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Sail Scene - Mid-Atlantic

Sun, wind and spectacular racing close out race week

The weather gods smiled on a fleet of nearly 150 racing sailboats on 70-degree water for Charleston Race Week, held April 17-20. Sailors basked in the sunwaiting for the sea breeze to fill — and fill it did, just like clockwork.

Both the offshore and harbor courses raced their final race in 10-14 knots of cool ocean air, and unpredictable shifts forced the overall winners to earn every hard-fought point.

Travis Wiesleder and his all-pro crew on won the Charleston Race Week Cup Perpetual Trophy for winning the most competitive One-Design class – this year, an easy choice for the 27-boat Melges 24 fleet. started the final day of racing in a tie with Kristen Lane’s Out House, from Marin, California.

The Beneteau 36.7 Echo also barely squeaked out a victory in the PHRF D fleet. The crew of self-described “Charlotte lake sailors” sailed a strong Race Week, and took their class by just two points over the Charleston-based J/35 Arrow.

The J/24 Bash sailed a flawless race to win their class in this final match, winning a new carbon-fiber spinnaker pole from Selden Masts along with other valuable prizes from Gosling’s Rum and Raymarine.

Farr 40 World title settled off Miami

Vincenzo Onorato and his Mascalzone Latino are the 2008 Rolex Farr 40 World Champions, achieving a first in the sailing world – three back-to-back victories in this ultra-competitive one-design class.

“As I told my crew before the start, it is quite impossible to do,” said Onorato of winning again. “But we did it, thank God. It was a tough week.”

What makes this accomplishment even more remarkable is that Onorato had not one, but two substitutes for regular tactician Adrian Stead in Morgan Larson and John Kostecki.

“Driving was a lot of stress for me; I had to tune up with another guy each day,” Onorato said. “John is an incredible talent. To be able to tune up with a guy like him is fantastic.”

Arriving on the dock the moment Mascalzone departed for the first race of the 10-race series, held April 16-19 off Miami Beach, Morgan Larson assisted in the team’s 3-12-1 results that put them into first overall. When Kostecki joined the team the next day, he admitted there was considerable pressure maintaining the standard set before him.

“In such a situation we lost Adrian Stead for a good reason,” said Onorato of Stead who rushed home the day before the regatta for the birth of his first child. Kostecki continued the winning form and helped keep the team at the top of the standings each day, posting all top 10 scores except for a 14th in his first race as tactician.

The American boat Ramrod finished in 7th overall and was the top American boat.

“It’s great to finish in the top 10,” said owner/helmsman Rod Jabin of Annapolis, Md. “We achieved all our objectives, which was to win a race and get in the top 10. I couldn’t be happier really.”

This was his team’s second world championship, having competed in the 2006 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Newport, R.I. Barking Mad, Jim Richardson’s two-time world champion, finished in eighth.

U.S. team wins three silvers in France

After six days of racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week, held April 19-25 in Hyères, France, sailors from the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics clinched silver medals in three classes.

Tim Wadlow of Beverly, Mass., and Chris Rast of San Diego, Calif., in the 49er; Anna Tunnicliffe of Plantation, Fla., in the Laser Radial; and Yngling Team Seven; of Sally Barkow of Nashotah, Wisc.; Carrie Howe of Grosse Pointe, Mich.; and Debbie Capozzi of Bayport, N.Y.; all stood on the podium after the final day’s light and shifty medal race.

As the teams prepare to head to the Olympic Games in Qingdao, China, they have been losing weight and training for the predicted light air regatta in August. All had hoped Hyères would serve as a good training ground for Qingdao-like breezes, but the first three days of the regatta were dogged by heavy winds and big seas. By the medal race, though, the sailors finally found what they were looking for.

Team Seven had the most impressive finish with a bullet in the final race. That was their second win of the series, and it gave them the edge on the tiebreaker with Great Britain’s Yngling team of Sarah Ayton, Pippa Wilson and Sarah Webb. Norwegian Yngling sailors Siren Sundby, Lise Fredriksen, Alexandra Koefoed won gold in the 20-boat fleet by seven points.

In the 49er, Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast had been leading going into the final day’s racing, but after a fifth place in the medal race they lost a tiebreaker and fell second to Xabier Fernandez and Iker Martinez of Spain. Impressively consistent, Wadlow and Rast were the only 49er duo to earn all top 10 finishes among the 41 boats in the eleven-race series.

Anna Tunnicliffe clung to second place in the Laser Radial class, with the 2007 International Sailing Federation’s Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Evi Van Ecker of Belgium only one point behind in the final standings. Over the nine-race series, Tunnicliffe’s worst score was only an eleventh. She had the lowest dropped score in the 78-boat class. Sarah Blanck of Australia earned first place.