October 22, 2017

Sitella & Rattle N Rum – New Chesapeake ORC Champions

Farr 30s downwind

Annapolis, MD, October 22, 2017 - Nobody – neither sailors nor organizers – is happy when lack of wind puts a damper on a long-awaited regatta. Nonetheless, Mother Nature did not cooperate with the Storm Trysail Club’s Annapolis Fall Regatta, which lost almost an entire weekend of windward-leeward racing due to light air on the mid-Chesapeake Bay. And two distance races scored on Friday allowed for just enough racing to allow the crowning of two new ORC Chesapeake champions.

After no races held on Saturday, Principal race officer Dick Neville found a window favorable enough to get in one race on Sunday to send the 15-boat fleet home on a positive note. It was the lone buoy race for the two ORC classes and was held in 5-6 knots of breeze, conditions the rating rule took into account.

“Sailing under ORC made today manageable because the rule adjusts your rating based on the wind and course,” said Ian Hill, skipper of the XP44 Sitella. “The ORC office and US Sailing did a good job of making sure everyone had the proper rating and I thought the scoring was fair across the board.”

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Sitella took first place in both legs of the distance race held on Friday then finished second in the buoy race on Sunday to secure victory in ORC 1. It was the second straight year the Hampton Yacht Club entry captured class honors at the Annapolis Fall Regatta.

“I give the race committee a lot of credit for making some good decisions in difficult situations,” said Hill, a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia. “They shortened the course on Friday, which was wise since the wind dropped out. They clearly made the right call in not racing on Saturday and were very fortunate to get one race away today.”

Mark Wheeler served as tactician aboard Sitella, which enjoyed a good battle with another XP44 during the distance race - Bob Cantwell’s Rival – who was runner-up in the 18-nautical mile tour of the bay that took the fleet around government marks.

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“Mark did a terrific job of calling the shifts on both days. He consistently put the boat on the correct side of the course, which was not easy to do,” Hill said.

Crew boss Martin Casey trimmed headsails along with Jimmy Hardesty and Chad Wilkerson. Quantum Sails’s Dave Flynn trimmed the main while Annapolis-based pro sailor Geoff Ewenson was aboard as navigator, being made available by the unfortunate dismasting on Thursday of Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Botin 44 Interlodge, his intended team for the event. Chuck Eberwine, Samantha Nuerbert, Sean Henry and Chris Korpman combined to work the front of the boat while Tom Fitzsimmons was the floater.

Final results in ORC 2 were not determined until a protest was resolved in Sunday’s race between Slush Fund, Jim Connelly’s J/111, and Mike Beasely’s GP 26 Rattle N Rum. Slush Fund was found to be at fault for not keeping clear on a downwind leg, and so was disqualified, giving the victory to Rattle-n-Rum, who scored 2nd in both the first 14 mile and then the second 18 mile distance races on Friday.

“I don’t like winning through a protest, but when there is an incident that warrants going into the room you have to follow through with it,” Beasley said. “We thought it was clearly a foul and the protest committee agreed.”

As for the racing conditions for the regatta, Beasely chuckled, saying“It was a classic Chesapeake Bay roll of the dice, light air, mind-boggling event. All credit to my team for doing a great job of keeping us in what little pressure there was. We did a lot of work over the summer to get the systems sorted on the boat, made some small changes here and there to get things improved.”

Joe Gibson called tactics and also trimmed the headsails aboard Rattle-n-Rum, which also earned the overall Palmetto Trophy for top performance among four classes of ORC entries at this year’s Sperry Charleston Race Week. Teddy Haaland handled the foredeck while Joanna Haaland did runners and Ryan Rutkowski worked the pit.

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The Farr 30 class conducted its International Championship as part of the Annapolis Fall Regatta with Neville and his race committee volunteering to conduct an extra day of buoy racing for the class on Thursday. Rod Jabin’s Ramrod won the title, due in part by getting the gun in all three windward-leeward races held that day in 9-12 knot southerly winds and thus having a strong start to the event.

Jabin then steered Ramrod to a runner-up result in the distance race then survived a third in Sunday’s light air gambit to edge the Canadian entry HeadFirst 3 by 1 ½ points. Skipper Peter Toombs and his team from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island won the distance race and placed either second or third in the four buoy races.

“We sailed very well on Thursday and thank goodness we did,” said Jabin, repeat winner of Farr 30 class at the Annapolis Fall Regatta. “Peter and his guys from Canada were fast and sailed very well. I was lucky to hold on.”

Ramrod got caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift and could not recover during the distance race. The Annapolis-based team was winning when the wind suddenly died and allowed a couple of trailing boats to pass.

“We sailed into a hole and the whole fleet inverted,” Jabin said. “That is what is so challenging about sailing in light air on the Chesapeake Bay. When the wind is shifting as much as 40 degrees it can be difficult.”

Veteran pro sailor Chris Larson called tactics for Jabin, who hosted the regatta at his family-owned yacht yard on Back Creek. Darren Jones (main), Matt Beck (jib), Norman Berge (bow), John Dolan (pit) and Abigail McLaughlin (middle) completed the crew on Ramrod.

Mummbles, owned by Annapolis resident Brad Kauffman, benefited from the sudden wind shift to win Race 6 and finished third in the final standings.

“It was a total crap shoot and we just happened to be in the breeze on the left side of the course on the last downwind leg,” said Kauffman, who had North Sails’s James Allsopp aboard as tactician. “We tore the spinnaker on the hatch earlier in the race and had to finish with a pretty sizable tear. Fortunately, the wind was only four knots so it didn’t matter much.”

For complete results and additional information, please the event website at: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=4084 

All photos courtesy of SpinSheet Magazine