Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 NA's Regatta Report

The North American 505 contingent traveled to Chicago, Illinois and the Chicago Yacht Club to contest this year’s North American Championship on the waters of Lake Michigan from June 24th-27th. The North American Championship was last held on Lake Michigan in 1978 and was won by 505 legends Dennis Surtees and Pip Pearson. Teams traveled from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, California and Ontario to join the local competitors from the resurgent Fleet 13.

Teams began arriving the preceding weekend and were treated to pleasant practice conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday with temperatures in the 80s and offshore breeze from 10-22kts. Measurement and registration proceeded throughout the day on the 23rd while teams enjoyed practice in advance of powerful thunderstorms forecast for late in the afternoon. After everyone made it in safely from the water, we enjoyed fine Three Floyds beer on tap as we opened the regatta with a few words from Chicago Yacht Club’s Commodore.

The fleet was greeted on day one with wind out of the North at 7-9kts and mostly sunny skies. Race 1 got underway after a scheduled practice start. The early leaders were Shinn/McKeige, Diaz/Barclay, and Martin/Falsone from the left who were able to extend from the pack as the breeze freshened near the top of the course. Teams sailed squared back on the long runs and gains were made in clear lanes and pressure. Race 2 saw the weather mark moved to the east as cumulus clouds began to form over the shore. The breeze was a touch lighter with teams just on the trapeze on the beat. The leaders were able to get and hold a lane on port tack after the start and extend to the right side of the course as the breeze shifted that way about 15 degrees. Holt/Smit had been the rabbit and were in the lead with Diaz/Barclay close behind. The fleet was very close together and rounded the leeward mark in a tight pack. Most of the leaders tacked around the mark on an apparent starboard tack lift and began to work towards the left. The fleet compressed and began to invert as the thermal pulled the breeze further right. Any leverage to the right yielded large gains as the persistent shift came with pressure. Diaz/Barclay were able to hang on while Shinn/McKeige and Miller/Diola also worked the shift to their advantage for second and third. Teams favored a late duck of the gate launch in order to work the right at the start of Race 3. The breeze clocked 15 to 20 degrees before backing slightly as the leaders rounder the weather mark in 4-5kts of breeze. Turney/Turney, Diaz/Barclay, and Boyd/Adams led the fleet down the patchy run. Amthor/Romey, Shinn/McKeige, Martin/Falsone and Thompson/Turner gained on the leaders by holding on starboard around the mark. The leading six boats rounded in a tight pack for the last beat. Amthor/Romey led out to the right with most boats holding lanes on port tack. Light air specialists Holt/Smit realized that everyone else was sailing away from the mark and tacked off to the left. The breeze progressively backed giving Holt/Smit the win as the RC wisely shortened course and finished at the weather mark. The day concluded with a delicious pasta dinner on the great patio at Chicago Yacht Club’s Belmont Station with all of the Three Floyds beer the fleet could drink. Harken blocks were awarded to individual race winners after each day’s racing.

Day two again greeted the fleet with sunshine and 7-11kts from the Southeast. During Race 4, the fleet split after the start with a small group including the locals heading left into the lake and most of the fleet heading right towards shore. After sailing over a mile the leaders from both sides were within feet. Diaz/Barclay led from the right, Turney/Turney from the left and Shinn/McKeige from the right set the pace around the top mark. Diaz/Barclay and Shinn/McKeige gybed to the inside while Turney/Turney held on starboard. Teams held their positions around the leeward mark and headed upwind working the right in a freshening breeze. Diaz/Barclay continued to maintain a slight lead while Shinn/McKeige capitalized on a late right hand shift to pass Turney/Turney at the top mark. On the run Diaz/Barclay and Shinn/McKeige again gybed to the inside. Turney/Turney again held on starboard and found fresh pressure on the left side of the course. They were able to close on the leaders and take the lead by a half boat length just at the finish for the win with Shinn/McKeige second and Diaz/Barclay third. Race 5 began with a 10 to 15 degree shift to the right that saw many teams on the left bail out too early and cross the course. Patience paid off in this race as the breeze eventually backed slightly allowing Turney/Turney to escape the left with Boyd/Adams to leeward leading to the layline. Boyd/Adams led Turney/Turney down the run; the brothers were able to work to the inside of the Canadians with two gybes and pressure. A few teams chose to wire-run on this leg with mixed results. Turney/Turney and Boyd/Adams felt they were able to extend squared back while Holt/Smit made gains on the wire. The breeze on the next leg seemed to have more right in it with large changes in pressure, from 6 -11kts. Turney/Turney were able to extend chased by Martin/Falsone, Boyd/Adams, and Holt/Smit. Teams held on starboard on the run and Turney/Turney took the win comfortably followed by Martin/Falsone and Boyd/Adams. Race 6 started with an initial shift to the right. As the breeze lightened, teams pushed to the sides of the course. A 15 degree shift to the left saw Diaz/Barclay, Miller/Diola, and Shinn/McKeige in good form. There was a late shift back to the right as the fleet rounded the weather mark. The breeze lightened significantly on the run and shifted hard to the right as teams reached on port towards the leeward mark. The last beat saw patchy breeze far out to the sides of the course and the weather mark move about thirty degrees to the right. Shinn/McKeige and Martin/Falsone headed left into the lake while Diaz/Barclay and Turney/Turney worked the right. The breeze was steadier far to the left from the SSE, while teams on the right battled holes and puffs from the SW of 12+kts. Diaz/Barclay were able to hold off Shinn/McKeige while Turney/Turney passed Martin/Falsone on the run. The fleet sailed in for the AGM and cold beer on the patio.

Day three greeted the fleet with heat, humidity and haze. The breeze looked dead on the lake after early morning thunderstorms passed through the area. The fleet was held on shore before heading out around 11am. While it looked like glass near shore, the RC had found 5kts of easterly breeze out in the lake. The fleet slowly made it out just as the breeze shut off causing a postponement. The persistent haze on shore hampered the development of the thermal which began to fill in around 12:30pm. Around 1 o’clock the RC got racing underway. The fleet pushed to the sides with the pathfinder Komar/Miller finding great pressure to tack in and get left. Pressure and a 10 degree left shift saw Komar/Miller with a good lead chased by Diaz/Barclay, Martin/Falsone and Shinn/McKeige. On the run, teams that held on starboard made gains in pressure as there were holes ready to suck in unwary teams. On the second beat teams that continued to work left gained in a persistent shift that lasted the leg. Komar/Miller took the win ahead of Martin/Falsone and Shinn/McKeige. The wind settled in from the ENE for Race 8 at about 6kts. The wind was very steady throughout this race with subtle 5 degree shifts and small changes in pressure. Turney/Turney were the first to tack from the leading pack on the left leading back towards the middle with Key/Buttner and Diaz/Barclay tacking on their hip further left. A touch of pace during this drag race and maybe a slight right shift of the breeze saw the brothers lead around the top mark with Key/Buttner, Diaz/Barclay, and Shinn/McKeige close behind. Turney/Turney found some pressure and were able to extend while the others battled for lanes on the second beat. Diaz/Barclay and Shinn/McKeige battled each other on the last run, sailing high. This allowed Key/Buttner on the left to slip past to take second behind Turney/Turney and ahead of Shinn/McKeige and Diaz/Barclay. The day wrapped up with a great barbeque spread at the club, plenty of tasty Three Floyds brew, and a fun visit from some of the founders and original members of 505 Fleet 13.

The ultimate day of the championship dawned with looming thunderstorms west of Chicago. With the delay the previous day, the RC was planning to run two races in order to complete the scheduled series. With only one throw-out, the championship was still up for grabs with Diaz/Barclay leading on 16 points dropping a 4, Shinn/McKeige on 20 points dropping an 11, Turney/Turney on 24 dropping a 13, and Martin/Falsone on 30 dropping an 8. After being delayed on shore until 10:30am to allow the storms to pass, the fleet headed out and found a fresh 12-15kts from the south. Worried about the potential for more storms, the RC kept the course closer to shore than the previous days. The RC was forced to postpone as the breeze lightened and clocked to the southwest as the front moved to the east. As race 9 started, the regatta leaders gated early heading left. The breeze continued to clock and was helped further right by the proximity of the shore. Teams struggled to locate the weather mark against the shoreline. The breeze shifted back to the left near layline. Turney/Turney who had been leeward and ahead of the fleet capitalized on their leverage and were able to push across the fleet as the breeze backed with pressure. Key/Buttner were also in a good position and trailed around the weather mark. The leaders wire-ran on starboard away from shore before gybing in a nice seam of pressure. Turney/Turney gybed shallow of layline and Key/Buttner were able to work inside of them. Martin/Falsone had worked further offshore and found more pressure to work into the leading trio. A big right shift with pressure saw the leading pack tack and work left. Turney/Turney suffered a failure in the jib cloth system and faded with the loss of speed. The top of the course was very puffy and shifty. Martin/Falsone were able to hold the lead ahead of Key/Buttner. Turney/Turney sailed out of the pressure on the run allowing Shinn/McKeige to work to the inside along with Holt/Smit and Kivney/Russell. The RC moved offshore as the breeze built and clocked further west. The leaders were now Diaz/Barclay on 20, Shinn/McKeige on 23, Martin/Falsone on 31, and Turney/Turney on 33. The RC ran Course 2, a 5 leg W/L. In the shifty and puffy breeze, teams worked hard for leverage and lanes on the first beat. Holt/Smit came charging out of the left with pressure to lead from Miller/Diola, Shinn/McKeige, Turney/Turney, and Martin/Falsone. Teams wired up on starboard in 22+kts for a great downwind ride. The breeze held in a 15-25kt range with 10-25 degrees shifts trending to the right. Holt/Smit and Martin/Falsone extended from a tight pack led by Shinn/McKeige, Diaz/Barclay, Miller/Diola, Amthor/Romey, and Turney/Turney. A spectacular capsize and near collision at the last leeward mark by Shinn/McKeige and Diaz/Barclay kept the regatta tight right until the end. Holt/Smit held on ahead of Martin/Falsone, Amthor/Romey, and Miller/Diola. Diaz/Barclay and Shinn/McKeige recovered to hold fifth and sixth in the race and first and second in the regatta. The top five was rounded out by Martin/Falsone, Turney/Turney, and Holt/Smit.

Racers packed up under sunny skies with plenty of food and beer for all. The awards ceremony was highlighted by the award of the Dennis Surtees service award to great friend of 505s, Dave Ellis, the award of the Dave Cahn sportsmanship trophy to the team of Macy Nelson and Parry Barclay, the top female sailor award to Katrin Deinhardt, and of course the 2010 North American Championship to Augie Diaz and Parry Barclay. Prizes for individual race winners and the top five boats in the series were generously provided by APS, Harken, and Glaser Sails. North Sails Gulf Coast provided a jib that was awarded to the top Under 25 team of Mike Komar and Russell Miller. A great deal of thanks is due to the Chicago Yacht Club, the RC, and the many sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who made this event possible. Congratulations to all on a fine North American Championship; we hope to see you back in Chicago soon.

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