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Sailing - Connecticut and New York

New Yorker second in Melges 32 class

Pieter Taselaar went to San Francisco to play with the big boats in the 46th running of the St. Francis Yacht Club series in September and came away with a second-place finish in the Melges 32 class.

Bliksem, Taselaar's boat from Scarsdale, N.Y., led the event for two days, dropping into third place on Day 3. Then it was able to recover a position on the fourth day to finish second in the one-design class of 27 boats. The Italian boat B-lin Sailing, owned by Luca Lalli, took class honors.

"I went the wrong way and the race was over," says Lalli. "With Star, Bliksem, Red and Full Throttle, it is impossible to do what I did and come back; the level is very high."

"People come from all over the world to sail in this event, because it's one of the most challenging sailing venues on the planet," says event chairman Norman Davant.

High winds prevailed on the first day, but dwindled progressively on subsequent days.

NYYC Silver Panda wins team racing title

New York Yacht Club's Silver Panda found itself in a familiar position at the final round of the U.S. Team Racing Championship on Lake Union in Seattle. Silver Panda won its fourth Hinman Trophy in five years and its record fifth overall crown.

After losing in the final series last year to Team Extreme, 3-2, Silver Panda won this year's finale over the West Kirby Hawks, the perennial powerhouse from Great Britain.

The final series was deadlocked at 2. Because of darkness and significant wind shifts, the fifth and deciding race could not be finished. Race 5 started in a southerly wind, but during the sequence a northerly pushed down the lake. The race was immediately blown off at that point. This type of wind shift is not uncommon on Lake Union. Light southerlies ruled most of the day. The shifty winds required several course adjustments.

The tiebreaker edge on margin of victory in the finals went in Silver Panda's favor. Silver Panda went 2-0 against West Kirby during the round-robin races. It was a perfect 7-0 in the final eight-team round-robin and 17-3 in the first two round-robin stages.

Silver Panda won this U.S. Sailing adult national championship in 2002 and 2006-2008. It will qualify for the United States at the 2011 ISAF Team Racing world championship next August in Ireland.

Silver Panda, the 2009 ISAF Team Racing world champions, returned four of the six competitors from last year, including Amanda Callahan of Canton, Mass., Colin Merrick of Portsmouth, R.I., Peter Levesque of Tiverton, R.I., and Carrie Amarante of Wayne, N.J. They were joined this year by Caroline Hall Levesque of Tiverton, N.J. and rejoined by Clay Bischoff of Newport, R.I.

"Against such a talented fleet, this is a great accomplishment. So many races were decided by inches," says Bischoff. "We needed to communicate well and sail with patience. We really put our fleet racing skills to use."

This article originally appeared in the Connecticut and New York Home Waters section of the December 2010 issue.