Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Fleet 13 spent this past weekend at Carolina Yacht Club’s inaugural and hopefully annual 505 regatta in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Organizers and locals Jay and Charles Smith put on a fantastic show for the twelve teams that assembled from as far as St. Pete, FL and Boston, MA as well as our trio of Chicagoans. The balance of the fleet came from Region II. After the Midwinters in St. Pete in late February, Craig staged his vehicle with USA 7346 and the Longs’ USA 8821 in storage arranged by Jay Smith near Raleigh, NC. Matt Woodworth, who sailed with Craig in Wrightsville, drove down JB Turney’s car, trailer and USA 7611 with the help of his cousin Tyler. With Ned unable to sail this event, I called up Tripp Burd who was stoked to sail; I had to apologize for asking him to sail a “slow boat” for the weekend as his usual ride is an F18. We all arrived late Friday night and made our way to our housing to catch some rest.

Saturday morning dawned with brilliant blue skies, a cool temperature and the promise of, big, big breeze as a massive front rolled through the area. With the first race at noon we had plenty of time to get the boats and ourselves prepared for the day’s racing as the westerly breeze continued to build. One thing we failed to pack was the beef as JB/Tripp (350 lbs) and Craig/Matt (345 lbs) felt a little light given a forecast of breeze in the mid 20s. Tripp and I had never sailed together before so having a first go of it in big breeze was a true baptism by fire. Thankfully, Tripp is an accomplished and experienced high performance sailor so we were both comfortable if rusty in the conditions. The Longs were unable to make it out as their top pintle was badly bent when launching; this damage ended their day. After a few spills by most of the fleet in pre-race practice, race one began with a gusty 16-23kt breeze offshore out of the west.

Locals Charles and Jay Smith were the pathfinder and they opened the gate for the fleet. Bixby/Buttner lead the group left with Moore/Miller to weather on their hip. Turney/Burd bailed to the right and benefited by getting out of the foul current running from the channel mouth and by getting onto the lifted tack first. With great pace Bixby/Buttner lead from the left with Moore/Miller just ducking Turney/Burd, but then passing them on the starboard layline. After rounding, Turney/Burd discovered that our starboard spinnaker sheet had been under the bow. This ended race one for us and sent JB up onto the bow for a session of re-rigging. The remainder of the fleet set kites in the building breeze and charged downwind with plenty of wipeouts. On the second run Moore/Miller, who had taken the lead, successfully gybed, but shortly afterwards stuffed into some chop and watched their mast fold in half ending their regatta. Bixby/Booth held on for the win followed across the line by only Amthor/Romey and Shluter/Renda; there was no one else left. Turney/Burd sailed back down to the RC boat hoping for a second race to find out that we were headed back in towards shore. It was undoubtedly the right decision given the deteriorating conditions; the RC clocked a 37kt gust during the race.

The damage count was two broken masts as Smith/Smith had sadly also sacrificed their stick on the altar of 505 sailing. Craig noted there were also many broken egos in evidence. The fleet regrouped on Saturday night for a delicious taco bar dinner and basketball watching hosted by Jay and Charles Smith’s parents. The great group of support boats captured a lot of video and some fantastic pictures of the day’s sailing.

Sunday seemed like the calm after the storm with warm sunshine and a glassy sea. The fleet sat postponed ashore while the RC monitored the breeze on the ocean. Fortunately, the sea breeze began to fill in and we headed out on the water around 11am. The RC timed the breeze perfectly as teams just began stepping out onto the trapeze at the start of race two of the series. Bixby/Buttner lead out of the left with good pressure and lead around the mark trailed by Turney/Burd, Thompson/Woodworth, and Amthor/Romey. Everyone gybe set to stay in the pressure and headed downhill squared back. Keeping with our weekend theme, Turney/Burd sailed the second leg with the spin sheet again under the bow. Thankfully our teammates Thompson/Woodworth pointed this out to us near the second weather mark. After getting the kite sorted, Turney/Burd had faded to fourth and chose to wire run on starboard out to the left corner while the leaders ran towards the finish. There was just enough pressure for the move to work and Turney/Burd reclaimed second at the finish trailing Bixby/Buttner.

The breeze continued to build to about 8-11kts in race three and settled into 5-10 degree oscillations with slight variations in pressure. Pathfinders Amthor/Romey marked the right side of the leading pack while Thompson/Woodworth and Turney/Burd were able to take advantage of a last left shift to lead around the mark in that order. On the run, the veterans outfoxed the leaders with Bixby/Buttner finding nice pressure after a gybe set to lead around the leeward mark and Amthor/Romey sailing underneath the Chicago boats in better pressure.

Race four began with 12-14 of beautiful breeze and a lengthened course. Amthor/Romey were fast out of the gate and lead from the left ahead of Bixby/Buttner and the Chicago boys. There were few passing lanes in this breeze and the order held to the finish. The last race of the series began in a fresh breeze of 15-18kts. Pathfinders Turney/Burd opened the gate and initially held decent pace with Bixby/Buttner and Thompson/Woodworth to leeward and ahead. Bixby/Buttner showed superior speed to lead around the weather mark trailed by Craig/Matt and JB/Tripp. We all enjoyed the great sailing conditions, but no one was able to find enough leverage to make a pass and the order held to the finish. Congratulations to Ethan and Drew for a solid win!

Thanks are of course due to organizer Jay Smith for the fantastic job he did putting this event together. Carolina Yacht Club put on a great event and the RC did an admirable job with tough conditions. Our PRO for the event was actually a Chicagoan, Vicki Mathews who helped us out at the 2010 North Americans. It was great to have Vicki working with the 505s again. Fleet 13 would also like to thank the Stones for housing us and for showing us such great hospitality. We cannot wait to come back for a future event here.

Sailing observations:

Barberhaulers – a must on Saturday. This is an adjustment that I don’t yet have figured out. Sometimes I feel like we’re reaching off the course and sometimes we feel too “bound up” – more practice needed testing settings on this.

Vang – I was simply sailing with too much on Sunday and I think this is why our speed felt so poor. Thankfully Tripp observed this and helped me get the boat moving.

It was a long drive back to Chicago on Sunday and Monday, but it was well worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Henry and I were talking about it on the water on Saturday, and decided we didn't have them on enough.

    Barberhaulers were the topic of conversation at a daily debrief at a regatta in Santa Cruz a few years back, and Howie's comment was that its not a small or fine-tuned adjustment. When he touches them its either halfway to the rail, or to the rail.

    Henry and I sailed the race on Saturday with them about 1/3 of the way to the rail, and pulled the port side out about halfway on the sail in to see the difference. We weren't next to anyone, so its hard to say for sure, but the boat certainly felt better on starboard tack.