2012 North American Championship

When Paul and I arrived at the SC yacht club most of the participants were already there working on their boats. The Wrenn brothers were hectically finishing rigging their recently refurbished boat. Everybody was questioning if they can make it by the first race the next day. They did, and good for them.

Lin and his crew Paul Von Grey were the only boat out on the water practicing. There was a reason for it, the weather was not exactly ideal. There was a front coming through from the North, bringing fresh breeze over the land to the SC bay resulting very shifty and gusty conditions.

Paul and I got to work on our boat as soon as we arrived, being able to put most of it together that night. There was still something to do the next morning before the first race, but we felt comfortable that we would be ready.

Lin and Paul VG came in later looking pretty tired and very wet. Apparently, they tried to go further out of the bay cover and hit a wall of stiff wind guessing around 30 knots. Not fully tuned up together yet they capsized and I am sure that it got some energy out of them.

The forecast for Friday, the first day of racing was 18 – 25, overcast.

First race started at 12:00 and it was already pretty windy. We knew that we will get more as the afternoon progresses. Paul and I managed to stay up and won the first race. Tim with Matthias took second and Buzz with Kurt, a very experienced crew, came third. We were using our proven mast from NZL and old BM Genoa that day. We were happy with our choice.

Second race was windier than the first one and also very shifty and gusty. The top mark was set in area where we saw some gusts over 20 knots. At one point we looked around and didn’t see any other boats around us. First I thought that the race was cancelled, but then we realized that everybody was upside down. We managed to finish the race first, without going swimming, although we had couple of close calls. Lin and Paul VG took second place. Together we were the only two boats finishing this race. The committee boat sent us in, that was all for the day.

I have to say it was challenging beginning of this series, because most of us are just not used to these conditions, but towards the end of the second race we were ready for another one. Obviously, if we had capsized, we would have probably thought differently.

There was a lot of damage on many boats that caused some people not to be able to start the next day. One of them was Paul Hemker with his best crew so far, Jason Breeden, former US nationals champions. Their mast sail track detached from the tip and unfortunately the plexus adhesive was not cured in time for next race. Other major damage was experienced by Tim and Matthias, when their shroud gave up on them, resulting in a broken mast. They were able to get new parts and rig their spare mast, not missing a beat.

Saturday was little easier in terms of wind velocity, but shifts and wind patterns were a different story. Paul and I were able to win the first race, this time with North AP Genoa rigged to the first grommet. As usual, the wind filled in for the second race, but we stayed on the first grommet thinking that it will be just fine. It wasn’t. We fought our way around the course thinking what’s wrong with our speed. That broke our concentration and we missed couple of shift resulting giving up our race to Lin and Paul, who took first. Tim with Mathias finished right behind us third.

By the time we started the third race of the day, it was evident that we should go to the second grommet to get the rig properly set. Right after the start the boat felt much better and we got our speed back. What a difference it made.

We won the third race, Lin with Paul took second and Buzz with Kurt took third, looking very fast.

Third day of racing brought some sunshine, first time that weekend. The wind speed was around 15 knots, simply great sailing conditions. The race committee decided to run two races giving us some time for packing our gear afterwards. I was very happy about it because I had to catch a plane back to PA that night.

Paul and I managed to win both races but were challenged by an incredibly fast Phillipe Khan with his world champion crew, Steve Bourdow. They sailed Lin’s 2004 Mader.

Overall, it was a fantastic regatta reminding us that these conditions may as well happen again during the worlds in September, so this was an excellent practice for the big game.

Thirteen boats was not bad participation, but I have to admit, I really missed our friends from South California, San Diego area, not quite understanding why they missed such a great opportunity.

Many thanks to the race committee for an excellent job organizing, and running this event. There is no doubt that they are the right team for the Worlds in September.