Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 505 North American Championship - Chris Love Reports

North American 505 Fleet Gets Early Preview for Worlds; Hamlin/Zinn Lead the Way

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Warm Chesapeake water coupled with a pleasant September high pressure system forced the fleet of the 2015 International 505 North American Championship into three days of on-the-water chess in consistently light and shifty wind, before the northerly kicked in for a final honking day of high octane drag racing. This one-two combo may have been mentally draining and physically demanding for the 33 boats that attended this continental championship event hosted by Severn Sailing Association and Eastport Yacht Club September 17-20, but it will surely give them a leg up on the rest of the globe when they return to these waters in two year’s time to compete for the 505 World Championship.

A compact fleet on the second day of the 2015 International 505 North American Championship
Howard Hamlin and Andy Zinn managed to stay close enough to early leaders Ethan Bixby and Christopher Brady through the light stuff that their picket fence on Day 4 put them comfortably atop the podium. “I thought Ethan was totally untouchable,” said Howard after the victory. “He was going really well in the light stuff, but he just didn’t have it in breeze. We’re more all-around.” Bixby and Brady posted their only double digit scores in all three of the final day’s races and barely held onto second. Reigning World Champions Mike Holt and Carl Smit struggled early but found their stride on the last two days and finished third.

Hamlin and Zinn have been sailing together for ten years, near their home base in Long Beach and around the world, but this was their first taste of Annapolis. “It’s a nice feeling to be a California drag racer and be able to win in a shifty light place. We’re not going to read too much into it though—we won’t necessarily see the same conditions at Worlds.”

2015 North American Champions Howard Hamlin (helm) and Andy Zinn (crew) lead the pack on the final day.
Some of the other top contenders for 2017 are taking notes now. “We all work on our speed and the boats and everything else,” said Mark Zagol, who sails with Drew Buttner and finished sixth this weekend, “but this event just shows how important the mental aspect of sailing is going to be for that regatta. Lots of lead changes, and challenging wind—gotta be ready to battle for an entire week.”

For Craig Thompson, who won the 505 East Coast Championship in August with regular crew Mike Curtin but struggled at this event, it was all about lessons learned: “In Annapolis, you can’t be one dimensional. That’s why Howard and Andy won. Big breeze, medium breeze and shifty, light wind, it doesn’t matter—they could even grind it back when they found themselves in the cheap seats.”

Mike Holt (helm) and Carl Smit (crew) showing some serious intensity on a tight reach leg.
While many 505’ers used this regatta to start preparing for Worlds, the primary focus for the 66 sailors hailing from all corners of the US and Canada was simply to perform the their very best at the pinnacle 505 event for 2015 against some of the world’s top 505 sailors. Local sailor Ramsay Key has been away from the boat for a time, but was sure to find himself a ride when he found out this regatta was coming to his hometown. “Having raced a number of different boats,” said Key, “I don't think there is a better boat that the 505: its part tactical collegiate dinghy, part high performance skiff, and part engineering.  Nothing is better than hoisting the chute in 15 to 25 knots and taking the sleigh ride downhill!”

This event caps off the major events for the class this year, but there’s plenty to look forward to in 2016. After the first three grand slam events, Key and anyone else from the International 505 fleet who can make it back to Annapolis will have another chance to tune up on the same racecourse as SSA and EYC team up again to host the 2016 505 East Coast Championship in preparation for the US to make a big showing at its home event in 2017.

Macy Nelson (helm) and Eric Anderson (crew) are blinded with spray on a beat to windward
Top ten:
1 Howard Hamlin/Andy Zinn 1, 4*, 4, 3, 3, 5*, 3, 4, 1, 1, 1, 21
2 Ethan Bixby/Christopher Brady, 2, 1, 5, 1, 2, 4, 2, 2, 15*, 12*, 10, 29
3 Mike Holt/Carl Smit , 16*, 2, 9*, 8, 4, 1, 1, 3, 4, 3, 5, 31
4 Jesse Falsone/Keith Davids, 10, 3, 13*, 7, 1, 2, 4, 1, 8, 7, 11*, 43
5 Riley Gibbs/Reeve Dunne 3, 6, 1, 15*, 16*, 6, 8, 13, 9, 2, 3, 51
6 Andrew Buttner/Mark Zagol, 4, 11*, 7, 2, 5, 8*, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 51
7 Tyler Moore/Rob Woelfel 5, 9, 8, 10*, 6, 3, 9, 14*, 2, 10, 2, 54
8 Stuart Park/Ryan Cox 13, 5, 17, 5, 21*, 20*, 6, 11, 3, 4, 9, 73
9 Jeff Boyd/Rachael Boyd 6, 16, 2, 4, 7, 7, 7, 12, 19*, 18, DNC*, 79
10 Henry Amthor/Dustin Romey, 18*, 22*, 3, 9, 17, 17, 10, 7, 10, 5, 4, 82

Complete results at http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=1440
All photos courtesy of Ted Morgan and Dan Phelps. Full galleries below:
Ted Morgan Gallery
Dan Phelps/SpinSheet Gallery

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