Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Heineken HPDO and R1 Championship - Drew Buttner

Columbus Day weekend in the northeast means it is time for our annual gathering in Rye, NY for the High Performance Dinghy Open. John Wyles started this event many years ago as a 505 regatta and has since grown it into one of the biggest multi-class events on the east coast. 505’s are still at its core and this year saw 14 team sign up to compete.

October in Rye, NY is like going to the casino … the weather changes daily and can be anything from mid summer heat to early winter storms. Everything has been seen over the years, and the 2014 version brought everything; wind, no wind, waves, flat water, cold, very cold, rain, and sun were all part of the weekend.

The forecast for Sat was not for the light-hearted. A weak nor’ easter was moving through the region and heavy rain, decent wind, and seasonably cold temps were expected. A few teams saw this forecast and mentally were already beaten. Even before the first race was held, positions 12, 13, and 14 were already decided. The eleven remaining teams dressed in their battle gear and headed out to the race course in 12-18 knots of breeze. The rain that made rigging “not very enjoyable” started to ease and an absolutely great day of racing resulted.

Zagol/Buttner jumped out of the gates early … literally being the first boat to gate, and took the lead in the first race with favorable left pressure and current relief. Behind them the fleet battled in a back and forth affair that saw many teams challenging near the front. Making the most of this was the team of Greenfield/Burd. Sailing the newly purchased 8852, the team found a great lane up the second beat and almost pushed into the lead. Kivney/Russell, sailing the newly purchased 9005, also found the fast land and moved into the top 3. The wire run to the finish was a blast and rewarded the three teams for their good upwind tactics.

For race number 2, the secret about the left was out, and more teams looked to gate early and play the left pressure. Ferrarone/Kaplan made the biggest jump and changed their 8th place finish in race one into a 2nd place finish in race 2. Amthor/Meller also were not fooled a second time and moved up to 3rd in the race with Zagol/Buttner notching another race win.

By the middle of race 3, the team of Zagol/Buttner seemed to be running away with the event as they lead again around most of the course. However, at the last windward mark they made a crucial mistake and rounded too early. After wiring into the right corner, the breeze picked up and shifted left. Amthor/Meller, with over 50 years of 505 experience in the boat, was not fooled and waited for this shift to carry them low and inside and to the race win. Connell/Heussler, who were back on the course after some morning issues, also played this perfectly took home the silver.

After 3 races, the fleet was tight with everyone finding moments of glory. Also by this time, the breeze started to lighten up a bit, the rain stopped, and the left pressure became even more of an advantage. Two more races were held on this first day. Zagol/Buttner would win one of these, and Greenfield/Burd would take the other. Connell/Heussler sailed another great race, but wanted to the get the evening started early and sailed in with one race to go?

Sunday saw sunny skies but even colder temperatures. The breeze was decent, but the forecast was calling for it to shift right and die to nothing by midday. The headed out early and got three races off in the dying breeze. Ted Ferrarone had seen the forecast the night before and called in a favor to a local high school and 420 stud. Weighing all of 120lbs, this stud took Ferrarone to the front of the fleet, and as the breeze died their scores improved. Ferrarone/Fernberger scored a 4, 2, 1 with the last bullet being such a horizon job that they were back on the dock sipping hot chocolate before the second boat crossed the finish line.

Wederoth/Fast also enjoyed the dying breeze improving each race, culminating in a second in the final race. Granted, this may have been due to Wederoth wanting to get back to shore to warm up. He held true to form and sailed in bare feet all weekend and had to be feeling the effects of frostbite by the end.

In the end, it was Zagol/Buttner that came out on top and were crowned the 2014 Region One Champs. Unfortunately, past winner Ferrarone refused to give up the trophy and “forgot” it at his house. This is the same excuse he has used every year since winning the trophy in 2011.

Congratulations to all for a great 2014 season. The HPDO was the last event of the year for Region One. A rough count showed that there were 17 active boats this year. That is a great number that hopefully can grow to 20 next year!  Already looking forward to 2015!

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