The last weekend of February saw 505s and Contenders converge on sunny St. Pete Beach for the 2011 Midwinter Championship. For the 505s it was a shift in venue from Fort Desoto to a site that was centralized and included tight fitting suits not worn by folks named Meller or Falsone. For the Contenders, this was a preview of the upcoming April 2012 World Championships that will sail out of one of St. Pete Beach's many resorts. With Denmark's Soren Andreasen in the Contender fleet, it was also an opportunity to see some of the talent that will hopefully be attending the event.
Friday's sailing saw five races in 12-15 knots. Each race favored the left side of the course for more pressure, meaning that starts and holding your lane were essential. The team of Diaz/Bourdow found lanes in each start, found their settings, and put their bow down for five bullets. Keeping pace were Bixby/Brady and Nelson/Barclay with a strong early showing from Wyles/Dunn. After a tough start, Robson/themantheycallClayton James finished Friday with two strong races. In the debrief, Steve and Augie talked about finding a compromise between sailing too low upwind and having the boat feel bound-up. The consensus seemed to be that bound-up is a never, but that if it feels too good...it is...and you're reaching. Adjustments that were discussed included rake (different across the fleet), ram down, and board height. Downwind, boats wire ran into the beach for pressure, and skippers and crews had to work together to continue to pass waves. This meant avoiding the backs of waves and walking forward on the wire to initiate surfing. The Contenders also saw a dominant performance from Andreasen. Ben Moon jumped between Soren and the Canadians for a string of seconds.
Saturday's sailing was light, but the breeze was consistent enough to get another four races in for the 505s. Again, the left side of the course paid in terms of pressure, and holding your lane after the start dictated who rounded in the top three. With the pressure coming off the beach, the sit run was a test of nerves as sailors risked sailing off the course or losing the inside to stay in the pressure. Working the waves was still possible, and skippers and crews had to work together to find waves to surf while maintaining pressure in the sails. Diaz/Bourdow were once again dominant and Steve, Augie, and Ethan later talked about the the crew dictating the angles downwind until a tactical situation dictates otherwise. Bixby/Brady and Nelson/Barclay also had strong days with 8722 nearly taking a bullet from Steve and Augie. Dohan/Beardslee got back on the water after a string of DNCs and had three strong races. "The Boys", Marks/Jones and Thompson/Turner were both fast but were forced to drop an OCS each at the end of the day. Brooklyn's finest, Deinhardt/Schluter sailed a strong last race of the day. The Contenders also saw another dominating performance from Soren, but also got Gil Woolley back after a day one breakdown. Saturday ended with a wonderful dinner in Pass-A-Grille and all the usual regatta talk including gun control, Egypt, yoga, and new 505 nicknames. Mr. Barclay has firmly rejected "chicken fingers" as it doesn't quite work with "the professor".
Sunday started interestingly as a bewildered Contender sailor found his boat in knee-high water while still tied to the dolly. After carefully recounting his evening, including contacting witnesses, Mr. Moon upgraded his initial plea of "no contest" to a firm "not guilty". No harm was done and both fleets got off the beach in more breeze than had been forecasted. After one light race that saw Diaz/Bourdow and Soren finish their string of bullets, the RC wisely sent the sailors into the beach. The Longs sailed their strongest race with a third followed closely by fellow Fleet 13 sailors Thompson/Turner.
1. The venue shift was an upgrade. There was more breeze than in the bay, the crews could walk to a deli, and housing could be had in walking distance of the beach.
2. Having Steve Bourdow at the regatta was great, and there should be a push to encourage more wrong coasters to come out for the event next year.
3. To say New England wasn't properly represented would be an understatement.
4. Your humble author is of the belief that a jibing board is awesome, except for when you can't stop it from jibing. Ethan's got a good jibe stopper, and I am of the belief that it makes a huge difference when wire running in 13 knots with the board pretty far down.
5. Big thanks for the great RC work! Nine races in two days was a great way to start the regatta, pulling the plug on Sunday was a great call.
6. Big thanks to Ethan and Lin for organizing the event, SPYC for hosting it, and Trudy for housing a portion of it!
7. Next up: Dave and Jay host the 505s in sunny North Carolina the first weekend in April. Three committed Chicago boats with 12+ committed already! Get on it!
Congratulations to Augie and Steve on a convincing win!