We’ve already had a few videos this week, courtesy of the Toliva Shoals Race. See Monday’s post and the sailish.com Facebook Page (and lots of other places). If you have videos from Toliva Shoal (or other events) keep sending them in. We can make it a Wet Thursday and Wet Friday.
Onboard Kenelm Russell’s Freya 39 Rushwind, his daughter managed to get some footage of a relatively cockpit in a relatively frenetic race. You can get an idea of how much wind there was toward the end of the second video, when there’s but a postage stamp’s worth of headsail out, the main’s furled, and they’re charging to weather. Here are the vids:
And from Alert Reader Allison Garnette from onboard Folie ‘a Deux:
Toliva Shoal 2018
I have been sailing on and off my entire life and never have I sailed in conditions like we had in the South Puget Sound on February the 17th, 2018. I crew on Folie ‘a Deux, a 35′ Beneteau skippered by Jeff and Joy Johnson. With a crew of seven we did not expect to place very high, we just hoped to finish in one piece. As the day progressed, we focused on staying aboard, not breaking anything and not drowning the cockpit. We only succeeded in staying aboard. By the end, we had lost two battens from the jib, fully flooded the cockpit and buried the bow a few too many times. When we started we never would have thought that we’d be the only boat in our class to finish, taking first by default.
My absolute favorite memory of the day is from when I was working the leeward jib sheet as we hardened up just south of the shoal mark. We were heeled over at a good 30-40 degrees, there were at least 3′ swells with impressive white caps and then we got hit with a gust of who knows how many knots. Needless to say, we had lifelines in the water, waves coming over the windward rail and water pouring into the cockpit. I ended up thigh-deep in the Sound bracing against the water crashing into my chest as it sheeted across the deck and over the rails. It was fantastic!
Throughout the race we learned about the capabilities of both our crew and our trusty vessel. Most importantly, we found that we can keep calm and still have fun when faced with such exciting conditions. I have to commend each and every sailor who came out for the race and made 2018’s Toliva Shoal the most memorable yet.
Alison Garnett, Folie ‘a Deux
Ed. Note: Thanks, Allison. It sounds like an exciting, but not too exciting, race for you guys.
Greg Slyngstad’s American Bieker 53 multihull Fujin has capsized during the RORC Caribbean 600. All eight crew are safe.
Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by until Dutch/ French authorities organised a rescue vessel. Preparations are now underway to transfer all crew to the safety of Port Saba.
RORC Race Manager Chris Stone issued a statement on behalf of the race organisers, The Royal Ocean Racing Club:
“On Monday 19th February at 20:20 AST, Fujin capsized close to Saba Island and the eight-man crew were observed standing on the up-turned hull. All of the crew are now safe. Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by while rescue agencies co-ordinated the rescue efforts.
Jens Kellinhusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna altered course to assist, but has now continued racing. The Coastguard at Fort De France Martinique has been co-ordinating the rescue.”
The highly experienced crew on Fujin from Seattle, Washington, USA include the skipper Greg Slyngstad, the boat’s designer, Paul Bieker and Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan McKee.
Fujin’s Crew: Greg Slyngstad, Bradley Baker, Peter F Johnston, Paul Bieker, Gina Borza, Fritz Lanzinger, Michael Leslie, Jonathan McKee.
Hey, while the South Sounders were getting a little tough love from Mother Nature, up here in the San Juans we had our own go round with the elements. President’s Day Weekend is always the date for going around Shaw Island in the winter, when there is wind, more likely than not. 2018 was no exception. 21 boats registered, which is right about the average over the years.
Photos by Matt Nelson and a nice guy on a fishing boat for the photos.
Despite the breezy forecast, the race started just after the ferry departing Orcas had cleared the course, in light and patchy breeze, with the fleet heading east through Harney Channel. As soon as the fleet rounded the corner into Upright Channel it was a whole ‘nother world. #1’s were quickly peeled to #3’s, and much of the fleet put in a reef to bash south towards San Juan Channel in 25-30 kts. Sir Isaac, the unmistakable, schooner-rigged Burns 47, saw 37 knots, which seemed just fine as they sliced upwind double-handed under jib and jigger. Several of the under 30’ fleet quickly turned tail back home to fight another day. The bigger boats quickly reached San Juan Channel and were able to crack off a touch for a fast, close reach towards Wasp Passage. Time Bandit, the local J/120, led the way, and even they had a few knockdown wipeouts as the puffs slammed onto the water after tumbling over San Juan Island. The most surprising thing to me, at least, was that I had to reach for my sunglasses, as the heavy morning rain gave way to glorious sunshine and increasing breeze. Wasp Passage is a notoriously fickle, narrow section of the course that has served up many a winner and loser over the years, but with the wind blowing straight up Wasp Passage, this year, the only question was kite or no kite. Most boats, satisfied with 10+ knots over the water, opted for some version of wing on wing, after accounting for the small margin for error the narrow waterway provided. Eager to make up for the extra time needed to beat upwind for almost 2 hours with a 24’ waterline, only Spadefoot and Wild Rumpus opted for the “go big or go home” option. Spadefoot had a satisfying run seeing 15 knots on the fun meter, followed quickly by the boom on centerline and the kite streaming back against the spreaders, followed by another quick burst, threading the needle between sailing too low and collapsing the kite or running into the wind shadow of Shaw. Wild Rumpus had a “Wild” ride that ended beautifully, but prematurely (see photos).
In the end, Division I was taken by the slow boat in the class, Chinook (Cal 39), and Wild Rumpus (SC 27) went big to take Div. II where finishing was the major accomplishment. Only half of the entire fleet finished, and sadly, two rigs were sacrificed to the wind gods.
By Justin Wolfe (Ed. Note: Thanks Justin for coming up with this – it helps so much!)
Some Breakdowns Happen When You’re Headed Home
We’re not quite done yet. My friend Mike Powell recently bought the J/33 Keet with partner Brian Lawrence. I’ll let him tell you the story:
We had finished the Shaw Island race in 30+ kts for most of the race and were on a great run home with the kite up, running deep out of Obstruction Pass and heading across Rosario Strait. Wind had died a bit compared to the race and was in the 25+kts range. The boat broached to weather and spun around the pole when it dipped in the water. That set up a forced gybe and the rig broke like it was a plastic straw right at the lower spreader then again below that, not sure which went first. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened.
No one was hurt or even acted shaken much after the dis-masting (it had been such a roller coaster on the race that this didn’t feel that much different) and we had plenty of water around us to take a moment and consider our next move. The plan was to secure the rig to the starboard side of Keet and get all lines controlled or out of the water so we could use the motor. We cut the head off the spinnaker as we couldn’t reach the mast head or get the halyards to move. We then cut the head off the mainsail and cut it along the bolt rope to remove windage, we were still moving at 6kts. More mooring lines lashed the mast in place and secured the still in-tacked shrouds and forestay.
Once we were squared away we motored home and still made it before sunset after the race. Fortunately another Bellingham boat Intuition with the Johannessens’ and crew onboard stood by while we secured everything and escorted us home.
There’s nothing like a little carnage to get the racing blood boiling. The Toliva Shoal Race, third in the South Sound Series, was raced on Saturday. We can talk about race tactics, but it seems like it was mainly an exercise of survival on the course. Details are still coming in, and apologies for anything inaccurate or missing, but here’s what we have so far:
Broken finger onboard Korina Korina.
Broken boom on Equus.
Blown up chute on Cherokee.
Lost rudder and engine issues on Zig Zag, had to be towed from the McNeil Island area.
Torn main on Les Cheveux Blanc.
Lost backstay on Flying Circus.
Rig issues on Bodacious.
By all accounts Bruce had it right on Friday’s Brief, and the gusts that knocked boats silly sure seemed to be in the 40s. The wind came through on bursts, taking a what seemed like a challenging but under control run into a broach crisis. The boats that made it to Toliva Shoal then faced a brutal upwind. Some came in under headsail alone. There were 19 finishers and over 50 entries. Winners included Jam, String Theory, Leucothea, Lightly Salted, Redline, Folie ‘a Deux, Cherokee, White Squall and Jolly Rumbalow. Results.
According to Kenelm Russell, who’s done “nearly all of them,” this one was the windiest. Not too much for his Fast Passage 39, which he sailed as a family affair including sons, daughter and brother. The mainsail had to come down when the reefing line snapped, and two windows were knocked out because of flailing sheets, but none of it was too much for the Fast Passage Rushwind. Rushwind, after all, has been around the Pacific twice and up to Alaska. (Note to self, now that’s a cruiser racer. They still exist!)He notes that Balch Passage was memorable. “It was frothy white – like sailing through foam,” Russell.
In a race like this, it’s best to let the pictures and videos give the explanations, so I’ve included a lot of them.
The Puget Sound Star fleet is a wonderful anomaly. It boasts some of the finest skippers to ever touch a Star tiller in Bill and Carl Buchan, and is one of the more welcoming fleets around. When I came to Seattle nearly 30 years ago one of my first races was on a Star by invitation of Foss Miller. It’s clear Foss and the fleet are still eager to build the Star fleet and community, initiating a loaner boat program for the season.
The Star itself is somewhat of an anomaly. Designed in 2011 by Francis Sweisguth, it’s an overcanvassed (by yesterday’s standards anyway) 22′ chined keelboat. Once upon a time it was identified with the Olympics, but it’s been in and out of that designation a couple of times (currently out). I’m not sure Star sailors care that much. Now they even have the professional Star Sailors League. The best sailors still look to this class as the ultimate proving ground for tweaking, tactics and teamwork. Stars glide along nicely in 5 knots of wind and can pound in relatively big seas and 20 knots. To sail them at their best in those conditions, size and strength matter. No, it doesn’t have a sprit (or spinnaker for that matter), and doesn’t reach at 20 knots, but it remains the premier puzzle for the elite of the sport. The relatively small keel rudder combination and the sail area configuration put a premium on getting everything juuuuuuussssst right.
Locally we have the Puget Sound fleet dry-sailed out of Shilshole and wet-sailed fleet of classic Stars in Budd Inlet (Olympia). (I’d like to know about other active fleets in the Northwest) The Budd Inlet Fleet has a great program of getting butts in boats as well.
So, it comes as no surprise that the Puget Sound fleet is reaching out to potential Star sailors with these programs.
SAIL STARS WITH THE STARS!
Ever want to try sailing a Starboat but didn’t know where to start? Now you can!
The Star, an Olympic class boat for a century, has spawned some of the best sailors in the world. Many of them are right here in Puget Sound.
The Star is incredibly fun to sail, and the fleet is friendly and always ready to help a newcomer out.
The Puget Sound Starboat fleet currently has 3 Stars available for loaner use, and is hosting a Star training clinic as well. Details below:
Cost: Port of Seattle dry storage fee: $232.54/month.Insurance is covered.
It’s been a week now, and the Sailing World Cup Miami is in the books. It is great tracking the PNW women in their campaigns. To compete at that level is very special, and these young women are doing the Northwest proud. Here’s a retrospective on how it went for them all.
In the Laser Radial class we have Hanne Weaver. While she would certainly have liked a higher finish, she was the fifth US sailor. Hanne was kind enough to share her thoughts:
Miami World Cup for me was a challenge. I had a hard time getting off the line this year. I had a training camp prior in Miami at the beginning of January with the USA Sailing Team. That helped me a lot with windy condition. I came early to Miami World Cup to do more training before the event start. I perfected my down winds and increased my boat speed. Like always the training days are never like the regatta. It was lighter the first two days of racing. The Laser Radial class didn’t race the first day due to that lack of wind. The next day we started first. I had a difficult time getting off the line which made it very hard to pass boats. I didn’t finish that great. After that it became windy, I don’t think it got below 20knots. It was all about hiking hard and hitting the left, and don’t tip over. On the 26th all classes didn’t race due to the high winds that came through, but the last day we races 3 races in once again 20+ knots. I made a few mistakes up the course by tacking too late or not getting on that wave on the downwind. I took this regatta as I have nothing to lose. I didn’t start out that great but I ended on a good note. Just because you have a bad first few races doesn’t mean you should give up. Anything can happen when you have a 5-day regatta.
Looking ahead toward the Olympic berth, we have Paige Railey still on top after taking some time off. She’ll be trying to make her third Olympic Games. All the Radial sailors will be pushing her hard, and at age 30 Paige is by no means the youngest in the class. This will be a fun class to watch in the coming months and I know a whole lot of Northwest Laser sailors who are rooting for Hanne.
Don’t look now, but here comes Kate Shaner in the 49erFX class. She along with crew Charlotte Mack are newcomers to the game and gaining speed and technique by leaps and bounds. Best of all, you just have to like the attitude. You can see in the pictures and from her writing that Kate is enjoying herself. That is, I believe, the foundation of boatspeed. You gotta love it. Kate wrote about the event on her web site, and has allowed us to share it hear as well:
We’ve just wrapped up our first international competition as a team. Last week Biscayne Bay played host to over 500 top notch sailors from all over the world. While our scoreline shows less than stellar finishes, we progressed by leaps and bounds each day of the event, and the inspiring level of competition and incredible atmosphere gave us motivation to take lessons learned back to our training. Huge thanks to the event organizers and our event coach Udi Gal for getting us through the week!
Day one of the event saw light to nonexistent breeze; the FX fleet waited several hours on shore before finally launching and getting in two light races. The first, we struggled with keeping speed and height through the lulls. By the second race however, we sorted through the changes that needed to be made to our upwind technique and earned a top ten finish.
Day two was slightly windier, enough to bring the boats to full power. Light to moderate conditions de-emphasize boat speed– everyone goes fast. The most important part of the races by far were the starts, which we struggled with. Our lateral positioning against boats and accelerations were good, but we were too far back from the line. We intend on putting in some solid hours of starting line practice these next few months.Day three got “fresh.” Wind gusted from 18 – 25 knots, sea state was 3-5 ft short chop. The FX course was downwind of the harbor, boats had to execute well timed bear-aways and jibes just to make it to the race. A few boats turned around and wentin immediately. It took most of the fleet several attempts to turn down before making it to the course. After our second try, our coach gave us our helmets to wear. Helmets are a relatively new piece of safety equipment in sailing. While serious head injuries do happen relatively frequently, especially in skiff sailing, sailors prefer to have their heads free to feel the wind. Most of us don’t wear them, even if we should. Neither of us had ever worn one in competition. Putting them on, however, took away the fear of injury and gave us both the confidence to push ourselves in difficult conditions. Any thought of hiding onshore with the other new teams vanished. We made it to the line in plenty of time for our start.
We approached the race with more “can do” attitude than technical ability; our upwind speed was off the pace slightly. This didn’t matter too much. Half the fleet capsized at the first windward mark. We waited for an easy wave set before bearing away, and nearly impaled a poorly placed coach boat in the process but got the kite up cleanly. We executed a stable jibe in the corner, where many others flipped, and came screaming in to the leeward gate. Unfortunately, when we arrived another boat had flipped with their mast across it, making it impossible to get through. We flipped avoiding them.
The boat came up quickly, and instead of attempting to bear away again, we backed our sails to slide between the gates, then turned upwind. The breeze built, and we bounced off wave peaks up the course, our centerboard coming out of the water. We’d gained some confidence in our tacks, and were able to use them to gain advantage on a few faster boats before the windward mark. We got around clean, and then looked for a good spot to jibe into the finish. A missed grab on the main sheet lead to our second capsize. This took longer to right as we had to douse the kite in the water.
When we came upright, we didn’t risk putting it back up. We reached, both of us on the back corner on the wing, straight towards the finish. We were in 7th place, 20 boat lengths from the finish line when the time limit expired. Five boats finished within the time limit.While it was disappointing to miss out on a top 10 finish by minutes, it was encouraging to know that after 27 days in the boat together we could put up a good fight. There was no racing the next day due to too much breeze. No classes sailed. Qualifying series was over. However, the opportunity to watch the medal races the next day and learn from the top 10 teams in the men’s and women’s fleets gave us a better idea of the target to aim for. Over the next few months, we will continue training and begin to focus on the specific mechanics that define excellence in our class. Can’t wait to get back on the water.
We’ve already been lucky to get a check-in from Helena Scutt (originally of Kirkland, Washington) during the Miami event. Along with skipper Bora Gulari, she’s tackling the relatively new Nacra 17 foiling catamaran. To hear her describe crewing on the beast, it sounds like she’s moving all the time. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a bunch of guys on bicycles powering hydraulics to adjust the foils like they did in the America’s Cup. And, really, I’m guessing here. Gulari and Scutt capsized in the medal race, but the bigger point is they made it to the medal race after a very limited time sailing together.
Last Saturday Seattle YC hosted an informational meeting on ORC scoring, led by Ian Lloyd of ORC-Canada. It’s great to see the racing community gathering and spreading information. First off there’s a summary by organizer Sue Weiss, who is a scorer with SYC. Then we have impressions from attendee William Bonner. While it appears this was fairy focused on scoring, this kind of meeting certainly expands the community’s familiarity with the system. Let’s keep the conversation going about how to get more butts in boats, whether it’s ORC, PHRF, one-design or just “hey, I’ll meet you on the water!” Send sailish.com your thoughts, and we’ll try to get it posted. A sailish.com reader is even undertaking the task of explaining in plain terms what ORC and PHRF are really about. Stay tuned!
Summary from Sue Weiss to the attendees:
First – a huge thank you to Ian Lloyd for preparing a 16 page hand that will help us review major concepts. It was a lot of absorb in 2 hours and I hope participants review it in the following months. I appreciate everyone’s workshop comments.
My observations and takeaways – and everyone is encouraged to enter into the discussion, agree and/or disagree with them.
Sailwave is a favorite scoring program locally. Racers are used to the one PHRF number and can easily figure out how they did in comparison to another boat.
ORC has more ratings depending on what rating system the YC (aka Organizing Authority) has said they would use – one rating or triple ratings. The number and kind of ratings (TOT and/or TOD, Windward/Leeward or Coastal Long Distance) need to be explicitly stated in the NOR and SIs and that the wind speed decided by the Race Committee is not subject to redress.
ORC Scorer does not have the sail number entry system that Sailwave has (great observation) (Sail Number Wizard), however time results could be entered by boat name, similar to a check in sheet.
Racers can see potential result changes that different wind conditions and type of race would make with a simple ORC drop down menu change.
ORC Ratings are also available online and can be updated online.
Most Puget Sound boats have been getting their ORC certificates from Canada, but that will change as US Sailing is setting up its own ORC certificate system.
I want to thank 48 North, Kurt Hoehne and all the yacht clubs for publicizing this event. Hoehne runs a sailing blog and I suspect he’d like to continue the conversation.
And this from William Bonner, who attended the meeting:
Thanks for the information in the Saturday seminar. I gained a huge amount of knowledge.
Experience racing under PHRF and ORC in the past year left me seriously questioning ORC.
What I really liked from this weekend was the discussion related to the methods of scoring used by race committee’s which will likely be the deciding factor on how much any handicapping system is used.
I like the quantitative measurement rating of ORC. It’s use in buoy racing where conditions of a particular race are likely consistent makes plenty of sense to me.
Its use in a longer coastal race with variable conditions, such as Swiftsure, VanIsle360, or Round the County are more problematic when the wind may vary from nothing to gale in a single segment. While no handicapping system will work for every boat, the fact that racers can’t know the handicap variables till after the race, and knowing what the race committed decided to call the wind, makes things much less satisfying.
The primary question I was asked was if there’s a larger push to move more boats to ORC from PHRF. I wasn’t able to confidently answer that, but based on the consensus that the sailflow interface is what people are familiar with and it doesn’t natively use ORC ratings, there will likely be more splits in the fleet through the next couple of years, with some boats competing under the ORC rating, and some competing under PHRF, and some switching between individual events.
Is there a general movement one way or another?
(I’m just crew that’s interested in all of this for the geek factor)
Back to a PNW Wet Wednesday, specifically Sloop Tavern’s Iceberg Series. This video comes courtesy of Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski (thanks!) from onboard the J/80 Reckless. Some fun footage of a flying reach to Skiff Point including losing the chute a couple times. Reckless ended up winning Class 4. Send those videos in. Now’s a good time to get your video gear sussed out for the season. You want to save it for posterity, right?
And for you dinghy sailors, all those Olympic and up-and-comer types were in Miami for the World Cup Series a week ago. And while all the final races were broadcast live online over the weekend, I’m thinking not many of us spent our days doing that. Here’s a 50 minute recap of the series, with some great heavy air sailing in all the Olympic classes. Check out the boat handling, and check out Caleb Paine coming from behind to grab the silver in the Finn. You can skip around to enjoy the classes you find most interesting.
Helena Scutt (of Kirkland, WA) and skipper Bora Gulari are currently the top U.S. Nacra 17 team at the World Cup Series Miami. Despite what must be exhausting days, she wrote the following to sailish.com to share:
After three days of racing, with one more day of normal racing plus a medal race day, we are in 9th place. However, this regatta is so much more than the result for us. It is our first regatta together, and my first Nacra 17 regatta, and it’s Bora’s first regatta since the horrific accident we had on Aug 30, in which he lost parts of 3 fingers. So for us to be here competing in the thick of it is something to be grateful for. This newly foiling Olympic class is new to everyone, and since we lost some training time, every day is a steep learning curve. We are really enjoying working together and I’m amazed by the progress we’ve made in the last three weeks of sailing here in Miami. We’ve improved our boatspeed in all conditions, boathandling, race communication, starts, catamaran-style tactics… you name it, we’ve gotten better at it. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. What’s also very cool is Seattleite Jonathan McKee is coaching us and the other three USA Nacras. Right now we are in 9,10,11, and 17 as a group. We brief and debrief daily together and look forward to being pushed by the other teams in training, that’s a great asset.
Bora and I are very self-critical so we’re never satisfied, but given our situation, we’re making the best of it and happy with progress. Ten days after this regatta we are going to Buenos Aires, ARG and then Punta del este, URU to train with the Rio 2016 Gold medallists Santi Lange and Ceci Carranza, and Riley and Louisa will join us too. Lots more in store for us!
We should all be excited for Helena. She’s an Olympic veteran (2016 Rio with Paris Henken in the 48erFX) and Bora is a multi-class champion. Their Facebook page is Gulari Scutt Racing, and Helena posts to Instagram as @helenas9.
Thursday the conditions were definitely “breeze-on.” As far as our other heroes Hanne Weaver and Kate Shaner, we haven’t heard from them yet, but I’m guessing they’re pretty tired right now. Sailing a Laser Radial in those conditions is brutal and the 49erFXs had a whole lot of DNSs and DNFs in the results. This experience is invaluable for their aspirations.
After 18 months away from a physically demanding sailboat such as the Laser Radial, a windy day like Day 3 of the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, can be a rude awakening. But if two-time Olympian Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla., above) is going to get back into world-class sailing shape in time to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there’s no time to waste.
“I haven’t sailed since the [Rio Olympic] Games, and coming into this event we’re extremely underweight and obviously not in the best of shape,” she said. “So, what [a windy day] does for the long-term goal is that it really shows you how hard you can push yourself. It also forces you to be really good with all of your boat handling. I think events like this, too, when they’re windy day after day, it’s good mentally. The Games is always a tough mental event. If you can start early on in the quad where you start pushing yourself mentally, I think it’s good training for the big events.”
Railey’s first day back was workmanlike, two 10ths and a 13th. Today was less successful with a mid-fleet finish and a black-flag disqualification for being over the starting line early. She’s 15th overall, but within striking distance of the top 10, and Sunday’s Medal Race. Emma Plasschaert (BEL) is walking away with the competition. Her 20-point total is 22 points less than Manami Doi (JPN) who is second. But Plasschaert has a large number for her throwout, which means this regatta just one mistake from being completely wide open again.
With more than a decade of campaign experience under her belt, Railey is pragmatic about the path to her third Olympic team. The key to campaigning as a veteran is to be as efficient as possible with your time and energy. That means embracing whatever conditions come her way.
“I have a bucket list [of things to work on this event],” she said. “But honestly it’s getting off the line, and since it’s so windy—and I’m sitting under 135 pounds—it’s really getting off the start and then just focusing on trying to hike as hard as I can. I’m literally in the phase right now where I’m just trying to get my legs and everything back which is obviously brutal, but whatever, it’s life.”
While many might find that level of physical exertion unappetizing, for Railey it’s a welcome change after a year and a half in the business world.
“There’s nothing like going out and physically pushing yourself,” she said. “You know, you go to the brink of ‘I don’t even know if I can continue doing this.’ It starts turning into mind over matter. In the working world, a lot of it’s just mental, mental, mental, and then you’re lacking the physical exertion. What’s fun for me is being out on the water and actually feeling the fatigue. People would say that’s crazy, but I actually like to be able to push myself physically.”
Railey is the top-placed American in the fleet by a 18-points. But with the strong winds expected to continue through the weekend, a good result will require her to push herself back into the pain cave time and time again. And while rising stars Erika Reineke, Haddon Hughes and Christina Sakellaris, among others, are not having great regattas, each has shown the potential to place in this very competitive fleet. The race for the U.S. Laser Radial berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has only just begun.
It was a wild and woolly day for the 49er fleet with a number of teams not finishing or even not starting races. Day 2 leaders Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) kept themselves in the pole position with a solid day, including a win and a third. In second and third, after nine races, are a pair of Spanish teams, Diego Botín le Chever and Iago López Marra (ESP) and brothers Federico and Arturo Alonso Tellechea (ESP).
Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) continued his consistent sailing with fill-in crew Alain Sighn (GBR). They are eighth in the overall standings. The full-fleet portion of the regatta will wrap up tomorrow with three more races, with the top 10 moving on to Saturday’s Medal Race.
“Today, we had some pretty epic breeze on the 49er course, about 18 to 20 knots with some gusts in the 23 range,” said Ryan (at left). “The goal of the day, and actually the goal of our regatta, has been to just try and keep getting around the top mark in the top 15 and pick away from there. Sort of our scoreline reflects that from today. It wasn’t really a superb day, but we did what we needed to do and actually, because of our consistency, we moved up a spot. That’s always pretty rewarding on the big breeze days.”
Capsizes were plentiful today and Ryan noted that they can have a lasting impact.
“As our coach says, ‘You’ve got to use the K.I.S.S approach. Keep it simple, stupid,’” Ryan said. “Basically, minimize maneuvers, don’t capsize, and make your life easy. On a four-race day, if you have a few capsizes, your energy gets zapped. It just gets worse and worse, and obviously your performance suffers.”
With nine full-fleet races in the books, and just three remaining, for the Nacra 17 class at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, this much is clear: anyone hoping for a place on the podium in this coed class is going to have to knock a defending Olympic medalist down a peg. Five of the six sailors that won medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics are sailing in the class this week, and showing little willingness to share the wealth, so to speak.
Rio 2016 silver medalists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) have done their homework when it comes to the lifting foils that were introduced to the class less than a year ago. Whether in near-drifting conditions on Day 1 and Day 2 or the full-on breeze of Day 3, they have been extremely hard to beat, winning five races and posting just one finish outside the top four.
“Today was great, quite fresh, which is tricky on a foiling boat,” said Waterhouse. “We scored a three, two, one but we threw away a few points in the first race due an equipment malfunction, which was quite disappointing.”
With a 17-point lead, Waterhouse and Darmanin have a few points to burn. And, he added, there is an upside to the malfunction.
“We are trialing a lot of new systems and we had an issue where something got caught and we couldn’t get the spinnaker up,” he said. “We are actually pleased that happened because we can learn from it. Imagine if that happened at the World Championships or the Olympics.”
The reigning gold medalists in the class, Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) are second, though they have nearly matched the Australian team over the last five races. The bronze medal skipper from 2016, Thomas Zajac (AUT) is sailing with a new crew in this Olympic cycle, Barbara Matz (AUT).
The top three American teams are grouped within six points of one another, between ninth and 11th place. Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.) (at right) lead the trio, with Ravi Parent and Christina Persson in 10th and Sarah Newberry and David Liebenberg in 11th. All three teams are new partnerships for this Olympic cycle and face the double challenge of learning a new boat and meshing with a new teammate.
Giles Scott (GBR) and Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), both whom who won medals in the Finn class in the Rio 2016 Olympics, are in familiar territory after six races, with Paine in third and Scott tied on points for the lead with Alican Kaynar (TUR). The top 10 is tightly packed, however, with 13 points separating fourth from 10th, which should make for an exciting conclusion to the full-fleet portion of the regatta.
For a team that had not sailed together for five-plus years before reuniting during the lead-up to this regatta, Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Graham Biehl (San Francisco, Calif.) have shown a remarkable ability to pick up where they left off. A sixth and a ninth today, in the sort of punchy conditions that would expose any rust or lack of cohesion, puts them in sixth place overall, with four races remaining before Sunday’s Medal Race. Getting onto the podium, which is currently occupied by Luke Patience and Chris Grube (GBR) in first with 16 points, Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) in second with 22 points, and Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) in third with 26 points, will likely require some help. But getting as high as fourth is very realistic for the American team. Young guns Wiley Rogers and Jack Parkin, who won the 2016 Youth World Championships in the International 420, are 26th.
Afrodite Zeggers and Anneloes Van Veen (NED) showed their skill in the wind and waves today, scoring a first and a second in two races in the Women’s 470 division. That moved them up to second place. Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshikoa (JPN) hung on to the overall lead despite a 17th in today’s final race. But the margin between first and sixth is just 10 points, with four full-fleet races remaining before Sunday’s Medal Race. Atlantic and Nora Brugman (Miami, Fla.) are the top-ranked American team in 24th.
The dramatic shift in the wind conditions, from 6 to 8 knots for races 1 through 4 of the RS:X Women’s regatta to 18 to 25 knots for races 4 through 8, did a number on the results. Noga Geller (ISR) who was so dominant in the light air, struggled to break into the top 20 in the breeze and dropped from first to sixth. Hélène Noesmoen (FRA) on the other hand, sparkled in the fresh breeze, picking up two firsts and a third and vaulting up to fourth place. Consistency across a range of conditions is the key to long-term success and Stefania Elfutina (RUS) showed today that she can handle high winds almost as well as the lightest edges of the wind window. She leads the regatta with 33 points. Blanca Mancon (ESP) is second. Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.), is 25th.
After a tough start to the regatta, Louis Giard (FRA) has been nearly unbeatable, with two first and two thirds in his last four races in the Men’s RS:X division. With no one else in the fleet able to match that level of consistency, Giard has staked himself to a 12-point lead after six races. Teammate Pierre Le Coq (FRA), the bronze medalist in the class from the Rio 2016 Olympics is second with Kiran Badloe (NED) in third. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the regatta has been the performance of double gold medalist Dorian Van Rijsselberghe, who is returning to competition after a long layoff. He’s in 10th place, with just one single-digit result to this point in the regatta. The class has just three full-fleet races remaining before Saturday’s Medal Race. 2016 Rio Olympian Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) struggled in today’s windy conditions and dropped to 35th overall.
For the Women’s 49erFX fleet, which didn’t start a race until 2:40 p.m., the conditions proved to be too much for most of the 21-boat fleet. Many of those who survived the windward mark found turning back upwind to be too great of a challenge and only seven boats finished the race, after which the race committee sent them in for the day. Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz (GER) extended their win streak to four races and pushed their lead to 10 points over Ragna and Maia Agerup (NOR) who are in turn 10 points ahead of Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht (AUT). No American teams finished the race. Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) are the best-placed U.S. team in ninth place in the overall standings while Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias (Pittsburgh, Pa.) are 13th in their first regatta together.
In the 70-boat Laser fleet, anything in the top 10 is a very good result. String together a few of them and you could well find yourself in the lead. That’s been Tom Burton’s (AUS) experience so far in this regatta. He’s had one bad race, and five no worse than seventh, and is currently leading by 10 points from Philipp Buhl (GER). Nick Thompson (GBR) is third, three points further back. 2016 Rio Olympian Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) hasn’t been able to replicate his first race, a second, but he’s sailed well enough to be inside the top 10 with four races to go before the fleet is thinned out for the Medal Race. Given how quickly points can add up in this fleet, Christopher Barnard, currently 17th, is within striking distance of the top 10. Erik Bowers (above, left) is 58th.
World Cup Series Miami is happening this week, and it’s where all the Olympic hopefuls congregate to start racking up wins and gaining experience in all the relevant classes. I’ve gathered some training videos – a couple of them VERY short clips – of PNW women that are there competing. Looks challenging for 4 seconds. Imagine a whole day of racing. First up is Kate Shaner and Charlotte Mack doing some heavy air training in her 49erFX. Then comes a video of Helena Scutt (with skipper Bora Gulari) in a polished pr video sailing a Nacra 19 on foils. Finally, we have a few seconds of Hanne Weaver working the waves in her Laser Radial in some big wind. I’m hoping to get some first-hand accounts of how the series is going. And for the young sailors at home, here are some hometown heroes to root for and learn from!