Sail Scene LIS Dec 06

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Sailors tested during lumpy Larchmont NOOD

With a marginal northerly drifting across Western Long Island Sound for the second day of the Lands’ End Larchmont NOOD Regatta, Sept. 8 and 9, it was impossible to predict what would happen on either of the two racecourses set up by the Larchmont Yacht Club race committee.

Complicating conditions was a strong southbound current tearing down the Sound, which created one entertaining starting sequence after another — boats port-tacking entire fleets while others struggled to get upwind to the line.

In the Express 37 class, the first to start the day, Mort Weintraub’s Troubador, claimed the pin, tacked immediately to port, and crossed the fleet with ease. Troubador appeared to be running away with the race halfway up the first beat, but Adam Loory’s Soulmate, from the Bronx, N.Y., the series leader going into the race, took a few sterns to get to the right side of the racecourse and put his team right back in the race.

Soulmate managed to claw back to third, Afterglow finished sixth, giving the Bronx-based Express 37 a six-point margin and ultimately the Express 37 East Coast Championship title. Proof of the tricky conditions, Troubador could only muster a fourth from its brilliant start.

Following the Express 37s were the J/109s, and only half the fleet got away when the starting gun went off, and here too was a bit of stern ducking among the leaders to get to the right. Adrien Begley’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen, from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., got away clean to finish the race with a third, beating Steve Furnary’s Patriot across the line and holding onto its overall lead.

The division win earned Begley and his New Jersey-based crew the Lands’ End Larchmont NOOD Overall Trophy, which entitles them a slot at the Caribbean NOOD Regatta Championship in the British Virgin Islands in November, which will be sailed in Beneteau 393s.

In the Farr 395 division, John Aras’ Tsunami, from Rockville Md., won the day’s only race, but Roger Wagner’s Endurance, from Upper Saddle River, N.J., wasn’t far behind; second was enough for Wagner to retain his lead. Roy Halverson’s Crossbow, from Tenafly, N.J., chalked up another win, to complete its sweep in the Beneteau 36.7 division before the wind shut down.

On the regatta’s other circle, the race committee managed to knock off two races, and there was just enough wind to tempt them into a third. But John McArthur, the skipper of the J/30 Smile who’d been battling with Stephen Buzbee’s Blue Meanie in every race of the series, wanted no such thing.

“I was nervous that there was going to be another race,” says McArthur, from Stratford, Conn., whose team won the first and finished second in the next, leaving only one point to spare with Blue Meanie. “I was perfectly happy when I saw the Melges 24s starting to motor in. It was a big lumpy day where you had to keep the bow down; I’m lucky to have a lot of crew that doesn’t mind sitting below all day.”

Arthur Kelley, the skipper of the Frers 33 Brilliant, was also happy to see the race committee pull the plug after two races. With a 2-2 on the day, they’d slipped into first when the morning’s leader, David Nebaur’s Wolverine was called over early and had to restart the second race, managing only a fifth.

There were upsets in the 14-boat Shields and 17-boat J/105 divisions. In the Shields Vincent Monte-Sano and Rob Dailey, from Larchmont, won both races to bump Fred Werblow from the top of the standings. The two teams had been trading firsts and seconds throughout the weekend, but Monte-Sano and Daily owned the day. And in the 105s, Kevin Granger’s Cyan, From New York snatched the overall lead in the final race with a second, capitalizing on the mistakes of the morning’s class leader, Damien Emery’s Eclipse, which coughed up its lead with a 13th in the final race.

Simon Strauss’s Team Gill, from New York was one of two teams to win all of its races — the other was Halverson’s Crossbow — and in doing so, Strauss won the Melges 24 Northeast District Championship.

Grueling conditions pare down Vineyard fleet

The 72nd running of the Vineyard Race may be in the history books but not much room is needed to detail the finishers. Three boats finished the race, the third taking almost two days to do it.

Lora Ann, one of only three boats to complete the grueling race this year, held over Labor Day weekend, was sailed by Rich du Moulin, commodore of the Storm Trysail Club. The Express 37 endured winds of 45 knots and seas up to 12 feet in Block Island Sound.

When the boat called into race headquarters Saturday, du Moulin reported challenging conditions while sailing under a storm jib and double reefed main.

“We’re all pretty wet out here and working hard,” he said

The other two boats to complete the 238-mile race were Snow Lion, the Ker IRC 50 owned by Lawrence Huntington of the New York Yacht Club, and Blue Yankee, the Reichel/Pugh 66 sailed by Robert Towse of Stamford.

Blue Yankee took line honors, finishing at 5:40 p.m. Sept. 2, while Snow Lion finished at 2:30 a.m. Sept. 3.

The weather was the story of the weekend. Twenty-six boats started but all but three dropped out by noon on the second day, unable to continue in the easterly breezes. Steady winds of 30 knots were reported in the Sound the night of Sept. 1 with steep 6- to 8-foot seas from the east making the leg out to Buzzards Bay a rough one.

This year’s Ida Lewis a navigator’s race

Thirteen boats completed the biennial overnight Ida Lewis Distance Race, which began in Newport, R.I., Aug. 18.

Stark Raving Mad, the Reichel/Pugh 66 owned by Jim Madden of Newport Beach, Calif., and sailing in IRC class, crossed the finish line off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport Harbor in less than 23 hours, making it the fastest to complete a two-lap, 175-nautical mile course that twice took the fleet out past Block Island to Montauk Point off Long Island.

New Orleans’ Stephen Murray, skippering his TP52, Decision, won the race on corrected time while New York’s John Brim skippered his Farr 60, Rima, to second; and Bob Towse of Stamford, Conn., took third aboard his Reichel/Pugh 66, Blue Yankee, leaving Stark Raving Mad with a fifth on the scoreboard.

Each boat in the fleet was greeted at the finish by an Ida Lewis committee boat and a bottle of champagne. Though two handicap divisions were to have sailed two separate courses, forecasts of light winds made the race committee opt to have both groups sail the shorter Montauk Course rather than the 245-nautical mile Shinnecock course.

“It was a navigator’s race,” says Andy Lovell, tactician aboard Decision. “There was about 10 knots of breeze when we started, and we saw 14 at one point, but it averaged between 7 and 8 knots.” Lovell explained that Decision went farther north than most boats on its second lap of the course, finding the best breeze closer to the Connecticut shoreline. At the finish, the team had no way of knowing if they had turned in the winning performance, but they wondered if the bottle of champagne was a sign that they had.

“Turns out everyone got the champagne, but we did win!” says Lovell.

Newport’s Tim Woodhouse, skippering his Thompson 35, Rumours, took line honors for the PHRF class and won the class on corrected time, finishing at around 10 p.m. The second-place finisher, Middletown’s Tom Rich, skippering his Peterson 42, Settler, said his mostly teenage crew had a great first-time experience sailing overnight and encountering a whale, which spouted water that sprayed them as they sailed. Finishing third in PHRF was Boston’s Ron O’Hanley, skippering his Swan 48, Privateer.

Optis take over Niantic Bay, Conn.

A total of 372 boats competed in the New England Optimist Championship, Aug. 6-9 in Niantic, Conn. Among the entries were 37 in the Green Fleet, a record turnout for this event and the largest Opti regatta in the United States this year.

Winning in the 41-boat White Fleet was Malcolm Lamphere from Norfolk, V.I.; in the 163-boat Blue Fleet Blue was Ian Stokes from Norfolk, Va.; and the 132-boat Red Fleet was won by Matt Wefer of Glen Head, N.Y.

The Girls Division had 117 boats and was won by Eliza Richartz from Old Lyme, Conn. Richartz was also second overall.

The championship fleet of 335 boats was divided into six divisions making for a challenging starting line averaging 112 boats. Six sets of races were run and racers were able to drop their worst race. www.opti2006.org

N.A. champs crowned in 12 Meter class

A dozen 12 Meters competed off Newport, R.I., from Sept. 21 to 24 in the International 12 Metre Association’s 2006 North American Championships.

In two days of moderate to brisk breezes, six races were held. Racing on the third day was not to be, when the wind roared at 30 knots and the fleet — after a hopeful trip to the race course — was sent in by the Race Committee. A final stormy day mellowed enough for completion of another three races, which determined North American champions in four classes: Grand Prix, Modern, Classic Traditional and Classic Vintage.

Newport’s Clay Deutsch, the defending North American champion in Classic Traditional class, sailing Weatherly, said he could not have prevailed over American Eagle, steered by Tony Chiurco of Princeton, N.J., if only two races had been held on the final day.

“They would have beat us on a tiebreaker, if that had been the case,” said Deutsch. “In the third race we were basically match racing. We were nose to nose at the start and we poked out on them a little, then we squatted on them the rest of the race. They were very even with us in speed during the entire regatta, so we knew that the last race would be a true America’s Cup experience for us either way: we would go home the champs or the chumps.”

Weatherly edged out American Eagle by a single point.

In the Modern division, 2005 North American champion Courageous, owned by Craig Millard of Newport, R.I./Palm Beach, Fla., defended its title with Newport helmsman Jamie Hilton. Though the boat posted victories in all but one race, the competition was still close with the three other 12 Meters in its class.

“The way these 12s are,” said Courageous crewmember Jimmy Gubelmann of Newport, “certain ones thrive in different conditions. For this regatta, we actually thrived in heavy air, a little bit of light air and everything in between.”

The 12 Metre Class’s 2005 World Champion, and North American Champion in Grand Prix class, Edgar Cato of Charlotte, N.C., won the Grand Prix division aboard Hissar KZ 5, with Brad Read of Newport at the helm. The team won six of its nine races.

A host of America’s Cup veterans competed, including Bill Koch of Osterville, Mass./Palm Beach, Fla., who drove Kiwi Magic KZ 7 to third place in Grand Prix division behind Roger Wright’s Brazilian entry Wright on White KZ 3, steered by Lars Grael of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In addition to the North American titles at stake, The Museum of Yachting’s Ted Hood Perpetual Trophy was presented to the yachts with the best records for the 2006 season as determined by six American qualifying regattas. The winners were Onawa US 6, owned by Earl McMillen of Beaufort, S.C., and Chuck Parrish of Vineyard Haven, Mass., in Classic Vintage class; American Eagle in Classic Traditional; Freedom US 30, owned by Ernest Jacquet of Boston in Modern; and USA US 61, owned by Ralph Isham of New York in Grand Prix.

In other news, the International 12 Metre Association launched its 12 Metre Yacht Club with the commissioning of the club’s first station in Newport, R.I. The commissioning took place Sept. 20, to coincide with the start of 2006 North American Championships.

The Newport Station for the 12YC will be officially located at the Clarke Cooke House, on one of Newport’s most famous wharves: Bannister’s. Named as the Station’s “Steward” is America’s Cup legend Gary Jobson of Annapolis, Md.