Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sailing Shootout @ IRC Champs

J/109s sailing on Long Island SoundJ/122 & J/35 Win Class, J/105 Wins PHRF Classic
(Greenwich, CT)- The sailors on Long Island Sound were blessed by remarkably spectacular sailing conditions this past weekend.  With the passage of a monster front, the backside of the Low produced two straight days of North-Northwest winds in the 5-20 kts range with mostly flat waters and just local motorboat chop to contend with across the course.  With temps in the low 70s, puffy white clouds scudding across the skies, there was a lot to be grateful for amongst the hardened veterans of Western Long Island Sound sailing.  Why?  Pure & simple.  The twin developments of global warming and lots of concrete and real estate development along both shores of Long Island, New York along the south and NY/CT on the north means that Long Island Sound often turns into a "parking lot" for sailboats having to deal with the dual, competing sea breezes trying to form on both shores! That's a lot of roof-tops and black-topped roads to compete with for wind!  In the last decade, Long Island Sound sailors have been suffering the same fate as their friends in the Chesapeake Bay and Tampa Bay far to the south.

The thirty-three boats that showed up for the US-IRC Championship of Long Island Sound and PHRF Fall Classic hosted by Riverside YC were incredibly appreciate of what Mother Nature had to offer for their weekend of sailing.  In the PHRF Classic Racing Division, the J/105 STRANGE BREW sailed by Randy Bourne walked away with class and overall honors with a 1-1 for just 2.0 pts!  That's a clean sweep, eh?  Ken Hall's J/100 NEVERMORE sailed well to grab 5th and fellow J Sailor Brian Warner raced his J/35 IMPROMPTU to 6th in class.

Over in IRC 4 Class a true "storm" was brewing.  In the end, Mark Parry's & Lawrence McGrath's J/35 BLUE MOUSE sailed a solid series and won class with three 1sts and two 2nds for a total of 7 pts.  However, arch-rival Rick Lyall and crew on the champion J/109 STORM was badly damaged by an out-of-control Express 37 DRACO that lost steerage while ducking and slammed into the port quarter, creating a massive hole, taking out the stern pulpit and damaging the wheel.  Fortunately, no one was hurt other than some bruised egos.

In IRC 2 Jim Bishop's J/44 IRC Modified speedster sailed a very strong series but suffered a somewhat similar fate as their classmate in IRC 4- STORM.  After compiling a 2-2-3-3 and easily in contention for 2nd, Jim's team managed to foul (or get fouled) by a competitor in their class at the start of the last race and, as a result of boat damage, had to take an RAF immediately after the start.  As a result, they finished third in class, still respectable considering the consequences.

J/111 Partnership- sailing around markThe biggest battle for the weekend happened to be in the IRC 3 class with a bunch of "hot" boats sailing for honors of "big dog on campus" in the mud-puddle known as Long Island Sound- it consisted of two J/122s, a J/111, a Summit 35 and two well-sailed Farr 30s.  From the beginning, it was clear the two J/122s were going for class supremacy from the starting gun of the first race.  Imagine this, two J/122 Champion teams dueling "mano-a-mano" for LIS IRC Champion.  One is the Bermuda Race Champion, Block Island Champion, Vineyard Race Champion (CHRISTOPHER DRAGON) and the other is J/122 North American Champion, Block Island Race Week Champion, and New York YC Annual Regatta Champion (WINGS).  It was a battle of the gladiators of offshore and course-racing in the J/122 world.  On WINGS was Tom Boyle and Mark Ploch and on CHRISTOPHER DRAGON was Andrew Weiss and Butch Ulmer-- an all-time classic match-up.  Then, as spoiler was the J/111 PARTNERSHIP sailed by yet another champion J/122 team (offshore champions, too) led by David & Maryellen Tortorello and David Hirsch.  The sailing results don't spell-out how close the actual racing was amongst these three boats.  In short, the first day's sailing in 12-19 kts of NNW breeze was much to the liking of the J/122s.  But, a miscalculated bottom mark rounding by the J/111 PARTNERSHIP in Race #3 could easily have changed the results-- since PARTNERSHIP rounded the mark in first boat-for-boat but hit the mark and performed a poor penalty turn.  Sunday's racing was full of drama, starting with the J/111 winning the first race on elapsed and IRC handicap, then nearly pulling it off again with a dramatic comeback to win  on elapsed again but losing IRC handicap by mere boat-lengths. Kudos to Tom Boyle and the WINGS team for winning with a steady 1-1-2-2-2 for 8 pts total. Second was Andrew Weiss's veteran campaigners on CHRIS DRAGON with a 2-2-1-4-1 tally for 10 pts.  And, third was the Tortorello's PARTNERSHIP with a 4-3-3-1-3 score to complete the J/Team's sweep of IRC 3.  For more Long Island IRC Championship & PHRF Classic sailing information