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Sail Scene – Florida & the South

New Orleans sailor delivers a close finish

Competition at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship, hosted Sept. 5 to 9 at Bayview Yacht Club (Detroit), came down to a photo finish in the final round

that was so close even skippers Liz Baylis (San Rafael, Calif.) and Katy Pilley-Lovell (New Orleans) were not certain who the victor was until the race committee signaled.

As both skippers crossed at opposite ends of the finish, Baylis — racing with Cory Sertl (Rochester, N.Y.) and Susanne Leech (Simsbury, Conn.) — became a two-time winner of the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy, the perpetual trophy awarded to the winner of this US Sailing championship.

“This was a full-on team effort,” said Baylis after racing. “Suzy and Cory did a great job and kept us focused.”

Pilley-Lovell, sailing with Dana Riley (San Francisco) and Alice Manard (Charleston, S.C.), captured the Mrs. Charles Adams Trophy for the third consecutive year. In her fight to the finals this year, she achieved an upset by beating Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) in the semifinals.

Up until the semifinal round, Tunnicliffe — currently ranked the world’s No. 1 Laser Radial sailor and a recent gold medalist at The Good Luck Beijing – 2007 Qingdao International Regatta, racing in Detroit with Liz Bower (Rochester, N.Y.) and Jean “Ali” Sharp (Annapolis, Md.) — had sailed a flawless 12-0 series, standing as the only skipper who had not yet lost a match after three days of racing.

Tunnicliffe faced defending champion Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) in the Petit-Finals. Capozzi — sailing with Lindsay Bartel (Annapolis, Md.) and Sharon Ferris (Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand) — captured the first race after a close lead-changing contest with Tunnicliffe, and then sailed on to win the second race and the Petit-Final match.

American wins gold at Qingdao test event

Team USA’s Anna Tunnicliffe won a gold medal in the Laser Radial class at The Good Luck Beijing – 2007 Qingdao International Regatta in Qingdao, China, the second test event before the 2008 Olympic Games. With a new gold charm circling her neck and arms outstretched in victory, Tunnicliffe basked on the top step of the podium in front of an American flag.

“The awards ceremony was an amazing experience,” said Tunnicliffe. “It really makes me want to come back and do it again next year at the Olympics.”

The Radials enjoyed a southeasterly breeze of about 8-10 knots for the Medal Race, and raced close to the breakwater, where spectators watched the action. Heading into the Medal Race, Tunnicliffe held an 11-point cushion and the promise of a medal. The final race proved to be a match race between her and her longtime competitor, New Zealand’s Jo Aleh, who she didn’t let out of her sight. Tunnicliffe said her primary goal was to slow Aleh down as much as possible, forcing her to stay far enough away from the rest of the fleet. Even though Aleh finished ahead of Tunnicliffe, who finished 10th, she wasn’t able to put enough boats between them to grab Tunnicliffe’s gold medal.

Team USA’s Yngling boat suffered a crushing blow on the final day when a split-second timing error in the Medal Race knocked them out of medal contention. After an uncertain start, they pressed on and led the fleet at the windward mark, but then realized they were, in fact, over. They accepted an OCS and finished the regatta in fourth overall. “We had worked on time and distance and thought we had it right,” said a disappointed Sally Barkow.

Dean Brenner, the team leader at this event and chairman of the Olympic Sailing Program, was upbeat about the team’s overall performance in Qingdao. “Team USA had a good event here in China, with some successes, some disappointments and plenty of lessons learned,” he said. “Anna’s Gold Medal in the Laser Radial proves again what was already clear: She’s a major player internationally. And our performances in the 49er and the Yngling also demonstrate our strengths in those events.”

American Farr 40 sailor tops European field

The initials B. M. seemed to be the key to success at this fourth edition of the Rolex Baltic Week. They stand for American Jim Richardson’s Farr 40 Barking Mad well as for the Melges 24 Blu Moon from Switzerland. Both boats won their competitions at the international sailing week, held in mid-August in Neustadt/Holstein, Germany on the Baltic Sea.

By winning the event, Barking Mad — with tactician Terry Hutchinson on board — also turned out to be the glorious winner of the European Circuit, the grand prix regatta series of the prestigious international Farr 40 class. Italian helmsman Flavio Favini brought Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon to win the European Championship of the international Melges 24 class.

“It was an absolutely successful opening for our class in Germany,” said Richardson, president of the international Farr 40 class association. “The race committee managed the difficult conditions on the water with shifting winds in an outstanding way. The support ashore and the general conditions were perfect.”

Nine races in three days saw a superior Barking Mad ahead of the Australian Kokomo owned by Sue and Lang Walker, who also finished second in the European Circuit. The Farr 40 Opus One placed fourth being the best German yacht with Wolfgang Stolz at the helm behind Olli-Pekka Lumijaervis’ Siragusawa from Finland.

U.S. crew earns podium at Farr 40 Worlds

What a difference a few hours made for the final day of racing at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in Copenhagen, Denmark. After a delayed start of over three hours, patience paid off for the race committee that managed to add one final race to the score line, with nine races run in total.

Winner overall and World Champion Vincenzo Onorato and his team on Mascalzone Latino from Italy didn’t need much to lock in their lead, finishing with a healthy 35-point lead over second-place Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi.

Mascalzone becomes the second team to win the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds twice — American Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad is the other — though the Italian team is the first to do it back-to-back.

The 2008 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship will take place in Miami Beach, Fla., April 16 to 19.

Clagett winners celebrate at Sail Newport

An exciting finale was on tap at the fifth annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta, hosted by Sail Newport, as three days of racing wrapped up on Narragansett Bay at the end of August.

Five boats raced in both the SKUD 18 and 2.4 Metre classes, and eight in the Sonar, around the course through seaweed and in light and shifty winds that never topped 10 knots.

Scott Whitman of Brick, N.J., and Julia Dorsett of West Chester, Pa., fleet leaders in the SKUD 18s after winning all three of the final day’s races, posted finishes of 3-1-2. That tied them at 17 points with Karen Mitchell of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and 2004 Sonar Paralympic Bronze Medalist J.P. Creignou of St. Petersburg, Fla., who finished 1-2-5, with Whitman and Dorsett prevailing in the tiebreaker.

In the Sonar class, Rick Doerr of Clifton, N.J., Tim Angle of Somerville, Mass., and Bill Donohue of Brick, N.J., hooked a mark in the first race of the final day during a confused mark rounding. Retiring from that race, they picked up nine points, subsequently adding 5-4 for 25 points overall to end the series where they started — first overall.

Ming Xue Qi of China improved from second overall in the 2.4 Metre class as finishes of 1-3-2 gave him 21 points and the fleet win. Mark Leblanc of New Orleans also made a big move — from fourth to second overall — with finishes of 3-2-1.