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Sail Scene

Match racers challenged by variable wind
The U.S. Match Racing Championship wrapped up Sept. 28 after four days of racing, with the title and the Prince of Wales Bowl going to Pequot Yacht Club of Southport, Conn., for a fourth time in the history of the championship.

Dave Perry of Southport, Conn., who was joined by crew David Moffet of Jamestown, R.I., and Chris Museler of Portsmouth, R.I., led the Pequot Yacht Club team. The championship was sailed in Sonars and hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Weather conditions on Long Island Sound were not ideal for sailing the last day. The semifinals were cut short and finals cancelled because of a lack of breeze, after the first three days of the regatta saw moderate-to-heavy wind. This was unfortunate as the final promised a strong chance it would be another repeat of the previous two years: a faceoff between Pequot Yacht Club and King Harbor Yacht Club’s team led by the defending champion Brian Angel of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and sailing with Payson Infelise and Michael Delanty. These two teams have flip-flopped the last few years with Perry winning in 2006, and Angel in 2007 (Angel also won the event in 2005 when Perry did not compete).

Chief umpire Steve Wrigley announced the crown went to Perry’s team via tiebreaker rules.

Perry’s team qualified for the Nation’s Cup regional qualifier in Charleston, S.C., and, if they win, they will move on to the International Sailing Federation’s Nation’s Cup World Event to be held in Malaysia in December.

‘Champions’ regatta racing tight to the finish
It all came down to the final race of sailing’s U.S. Championship of Champions to find out who would take home the crown in a battle of the best in one-design racing. Sailed Sept. 24-27 in Sunfish on Great South Bay out of Sayville Yacht Club, N.Y., the battle was on between Sunfish North American Champion Doug Kaukeinen of Rochester, N.Y. and Thistle National Champion and 2005 Champion of Champions Mike Ingham also from Rochester, N.Y., both sailing out of Rochester Canoe Club.

Going into the final race, Kaukeinen was one point ahead of Ingham. In the first leg of the final race, Ingham was ahead of Kaukeinen, but Kaukeinen passed him at the gate at the leeward mark. Ingham nearly caught up with the Sunfish champion when the wind lightened, but Kaukeinen managed to stay ahead and finished second in the final race, securing his win, while Ingham finished fifth.

After returning to the docks, Kaukeinen said he was a “nervous wreck” going into the final race. Having sailed against Ingham before since they come from the same yacht club, he knew it was going to be a tough one. “It wasn’t over until the very last beat,” he says. Kaukeinen and Ingham both sailed consistent regattas, finishing a total nine and eight races in the top three, respectively.

Bill Lynn of Marblehead, Mass., who qualified for the regatta though the Sonar class, took third place.

Fatality mars European classic yacht regatta
A tragic accident at sea brought sorrow and shock to the first day of the Régates Royales in Cannes, France.

British helmsman and owner of the yacht Safir, Wilfried Tolhurst was struck and killed by the mast of the vessel, which fell following a collision with another boat.

During the regatta, with a brisk wind and storms passing overhead, Safir was veering to the left when it was hit broadside by the U.S. yacht Rowdy, a New York 40 class skippered by Graham Walker and owned by Jonathan Greenwood, which pulled away Safir’s stem brace, causing it to dismast. An immediate sea rescue operation was launched involving the Red Cross and Coast Guard, but all attempts to revive the yacht owner were unsuccessful.

The first regatta scheduled was cancelled as a mark of respect and mourning.

Fickle winds at Women’s Championship
On the final day of racing at the U.S. Women’s Championship for U.S. Sailing’s Adams Cup, the winds at the Oklahoma City Boat Club finally came sweeping down the plains for the final race.

Solid winds at 15 to 18 mph were a big change from the light and shifty breezes of earlier races. Wind or no wind, nothing could keep the highly experienced crew of the San Francisco Yacht Club from continuing their domination of the regatta. San Francisco finished the final race in second-place, which gave them a 25-point lead over their nearest competitor.

“We liked today’s stronger air,” says team skipper Vicki Sodaro of Tiburon, Calif. “It’s closer to what we sail in San Francisco, minus the waves.” Two of the members of the winning team — Sodaro and Stephanie Wondolleck of San Rafael, Calif. — are now both four-time champs. Sodaro has three wins as helm and one as crew, while Wondolleck has one as helm and three as crew. This is the second crew win for Emily French of Blingen, Wash. Katie Maxim of Napa, Calif., rounded out the experienced Californian team that showed their skills with top-three finishes in eight of 11 races.

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue.