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Sail Scene - November 2008

Robin’s rocking return to Classic Yacht Regatta

Ted Hood, 81, and his 1958-launched Robin — a 50-year-old boat he designed himself that many credit as the launching pad of his celebrated yacht-design career — topped the 63-boat fleet at the 29th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta.

Racing on the opening day of the regatta was cancelled after a long postponement on windless waters shrouded in fog and a drizzle of rain. Conditions on Day 2 were a complete turnaround: the fleet of classics, which mixed restored boats dating to the early 1900s with modern “spirit of tradition” yachts of contemporary build and classic styling, was treated to a teen-strength northerly breeze and clear blue skies.

“We had ideal conditions, and a little bit of everything,” says Hood (Portsmouth, R.I.), commenting on the breeze and the 18-mile, round-the-island course with a good balance of upwind and downwind sailing. Among Robin’s crew were Hood’s sons, Rick and Bob, along with several grandchildren.

The schooner Eleonora sails under the Newport Bridge at the Best Life Classic Yacht Regatta held in late August. Venerable designer and sailor Ted Hood helmed his newly restored yacht Robin to the top of the fleet.

Hood’s Robin was a fitting boat to capture overall honors, a boat with enduring qualities that have withstood the test of time. When Hood launched Robin, the first of his big-boat designs, she was considered radical with a centerboard and a tall rig. Her first season, Robin won seven of the 12 races she entered. Hood then turned his talents toward creating a string of fast boats and sails and winning the America’s Cup in 1974, while Robin was sold to a series of different owners. Finding the boat later in disrepair and in need of a refit, Hood purchased Robin back and restored her — a process he estimates as costing five times what her original build cost. But the boat that once turned heads in the 1950s was able to do so again this summer.

Additional trophy winners included defending champion Black Watch, a 68-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl skippered by Richard Breeden of Newport that topped the Best Life Class. Sponsor Panerai presented wall clocks to top performers that championed the competition in their classic category, including: Chips, a 1913 50-foot Burgess-designed sloop skippered by Jed Pearsall of Newport; Zbynek Zak’s Eleanora (Zug, Switzerland), a Herreshoff-designed gaff schooner that measures 135 feet on deck; Equus, a spirit-of-tradition W-46 owned by Jeremy Pochman (Nantucket, Mass.); Sonny, a 1935 Sparkman & Stephens sloop owned by Joe Dockery (Newport, R.I./Greenwich, Conn.) and helmed by George Isdale (Greenwich, Conn.); and White Wings, a 76-foot W-Class sloop entered by Donald Tofias of Newport.

For complete results, visit

Ida Lewis Distance Race delivers variety
While most Rhode Islanders were peacefully sheltered ashore, an elite group of sailors was enjoying an intimate encounter with Mother Nature during the Ida Lewis Distance Race in mid-August.

From off Fort Adams in Narragansett Bay past Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard, Buzzards Tower, to a signature finish inside Newport Harbor, the fourth running of the Ida Lewis Distance Race started Aug. 15, with classes for IRC, PHRF (spinnaker and non-spinnaker), and double-handed boats.

Eleven teams competed, four of those sailing in a handicap-rule class for IRC, four sailing under PHRF and three competing in a double-handed division. The PHRF and double-handed contenders sailed a 150-mile course, while the IRC boats sailed a slightly different, longer course of 177 miles.

A light 10-12 knot breeze marked the start, then sputtered to barely anything overnight, while the teams made their way to Montauk Point, immediately putting the fastest boats behind schedule on an expected early afternoon arrival back at the club the next day.

Sailors were anything but bored, however, when the trip from Montauk to No Man’s Land and then to Buzzard’s Bay Tower served up extreme wind shifts that had them hurrying to change head sails and figure out their next moves.

“We had a three-hour period where we didn’t move even 1 nautical mile,” says Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I. whose Reichel/Pugh 69 Bella Mente, was first to finish — in just more than 24 hours, at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 16 — and won the IRC class. “And in my last 10 years of racing, I don’t think I’ve seen so many sail changes in a single race.”

Because she made it around the course the quickest, Bella Mente missed out on most of the stronger winds of up to 23 knots that made the last 50 miles of the race a “real blast” for the rest of the fleet. A scattering of severe weather cells, marked by fantastic shows of lightning, necessitated close scrutiny of radar systems and “a snaking through” to avoid unwanted encounters.

“It looked pretty scary at times,” says Mike Coe of Milford, Conn., crewman aboard Bill Jurgensen’s winning PHRF entrant Falcon, a Tripp 50 design from Stamford, Conn. “It seemed like the lightning was actually striking all around us.”

Lightning was not the only thing that caught Falcon’s attention. John Brim’s IRC class Reichel/Pugh 55 Rima from Newport, which finished second in the race two years ago, had been close with them up until the Buzzard’s Bay Tower mark, when the IRC fleet had to diverge from the two courses’ common legs to take another leg out to Montauk, while Falcon and the others sailed to a closer mark off Block Island before heading back to Newport. It led the Falcon team to believe that, had they chosen to enter IRC instead of PHRF, they might have done well there, too.

As it was, Falcon finished at around 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16, the second boat past the finish line after Bella Mente. Rima, which wound up fourth in IRC class, finished a little after 8:30 p.m., only 15 seconds behind William Byron’s PHRF entrant Fearless, an Alden 72 from Newport, which finished third in its class.

Jason Richter of Port Jefferson, N.Y., returned to successfully defend his double-handed crown in the J/35 Paladin. Asked why he likes sailing shorthanded in the Ida Lewis Distance Race, he laughed, saying, “I like the punishment. While we’re out there, sometimes we say ‘Why do we do this?’ ”

The last boat to finish was Simon Day’s 21-foot mini Transat boat, Josephine, from Newport, which he, too, sailed with only one additional crew. She finished at 4:15 a.m. Aug. 17, completing the course in just shy of 37 hours.

U.S. sailor has golden moment in China
The 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta concluded Aug. 21 with some strong performances from Team USA. Twenty-five-year-old Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) led the team on the water with a gold medal in the Laser Radial class, the first gold medal for a U.S. female sailor in 20 years. Twenty-four-year-old Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) produced a strong performance in the Finn Class. Railey sailed a solid regatta from beginning to end to bring home the silver medal. This is the U.S.’s first Finn medal since 1992.

“We’re proud of this team,” says Olympic Sailing Committee chairman and team leader Dean Brenner of Wallingford, Conn. “We came here with a young team of 14 first-time Olympians. We are going home with a gold and a silver and a lot to build on for the future.”

Brenner added the program is in the fourth year of a 20-year strategy for improvement and looked forward to greater success at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

High performance director and coach for the U.S. Olympic Sailing program Gary Bodie (Hampton, Va.) notes the two medals were in singlehanded racing.

“We struggled in singlehanded performance for a few quads, so it’s really rewarding to win some singlehanded medals this time,” Bodie says.

The team, class-by-class:

• Laser Radial — Women’s Singlehanded Dinghy

Tunnicliffe won the 28-boat Laser Radial event with 37 points, five points more than Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania and 13 points ahead of bronze medalist Lijia Xu of China.

• Finn — Men’s Heavyweight Dinghy

Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) sailed a smart regatta to jump from medal hopeful with a world ranking of 11th to Olympic silver medalist. “I came here to stand on the podium. My goal was to get a medal,” Railey says. “Now it’s a big relief, and I’m proud to win a medal for the United States.”

• 49er — Skiff

Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.) and Chris Rast (San Diego) found their legs on the third day of 49er racing. They went out and won all three races. By the medal race, they had climbed up from 13th place to contention for both silver and bronze, but an equipment breakdown pulled them out of the running in the 19-boat class. They finished the regatta in sixth.

• Yngling — Women’s Keelboat

Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) battled all week in the Yngling class, but it was not their week. They had flashes of the results that the rest of the Yngling fleet has seen from them for the last four years, but in the end a disappointing medal race performance left them seventh overall.

• Star — Men’s Keelboat

In the Star class, John Dane III (Gulfport, Miss.) and Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.) finished 12th of 16 boats, but not without some impressive results. Sailing in a boat designed for light winds, Dane and Sperry were fast in the breezes under eight knots and able to bring in impressive finishes of second, fourth and fourth. However, once the wind started to pick up on Day 3 they were unable to keep up with the more versatile designs.

• 470 Women — Doublehanded Dinghy

Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.) finished in 12th of the 19 Women’s 470s competing. After a rocky start, they found a groove and finished the event with three top 10 finishes.

• 470 Men — Doublehanded Dinghy

Stu McNay (Lincoln, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego) finished in 13th of their 29-boat fleet. Like the Women’s 470 team, McNay and Biehl saw a slow start, but managed to string together a 1st, 4th, 1st, and 6th.

• Tornado — Multihull

John Lovell (New Orleans) and Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Texas) sailed in their fourth Olympics. Having won silver in 2004 in Athens, the pair decided to gamble on a sail designed for light winds. Without the conditions they needed to make their sail work properly, the pair was held back by their boat speed and could not put forth a competitive performance in the class and finished 15th.

• Laser — Men’s Singlehanded Dinghy

Andrew Campbell (San Diego) is highly decorated with wins in many national and world championship events. Two major penalties took him out of a competitive position in these Olympics, but Campbell was able to win the third race of the series. He finished in 25th in the 43-boat class.

• Women’s RS:X — Windsurfer

Nancy Rios (Miami) entered this 27-boat event ranked 77th in the world. She struggled to keep up with her competitors, but maintained a positive attitude. She finished 26th in the class.

• Men’s RS:X — Windsurfer

Ben Barger (St. Petersburg, Fla.) also competed in his first Olympic Games in 2008. Barger finished 26th out of 35 boards.

For full results, visit

Inaugural invitational cup regatta to debut
New York Yacht Club Commodore Charles H. Townsend announced the inaugural New York Yacht Club World Invitational Cup, an invitational fleet-racing regatta to bring together amateur yacht-club teams to compete against teams from around the world. Organizers say the sailing will be tough and demanding, allowing each club to demonstrate the skills of its top sailors.

“This event will once again bring the Corinthian spirit to the forefront of the sport, and enable us to share the excitement of sailing on the waters of Rhode Island Sound,” says Townsend.

Invitations have been sent to many of the world’s most prominent yacht clubs to compete in this first biennial event, to be held Sept. 15-19, 2009, at Harbour Court, the NYYC’s on-the-water clubhouse in Newport, R.I.

Racing on Rhode Island Sound will be done aboard the newly developed NYYC Swan 42 fleet, with some teams bringing their own boats and others chartering boats through the club.

For information, visit worldinvitationalcup or contact John Mendez, event chair, at Jmendez@ or call (401) 862-5202.

Long Island club wins Hinman Masters

Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, in Oyster Bay, N.Y., won the 2008 New York Yacht Club’s Invitational Regatta for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy — better known as the Hinman Masters.

The three-day team-racing event was sailed at the NYYC’s Harbour Court in Newport, Aug. 15-17. In second place was the New York Yacht Club, and third was Noroton, of Noroton, Conn. Two points each separated the top three teams.

Rounding out the standings was Southern, in New Orleans; Larchmont, in New York; Royal Thames, London, England; and Ida Lewis, Newport. For the Masters, skippers must be at least 45 years old and crews 40. The competition was 3-3 in Sonars with spinnakers — a rare sail in team racing.

Sailing for the winning Seawanhaka Corinthian were Al Constants, team captain; Priscilla Constants; Dave Constants; Gerry Eastman; Hugh Jones; Tom Kinney; Alison Kinney; Gary Van Dis; Robert Capital; Reg Willcocks; Eric Johnson; and Dave Kellegg.

The regatta was named for NYYC Commodore George R. Hinman Sr. (commodore 1959-60), the late father of Commodore George R. Hinman Jr. (commodore 2005-06).

NYYC’s Silver Panda wins U.S. Championship
The U.S. Team Racing Championship had no major upsets in August when, for a third consecutive time and a fourth time overall, team New York Yacht Club Silver Panda won the event, hosted by Erie Yacht Club of Erie, Pa., and sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A., Nautica, LaserPerformance and Dry Creek Vineyard.

The Silver Panda team — made up of Pete Levesque of Tiverton, R.I.; Elizabeth Hall of Washington; Clay Bischoff of Philadelphia; Lisa Keith of Boston; Colin Merrick of Portsmouth, R.I.; and Amanda Callahan of Canton, Mass. — won U.S. Sailing’s George R. Hinman Trophy in convincing style, defeating British team West Kirby Hawks in Sunday’s finals without losing a single race. Silver Panda has once again qualified to represent the United States at the Team Racing World Championship to be held in Australia in early 2009.

“This was a very competitive regatta,” Levesque says. “The fleet was very deep with a lot of high-quality racing.”

New York Yacht Club Silver Panda has dominated team racing on national and international levels in recent years, winning several major team-racing events, including the Team Racing World Championship and the Wilson Trophy. They previously won the U.S. Team Racing Championship in 2002, 2006 and 2007. They will be looking to defend their world title when they hit the waters off Perth, Australia, in January.

Joel Hanneman of Newport, R.I., has for several years been dedicating quite a bit of his time to help grow the sport of team racing, not only in his professional career working as an engineer for event sponsor LaserPerformance, but also as a driving force for the Rhode Island Team Racing Association. In addition, he has developed a team-racing program for keelboats at Beverly Yacht Club in Marion, Mass. For all his efforts and his dedicated commitment, Hanneman was presented with the Gay Lynn Service Award.

Inkiala wins Blind Sailing Championship
Luck was on the side of competitors Aug. 19 for the opening day of the 2008 C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta as a cold front went through Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay with fierce thunderstorms that fortunately split north and south to bypass the area. With predictions for breezier conditions today, racers in the three Paralympic classes who were joined for the first time at this event by the blind sailors racing in J/22s, went back to work on the water as an up-and-down northerly with an ebbing current made for a challenging day.

Luck, however, was not a factor in determining the 2008 Blind Sailing World Championship, which was won by skipper Sengil “Inky” Inkiala (Watertown, Mass.) and crew Nancy Jodoin (West Brookfield, Mass.), sailing with sighted guides Ken Legler (Reading, Mass.) and Harry Berman (Hull, Mass.).

“Communication is important and when he gives me a command I know [exactly] what he means,” says Inkiala, who has sailed with Legler (the head sailing coach at Tufts University) for more than 10 years.

Inkiala’s team started the day with a two-point lead over the team helmed by defending champion Matt Chao (Boston). Chao’s team — crew Deborah Keating (Woburn, Mass.) and sighted guides Peter Frisch (Swampscott, Mass.) and Tom Winston (Charlestown, Mass.) — were able to win only one race on the final day of the series to the four bullets posted by Inkiala whose worst finish — a fourth in the ninth race — was dropped to give his team the championship title with 12 points to the 20 collected by Chao’s team.

Jason Wallenstein (Quincy, Mass.) with Mark Bos (Gloucester, Mass.) and sighted sailors Bill Rapp (Rockport, Mass.) and Lisa O’Connor (Hull, Mass.) finished third overall with 22 points.  

Next March, the teams helmed by Chao and Wallenstein will represent the USA at the 2009 Blind Sailing World Championship in New Zealand.

Complete results are available at

Asian team wins Knickerbocker Cup
Takumi Nakamura of the Albatross Match Racing Team from Japan won the 2008 Knickerbocker Cup and secured an invitation to the Bermuda Gold Cup, a Grade 1 match-racing event that is part of the World Match Racing Tour.

Nakamura, with crew Norio Igea, Nathan Hollerbach and Tetsuya Sasaki, won every Cup match except for one on the first day of racing. Rounding out the top teams was Russian Sergey Musikhin, followed by Australian Keith Swinton and American Chris Van Tol of the Van Tol Match Racing Team.

With Day 4 another windless day on Manhasset Bay and Long Island Sound, the fleet was hard-pressed to finish the final matches. When a southerly finally filled in with just about an hour or so of racing left, the matches were started quickly. With the help of Nakamura and Swinton, competitors were swiftly dispensed. It was Nakamura over Musikhin (2-0) and Swinton over Van Tol (2-0).

Nakamura is a team to watch. They came to the Knickerbocker Cup with a crew that had not sailed together before and won every match except one, which was against Van Tol, last year’s Cup champion. Commodore Robbie Lager remarked that the Albatross Match Racing Team “won several Grade 4 events, went on to a second place in a Grade 3 event and now have won a Grade 2 event. Hopefully, this is the beginning of being launched to be first in a Grade 1 event.”