Jake Fish, US SAILING Communications Manager
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (September 25, 2009) - Eight teams from around the country gathered at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. to compete in the U.S. Offshore Sailing Championship for the Lloyd Phoenix Trophy aboard the Academy’s fleet of 44’ sloops. Three races were finished on day one of the regatta in a northeasterly breeze that peaked at around 13 knots just as the first race started.
Four leg windward leeward courses were designated with a short leg length of .9 mile. With the current predicted to start ebbing, most of the fleet worked hard to get left while a couple of teams who got squeezed at the start had to settle for the right. Although the wind did shift left, all in the parade to that side widely over stood, and Todd Wheatley (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and his Alamitos Bay Yacht Club crew got the lay line just right to lead by a good margin. Ken King (Charleston, S.C.) also came in from the right to round second. These two would maintain position for the race with R.J. Di Mattia (Quincy, Mass.) taking 3rd.
For the second race, the breeze dropped down to 8-10 knots and the southbound ebb finally started rolling in earnest. The Naval Academy Midshipman crew led by Jason Mazzoni won the pin headed for the seemingly favored left side only to have the wind veer 20 degrees soon after. King and his Charleston crew had to tack clear again and went right with a few others to mitigate their less than perfect start. Wind speed and direction began fluctuating as the sky cleared and it was anybody’s race as they approached the weather mark. Mike Gable’s (Seffner, Fla.) crew from Davis Island Yacht Club worked to the front and never looked back to post their first bullet after a tough 6th place in the first race. Norm Dawley (Lusby, Md.) and crew representing Southern Maryland Sailing Association showed excellent form nailing a second while King and crew stayed close with a third.
Although the wind axis remained fairly constant with only a small shift to the left, the third race had every guessing for an upwind strategy. Gable barely made it past the pin to win the left at the start while another group got pinged out to the right. With the current really starting to roll and the breeze lighter still (around 6 kts) the left was huge and Gable’s team led by 200 yards at the first mark. Boats on the right had good breeze and angle but couldn’t make up for current effect. King’s South Carolina crew and Mazzoni’s Navy team battled around the course for second with King, aided by tactician Tommy Harken (winner in 1987), found better breeze to sneak past Mazzoni who finished 3rd.
At the post race party, winner for the day was King who commented that the boats were more nimble than he had anticipated. Despite poor starts, he and his team focused on keeping the boat up to speed both upwind and down managing to claw back and post consistent top finishes.
The plan for tomorrow is one buoy race in the morning followed by a distance point to point race in the afternoon. Racing will wrap up on Sunday. The 2009 U.S. Offshore Sailing Championship is sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A. and Predict Wind.
Go to the Event Website for more details: http://championships.ussailing.org/Adult/USOffshoreChampionship.htm.
- Content contributions made by Jahn Tihansky of the U.S. Naval Academy.