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Sail Scene - August 2006

Two gold, two bronze at ISAF worlds

U.S. sailors brought home two gold medals and two bronze medals from the 2006 International Sailing Federation World Sailing Games in Lake Neusiedl, Austria.

Paige Railey of Clearwater, Fla., solidified her world No. 1 ranking in the Women’s One-Person Dinghy event, sailed in Laser Radials, by winning another gold medal in a major international event, this one wrapping up May 22.

In addition, demonstrating that the United States is a worldwide leader in team racing, Danny Pletsch of New York; Carrie Howe of Grosse Pointe, Mich.; Caleb Silsby and Paige Hannon of Newport Beach, Calif., won a gold medal in the Open Team Sailing event. They were followed by another U.S. team — Tim Wadlow of Beverly, Mass.; Ery Largay of Beverly, Mass.; Tim Fallon of North Falmouth, Mass.; and Karen Renzulli of Somerville, Mass. — winning the bronze medal in the same event.

Annie Nelson of San Diego, and Susan Korzeniewski of Liverpool, N.Y., also won a bronze medal in the Women’s Multihull event.

In the final race in the Laser Radial, Paige Railey held the advantage over defending World Sailing Games Champion, Sophie de Turckheim of France. The two sailors have gone head-to-head at several regattas recently, with Railey prevailing each time.

She beat de Turckheim in the Medal Race at French Olympic Sailing Week, held a few weeks earlier in Hyères. In the end, Railey crossed the finish line two spots ahead of de Turckheim.

“I came out victorious and with a feeling of such satisfaction that I had learned something,” said Railey, who is the number-one ranked Laser Radial sailor in the world by the International Sailing Federation, and the reigning Laser Radial World Champion.

The U.S. team competed against over 700 sailors from more than 60 nations for 10 World Championship titles.


Florida sailor wins Antigua Race Week

Moments after returning to the dock at the end of the 2006 Rolex Antigua Sailing Week, April 30 to May 5, Roger Sturgeon learned that his TP52, Rosebud, had corrected on time to finish first in class overall over Tom Hill’s Titan from Puerto Rico and Numbers, the Farr 60 owned by Dan Meyers of Boston.

“This is beyond belief,” says Sturgeon of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The win catapulted Rosebud to overall first in class, first in fleet and a coveted Rolex timepiece. “There is no way you can plan to do something like this. It’s the wind gods, karma, luck and all the little things that you can’t plan on. You never know what will happen with the weather.”

Light, shifty wind ranged from 4 knots at the start of both Divisions’ Ocean Race to 12 knots and pouring rain toward the middle and end of the race that took the entire fleet from a start/finish point outside Falmouth Harbour. Both classes were challenged by a range of conditions along the south coast of Antigua with Division A completing about 20 miles, while those in Division B sailed 19 miles in a similar course configuration.

The victory caps off a very successful run for Rosebud, having won many major races and regattas including the 2003 Rolex Big Boat Series, the 2004 Newport-Bermuda Race and March’s BVI Spring Regatta. This is the last time Rosebud will compete as it has been sold and Sturgeon’s sights are on another boat and new regattas.

“When we won the Transpac, in 2005, the boat had an offer on it, and after winning we didn’t have the heart to sell it,” says Sturgeon. “We said we have to do the Caribbean. Last year we were here and missed a mark racing, then missed out on winning. We had to come back here one more time.”


Dates changed for Lauderdale-Jamaica race

The Pineapple Cup-Montego Bay Race, jointly hosted by the Storm Trysail, Lauderdale; and Montego Bay Yacht Clubs and traditionally run during the first week of February, has announced a date change. The race will move from Feb. 2 to Feb. 16, 2007.

Dubbed “the best ocean race in the world” by its devotees, the biennial competition runs 811 nautical miles to Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Fort Lauderdale.

Among the fleet are PHRF and IRC boats ranging from 30 to 85 feet. Tom Hill’s course record holder from the 2005 race, Titan XII, is expected to return to defend his record run, along with 2005 corrected time overall winner Thin Ice and a group of downwind-flying TP52s, all looking for a thrilling sleigh ride through the Bahamas and the Windward Passage to Jamaica.

“The problem we are having with the original date is that Super Bowl XLI is scheduled for Miami on Feb. 4,” says race chairman Ken Batzer. “There are no accommodations available in the area during that weekend. We have heard from several boat owners and expect the date change to be agreeable to everyone.”


U.S. sailors win gold at European regatta

U.S. Sailing Team members Morgan Larson of Capitola, Calif., and Pete Spaulding of Lafayette, Ind., won the gold medal in the 49er fleet at the Holland Regatta, held in May on the IJsselmeer off Medemblik, The Netherlands.

The Holland Regatta is the largest Olympic-class sailing event in the Netherlands, drawing more than 1,000 competitors from 55 countries. Formerly called the SPA Regatta, the event is ranked as a Grade 1 event by the International Sailing Federation.

Larson and Spaulding defeated 29 teams to win the gold medal, after an exciting finish in the harbor. They maintained their top position throughout the four-day regatta, eventually beating teams from Italy and Great Britain for a medal.

Larson and Spaulding came in fourth place in the 49er class at U.S. Sailing’s 2006 Rolex Miami OCR in February.


Charleston sailors win national championship

The College of Charleston women sailors kept their heads down for the final day of racing at the 2006 ISCA National Women’s Dinghy Championship, which wrapped up May 26 on the Cooper River in Charleston, S.C.

The payoff for three days of consistent sailing by the “home team” — a first-ever win of this championship crown. The Charleston Cougars hosted 36 races at their J. Stewart Walker Jr. Sailing Center on the Cooper River.

College of Charleston was able to break away from the pack and hold off several assaults courtesy of seniors Alana O’Reilly of Charleston and Susan Lintern of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, who took over the lead in A-Division on Day 2. In B-Division, freshman Andrea Savage of Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., with sophomore crew Danielle Neri of Newport, R.I., came back from a 16th place finish to win their first race of the final four. The Cougars finished the series with 207 points — a 42-point lead over Georgetown University who finished in second place.

Maintaining their Day 2 positions, St. Mary’s College placed third with 258 points, followed by Stanford University in fourth overall with 259 points. Dartmouth College gained one slot to place fifth overall with 280 points.


Weather shortens Melges 24 NAs

The final day (May 21) of racing at the Melges 24 North American Championship was, quite literally, a wash out with torrential rain and light cyclonic winds. The race committee, jury and 31 Melges 24 crews left the dock ready to attempt a 12:30 p.m. start as scheduled, but it was not to be. The championship came to a close with only six of the 10 scheduled races completed.

Fortunately six races is sufficient to constitute a championship and so Brian Porter from Winnetka, Ill., and his Full Throttle crew of Harry Melges III, Dave Navin and John Porter were declared the 2006 Melges 24 North American Champions by just one point from Newport Beach’s Dave Ullman sailing Pegasus 505 with Bill Hardesty, Brian Hutchinson, Casey Smith and Shana Phelan.

“It was a shame not to race today but those guys did a great job and really deserved to win. When your worst finish is a fourth you deserve to win,” Ullman said.

For the Full Throttle team this win is long overdue. They have been stalwarts of the Melges 24 class since its introduction in 1993 and have won many national events, but an international title constantly eluded them.

“I just love Santa Cruz and its hospitality. I really love racing against Dave Ullman — he’s such a great competitor and to win against him feels real good,” Porter says.


Block Island Race rewards the dedicated

While 103 boats started, only 15 finished the Storm Trysail Club’s 61st annual Block Island Race, which began late Friday Memorial Day weekend on Long Island Sound.

The 185-mile annual distance race hosted one of its largest ever fleets of IRC- and PHRF-rated boats, however, light wind and fog caused much mischief, prompting most of the fleet to retire instead of spending endless hours worrying about when and how to get home.

For overall performance winner Gary Grant, who sailed his J/120, Alibi, in the IRC double-handed division with fellow Westport, Conn., sailor Steve Fisk, the Block Island Race was long but rewarding in the end.

“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of sail changes and little sleep,” says Grant about his difficult round-trip journey from Stamford, Conn., to Block Island. “The beginning of the race gave us encouragement, as we got off the start line with speed and pulled ahead of the fleet before the fog rolled in. After a long night pushing through light shifty winds and fog, our forward progress was stalled early Saturday morning by a foul tide. We dropped anchor off the north shore of Long Island and waited for the wind to build or the tide to turn.”

Grant explains there were two more episodes of agonizing waiting. The first was Saturday night, when they were at the southeast corner of Block Island with no wind and a high swell that caused the boat to rock violently. Grant and Fisk chose to drop sail for two hours, since they were making no headway.

“Thankfully, the tide was sweeping us in the right direction and the wind filled in before we saw any other boats round the corner behind us,” says Grant.

The second was when they sat — for three hours this time — in a wind hole Sunday morning after making it through The Gut.

“To have the sun rise on the Sunday morning of a Block Island Race before you’ve even re-entered the Sound is a discouraging experience,” says Grant.

Winning the Harvey Conover Memorial Trophy for the best performance overall was particularly meaningful to Grant, who says that “being the only boat to finish in a class in a light-air distance race might speak more to the fact that you’re stubborn rather than fast.”

Colin Rath’s Googolplex turned in the best corrected time, 53:25:19, for IRC, while Ron Weiss’s Crazy Horse turned in both the best corrected, 50:40:02, and elapsed time, 50:40:02, for PHRF and best performance by a vintage yacht. Beau van Metre’s Running Tide turned in the best elapsed time 38:16:56 for IRC.

“For comparison,” says STC commodore Rich du Moulin, “Boomerang broke the record in 2002, completing the race in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds.”