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Sail Scene – Long Island Sound

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U.S. team tops Russians at Knickerbocker Cup

The Bayview Yacht Club Match Racing Team, from Detroit, with skipper Chris Van Tol, Mike Hoey, John Van Tol and Mike Rehe won the 2007 Knickerbocker

Cup, beating Russian Andrew Arbuzov, who led going into the semi-final round with a score of 2-0. It took three races to determine third- and fourth-place winners, with last year’s Cup Champion, Sweden’s Martin Angsell beating American John Loe 2-1 in the Petit Finals.

The pre-start of the first race of the finals had Arbuzov, with Igor Bychkol, Anton Sergeev and Alexander Kapalin, setting the spinnaker to catch up to Van Tol as they raced around the bow of the Race Committee boat. Emerging at the stern, Arbuzov dropped spinnaker, rounding up to sneak between Van Tol and the committee boat. Van Tol protested, but it did not hold; however Van Tol was able to maintain an advantage at the start and held it throughout the race.

Race 2 of the finals had both teams neck-and-neck approaching the starting line. At the gun Van Tol covered Arbuzov’s air and shot ahead to take a huge lead that lasted throughout the race. A jubilant team crossed the finish line in style, with hugs and high fives all around.

During the awards ceremony, Chris Van Tol let on that they call themselves the “zero to hero” team. He explained, “We were here last year and only managed to win one race. We put it together this year by practicing a lot. Each race had us gaining momentum and confidence and by the time we got into the finals, we nailed it.”

The event celebrated the Silver Anniversary for the Knickerbocker Cup. Edward du Moulin — a past Commodore of Knickerbocker Yacht Club, a member of the New York Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club, and an inductee into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame — founded the Knickerbocker Cup with his friend Arthur Knapp. The two friends had just returned from the Congressional Cup in California and thought it would be a good idea to bring match racing to the East Coast.

Northeast 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.

Hinman Masters won by New York Yacht Club

The Hinman Masters, more formally known as the Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy, was sailed at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court in Newport, R.I., in August.

The team-racing event is for those “on the shady side of 40.” After four complete round robins, or 48 total races, the team from the host New York Yacht Club won the event with 12 points. In second place was the Noroton Yacht Club, tied with Larchmont on points until the tie-breaking protocol worked its magic. Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club was fourth; St. Francis, fifth and Southern Yacht Club, sixth.

Racing was initially delayed as a robust breeze from the northwest — with gusts over 25 knots — kicked in. The race committee waited until 2 p.m. to start the racing that ran until 7.

The team captain for the NYYC was Phil Lotz; other skippers for the winning team were Bill Tripp and former-Commodore George R. Hinman Jr., whose father, George R. Hinman Sr. — commodore of the NYYC in 1959-’60 — is the namesake of the regatta. The event chair was Peter Benedetto. www.nyyc.org

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.”

Newport sailor takes Shields Nationals

Thirty-one entries from as far away as Chicago participated in the Shields National Championships hosted by the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in mid-August. Seven races were sailed over the three-day regatta.

In an incredibly tight field it all came down to the final day, which saw winds from 20 to 30 knots and a number of boats withdrawing or experiencing gear failure. In the end, 1 point separated the top three finishers.

The winner was Peter Denton of Newport, R.I., with 28 points followed by Ted Fischer of Providence, R.I., and Jonathan Pope of Mattapoisett, Mass., both with 29 points. Ted Fischer took second on the tiebreaker.