spirit of the rule.

“I called Howie and he agreed.”

Cayard, a longtime St. Francis YC member, informed race officials of the decision when he arrived at the club.

Later, Pip Pearson, the International 505 Class president from Australia, said the action of Cayard and Hamlin was “one of the most honorable things I’ve ever seen.”

Cayard said, “It’s not all about winning. You have to live with yourself.”

SAP is the naming sponsor and APL is the presenting sponsor. Marine Media Alliance, Drystone Berridge Vineyard Estates, Lindsay Art Glass, North Sails, Ronstan and 505 American Section are supporting sponsors.

The leaders (after 5 of 9 races)

1. Mike Martin/Jeff Nelson, USA, 1-(DNF)-1-1-1, 4 points.
2. Mike Holt/Carl Smit, USA, (2)-1-2-2-2, 7.
3. Chris Nicholson/Casey Smith, Australia, (4)-3-3-3, 12.
4. Nick Adamson/Steve Bourdow, USA, 9-2-(13)-4-4, 19.
5. Jens Findel/Johannes Tellen, Germany, (72)-5-6-15-12, 28.
6. Dalton Bergan/Fritz Lanzinger, USA, 8-8-4-10-(15), 30.
7. Howie Hamlin/Paul Cayard, USA, 5-6-(99-RAF), 7-14, 32.
8. Ryan Cox/Stuart Park, USA, (12)-11-12-6-8, 37.
9. Bruce Mahoney/Paul Allen, USA, (24)-7-7-8-19, 41.
10. Ian Pinnell/Carl Gibbon, Great Britain, 7-14-8-13-(20), 42.

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Holt holds on, but 505 Battle Just Beginning

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Mike Martin and crew Jeff Nelson have won two of the three races in the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, but were to spend a restless Monday night in 27th place before rejoining the fray Tuesday.

Restless for some of their rivals, that is.

The Newport Beach, Calif. sailors beat the regatta leaders, Mike Holt and crew Carl Smit of Santa Cruz, Calif., by 48 seconds in Monday’s only scheduled race. Now, after the first of two races scheduled Tuesday—the fourth race of nine through Saturday—they’ll discard the 99-point score they’ve carried like a thousand-pound bag of salt since failing to finish Sunday’s second race after flipping their boat and busting their mast.

At the time they were running second to Holt/Smit, who went on to win the race despite their mast getting bent by the same puff that took out their adversaries. Both replaced their masts overnight, and conditions were lighter than Sunday’s blowout at about 17 knots.

But Martin said, “We were both a little nervous about how our new rigs were gonna go, but they both went about the same as before”—that is, when he enjoyed a slight but significant edge in speed coming into the event after running away with the North American championship.

“We’re in the hunt,” Martin said.

So before Martin and Nelson cash in their throwout, Holt/Smit (2-1-2) lead Australia’s three-time world champion Chris
Nicholson and crew Casey Smith 5 points to 10. In third place is Howard Hamlin—once a champion and always a contender in 505 Worlds–and new crew Paul Cayard at 5-6-6 for 17 points

But first Hamlin/Cayard had to win a case with the race jury after being disqualified for interfering with the Pathfinder (i.e., “rabbit”) boat during the Gate Start sequence—Paragraph 11.9 of the Sailing Instructions. Otherwise, they would have been dragging their own ball and chain into Tuesday’s racing.

Five American darkhorse teams fill out the top 10, led by Dalton Bergan and crew Fritz Lanzinger in fourth place with 20 points.

For Martin/Nelson, it only hurts for a little while longer. In fact, a second throwout will kick in after the eighth race Friday, which seems a bit much for Nicholson.

“One thing I am perplexed about is having two drops for a nine-race series,” Nicholson said. “To drop [almost] 20 per cent of your races is a big call.”

Hamlin and Cayard also had a brush with a race committee inflatable boat while sailing downwind to the race course under spinnaker well before the start.

“He must not have been looking where he was going,” Cayard, a longtime St. Francis YC member, said in the Crissy Field boat yard as he studied the aluminum spar from behind the boat. “The spinnaker got all tangled up in that big post on the front of the [RC] boat and bent the mast.”

Nevertheless, they finished sixth before being dealt the DSQ on the other matter and planned to straighten the mast before racing Tuesday.

Cayard flew home from Europe Sunday after calling tactics for Artemis’ climb into first place with one race to go in the latest Audi MedCup TP52 regatta. In his absence, Artemis finished 10th and last as Emirates Team New Zealand won by 1.5 points.

No comment. Hamlin was happy to have the local star on board, although he hadn’t sailed on a 505 in 30 years and Great Britain’s Ian Mitchell had performed flawlessly warming up the hiking trapeze for him.

“Ian did a terrific job for a boat he’d just been thrown into,” Hamlin said. “We only sailed together four days and my boat is set up totally different than ones he sailed.”

In that situation, Hamlin thought “I may have sailed a bit conservatively”—like when he, along with others, kept his spinnaker stowed after watching many others get overpowered and flip on Sunday.

“But I don’t think Paul will be conservative,” Hamlin said.

Meantime, Australia’s Malcolm Higgins and crew Nick Johnston set an early pace before flipping out on the reach leg near the end of the second of three laps. Then Martin, Holt and Nicholson had a hooter of a three-boat contest, running away from the other 72 starters.

A strong first leg riding a strong wind shift to the left put Martin/Nelson on pace, and near the end they concentrated on covering Holt/Smit, tacking on them from directly upwind as the latter rounded the leeward gate and became resigned to protecting their own position.

Holt said with a sigh, “We figured we weren’t gonna catch Mike, so we made sure Nicholson wasn’t gonna catch us.”

Nicholson said, “It’s just nice to be sailing with this quality of guys. They’re all very well prepared.”

And the battle, apparently, is just getting started.

The leaders (after 3 of 9 races)

1. Mike Holt/Carl Smit, USA, 2-1-2, 5 points.
2. Chris Nicholson/Casey Smith, Australia, 4-3-3, 10.
3. Howie Hamlin/Paul Cayard, USA, 5-6-6, 17.
4. Dalton Bergan/Fritz Lanzinger, USA, 8-8-4, 20.
5. Nick Adamson/Steve Bourdow, USA, 9-2-13, 24.
6. Kevin Taugher/Ben Benjamin, USA, 14-4-10, 28.
7. Ian Pinnell/Carl Gibbon, Great Britain, 7-14-8, 29.
8. Sandy Higgins/Paul Marsh, Australia, 3-12-17, 32.
9. Tyler Moore/Geoff Ewenson, USA, 11-13-11, 35.
10. Ryan Cox/Stuart Park, USA, 12-11-12, 35.

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Measuring Success at Clagett

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Rhode Island’s public sailing center, Sail Newport, buzzed with activity today as sailors with disabilities and vision impairment gathered for the seventh annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. When Judy McLennan (Portsmouth, R.I.) and daughter Stephanie McLennan (Newport) created the event, their goal was to fulfill the competitive goals of sailors with disabilities while helping to better prepare those sailors whose aspirations included representing the USA at the Paralympic Games. The one-day clinic, August 24, is the hallmark of “The Clagett” and exposes the sailors to techniques and strategies courtesy of some of the best sailing minds in the world (including noted sailor Gary Jobson of Annapolis, Md.), and is followed by three days of racing, August 25-27, when the sailors can test and strengthen their skills. It is a formula that has had measurable results. Last year, 12 sailors who had qualified for the 2008 Paralympic Games (six from the USA and six from Canada) competed in The Clagett, with six of those athletes going on to win medals in China.

The U.S.A.’s 2008 SKUD-18 Paralympic Gold Medalist, Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.), is one of the Paralympians returning to participate in The Clagett, as is Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) who skippers a Sonar. The first year of a quadrennium – the four year cycle on which the Paralympics run – is often a building year and both are sailing here with new crew. In addition, six sailors from the Adaptive Sailing Program at Piers Park Sailing Center (East Boston, Mass.) will compete for the first time. There are seven visually impaired teams competing for the 2009 U.S. Blind Sailing National Championship title, of which five were organized by The Carroll Center for the Blind (Newton, Mass.) which has run its SailBlind program since 1979. They will have to work hard, however, to beat JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) who won the IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship at Newport in 2006, and the Sonar Paralympic Bronze Medal at Athens, Greece, in 2004.

Competitors will race the single-person 2.4 Metre, two-person SKUD-18, and the three-person Sonar – the classes sailed in the Paralympic Games. Each class of boat has been specially designed to accommodate the varied needs of its crew and allows everyone to compete on an equal basis. For each blind skipper and crew aboard one of Sail Newport’s fleet of J/22s there are two sighted guides whose primary role is to provide information and perform limited tasks on the boat.

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Titan 15 Triumphs in IRC; Cutlass, Jeroboam and Lolita Claim Victory in PHRF

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Tom Hill’s (San Juan, Puerto Rico) Titan 15, a new 75-foot Reichel-Pugh design that was launched this year at New England Boatworks in Rhode Island, handily won the IRC Division at this weekend’s fifth Ida Lewis Distance Race, which started and ended off Newport, R.I., where host Ida Lewis Yacht Club makes its home. Starting at 3 p.m. on Friday with a fleet of 39 others (divided into classes for IRC, PHRF, PHRF Double-Handed and PHRF Cruising Spinnaker), Titan 15 finished its 150-mile course at 4:42 a.m. on Saturday, covering the distance in just over 13 hours and 42 minutes. (Hill also won the inaugural Ida Lewis Distance Race in 2004.)

Though Titan’s time was the fastest ever logged in this race, it did not qualify as a record, since Race Officials had shortened both of the traditional courses used for this event to insure that Hurricane Bill, stalking northward in the Atlantic Ocean, wouldn’t find a vulnerable fleet on which to pounce if it veered from its predicted course on Sunday. The IRC boats, which normally sail the 177 nm “Montauk” course, instead sailed the 150 nm “Block Island” course typically reserved for the PHRF boats, while The PHRF boats sailed a newly published “Buzzards Bay Tower” course that was just over 103 nm long.

“It was a hell of a race,” said Hill, explaining that Titan was “screaming” both upwind and downwind in the predominately 16-20 knots of wind. “The conditions made for the best sailing we’ve had since putting the boat in the water.”

Mechanical failures dashed any hope for the regatta’s two larger boats — George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) 90-foot sloop Rambler and Irvine Laidlaw’s (Monaco) 82’ Wally yacht Highland Fling—to upstage it. Rambler’s running backstay broke 25 miles into the race, and when the boat crash-tacked to save the mast from falling, the clew ring pulled out of the mainsail. Only minutes before, Highland Fling’s jib cunningham had broken, causing the sail to blow out of the headfoil. A second jib was set, only to have the same thing happen again. While Rambler managed repairs (two crewmen successfully changed out the runner while hoisted near the top of the 130-foot rig), Highland Fling was forced to retire. “It’s hard to win a race with no jib,” said Highland Fling’s captain Xavier Mecoy, who had explained in an earlier interview that this was the boat’s shakedown race and the crew wasn’t sure what to expect.

“We literally had had only 15 sailing hours on the boat,” said Mike Toppa, Highland Fling’s mainsail trimmer for this event. “There were sails we hadn’t even seen yet, but we learned and accomplished a lot.” For the record, Highland Fling smoked upwind before the mishap, and Tom Hill said he was disappointed he didn’t get to pace against the boat going downwind. “She is 25 tons and we’re 16 so maybe we would have been faster, but maybe not,” said Hill.

Rambler wound up second, correcting out at a bit less than two hours behind Titan, while Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) Cookson 40 Privateer took third.

The PHRF class’s scratch boat Cutlass, a Class 40 owned by Nick Halmos and Alex Mehran (both of Newport, R.I.) knocked out their 103-nm mile race in just under 14 hours and 20 minutes.”Upwind is where our boat’s performance is the worst, and three out of four of the legs were reaching and running,” said Mehran, who with Halmos recently won the Bermuda One-Two race both in class and overall.

According to Jonathan Green (Wakefield, Mass.), another class winner from the Bermuda One-Two, winning the Ida Lewis Distance Race’s PRHF Double-Handed class in his Beneteau 351 Jeroboam wasn’t as hard as he expected it to be, because the conditions were straightforward. “What was really great was that it was a fun race. The course they chose to send us on was a blast. You had to choose which way to round Block Island and it had upwind and downwind legs that were tons of fun.”

Winning PHRF Cruising Spinnaker class was Frank Savage’s (Jamestown, R.I.) Lolita, which completed the course in 16 hours and change.

The race is a qualifier for the 2009 New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.

Each boat is greeted at their finish—which is sighted off the deck of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club clubhouse — by a crew of volunteers, powering alongside in one of the club’s committee boats and bearing a congratulatory bottle of champagne. It was from the yacht club’s home on Lime Rock that the heroine Ida Lewis, the female keeper of the Lime Rock Lighthouse in the early 1800s, famously rowed her lifeboat to wherever a sailor was in need. Legend has it that, in daring rescues, she saved 18 lives, each represented by a single star on the Ida Lewis Yacht Club burgee.

Primary sponsors for the Ida Lewis Distance Race are New England Boatworks and North Sails. Other sponsors are Dockwise Yacht Transport, Mac Designs, Media Pro Int’l, Narragansett Beer, the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee, Sea Gear Uniforms and Vineyard Vines.

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Another Recreational Fishing Boat Capsizes

Friday, August 14th, 2009

By Tom Rau, Coast Guard Senior Chief (ret)

This is the third boat capsizing story I’ve written this year. The three capsizing involved 12 recreational fishermen, four of which died. The latest involved a 20-foot fishing boat with a loss of life. Now the story.

August 3, 2009, Manistee, Michigan. According to Manistee County Marine Deputy Steve Block, four fishermen departed Manistee harbor about 1 p.m. for a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. According to the captain of the 20-foot powerboat, they trolled for about two-and-half hours when the mishap occurred.

The captain, other than providing the depth of water of 120 feet at the time of the mishap, was unclear as to his position.
At the time of the mishap, they were reeling in fish on two separate polls. Several waves rolled over the stern, the bow shot skyward, the boat then rolled and capsized. Several fishermen aboard were rather large; if they were at the stern reeling in the fish, that could explain why the bow pitched upward.

None of the fishermen were wearing life jackets. As they clung to the over- turned hull, one of the fisherman drifted away. He hollered out that he could not swim. He removed his shoes and pants to keep afloat. The captain told Block that they attempted to pass him a seat cushion. The last they saw of him was his belly sticking out of the water; then he disappeared.

Block figures they capsized just south of Portage Lake, which is located seven miles north of Manistee Harbor. The captain told Block they dove under the boat, at least three times and finally located the life jackets, which were in the forward bow compartment.

After donning the life jackets, they ran several lines across the over-turned hull in order to hang on to the boat. A flare kit popped to the surface; they then fired off a flare that went undetected.

The boat continued to drift northward. At one point, they reported seeing camera flashes on shore and people walking along the beach, which Block believes was below the Arcadia Golf Club. One of the survivors told Coast Guardsman Ryan Zinky that indeed he had seen golf greens.

As they drifted northward, night fell. At about 2 a.m. one of the fisherman decided to swim to shore in the 65-degree water. After an hour or so he made landfall where he entered a vacant cottage and placed a call to 911. Manistee County Central Dispatch received the call at 3:45 a.m..

Coast Guard boats from Manistee and Frankfort responded along with Manistee sheriff’s marine patrol. “When I arrived on scene, I could see rescue responders from shore shinning their flash lights out into the lake,” said Manistee County Marine Deputy Steve Block. The rescuers on shore reported by radio they could see the over-turned boat and directed Block towards the craft. “When I first spotted them it looked as if they were on a surfboard,” Block said. Both were rescued. The over-turned boat had drifted approximately eight miles north from where it capsized.

Boat Smart Brief

Capsizing Coast Guardsman Ran Zinky told me he was out on Lake Michigan early that afternoon and estimated the wave heights between two and three feet with an occasional four-footer. At the time the boat capsized, two of the larger fishermen were reeling in fish when a series of waves rolled over the stern. The captain attempted to fire up the outboard motor and come ahead, but it failed to start. A square cut-out at the stern allowed the rapid intake of water.

Electronic Gear Cell phones, a marine radio, and GPS all were rendered useless once submerged in water. Had cell phones been sealed in water proof bags within a water proof grab-bag the fishermen could have called for help.

Life Jackets One of the larger fishermen aboard could not swim, yet failed to wear a life jacket. He died. None of the life jackets carried a whistle or night illumination devices. When near the golf course, a whistle or strobe light may well have drawn the eye or ear of those on shore, or nearby boaters. It’s unclear why they didn’t fire off another flare unless the flares drifted off or sank.

Grab Lines That the fishermen ran lines over the hull may well have saved their lives. The captain told Marine Sheriff Deputy Block that it was very difficult hanging onto the hull before they ran the lines. This allowed them to stay with the boat, which is highly recommended. That the one fisherman swam to shore was dicey and absolutely unnecessary had they carried signaling devices, including a dry cell phone—carrying these devices on one’s person can’t be stressed enough.

I discussed the case with Lieutenant Chris Yane, a pilot stationed at CG Traverse Air who was involved in the search. After listening to the details, the veteran pilot said, “It shocks him every time when he hears stories like this. Recreational boaters seem so cavalier. Some fail to realize it’s a complex and hostile environment.”

I told the lieutenant convincing recreational boaters of the dangers of the marine environment can be like convincing hormone driven teens the dangers of sex.

Boat Smart. Wear a life jacket and keep your cell phone zipped up.

Note: On August 7, 2009, a 21-foot powerboat capsized off Ludington Harbor, Lake Michigan. A husband and wife and their two sons clung to the boat in the pre-dawn darkness. A nearby boater heard their cries for help and rescued them. One of the boys was wearing a life jacket, which helped him keep his mother afloat. His life jacket did not carry signaling devices like a whistle, flares or strobe light, not even a glow stick.

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