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Sail Scene – New England

New England 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”