The YOUNG GUNS team came up from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and dominated the 24-boat J/70 Fall Brawl fleet from the start last weekend. St. Mary’s was led by Venezuelan Olympic hopeful Victor Diaz de Leon, borrowing a boat from the skipper on whose team Diaz de Leon had sailed a couple weeks earlier in the J/70 North Americans.
Their first day’s keeper finishes of 1-1-3-1 put the YOUNG GUNS so far ahead of the pack by the time the fleet came ashore on Saturday evening that they could afford to slack off a little on the second day and still take the overall win by a comfortable margin.
Taking a comfortable second was Jud Smith, amassing a solid record on day one to stay in the hunt with a 10-2-5-4-1 scoreline. Going into the last day of racing, Smith still had a solid mathematical chance of grabbing the lead, but a 9-4-5 tally added a quick 18 pts to their score to keep them in second. Meanwhile, the YOUNG GUNS gang rattled off a 7-3-6 to safely hold on to their early lead.
Finishing solidly in third overall in the eight-race, one-throwout series was Annapolitan John Aras’ team, including John Dolan, Alex Stout and Mark Eagan. “We only just got the boat a couple of days before the NAs,” Aras said, “so we’re still figuring it out. The learning curve is pretty steep.” Aras, who also was the top Corinthian (amateur) sailor in the event, said the conditions and the tight competition were challenging throughout the weekend, describing solid southwesterlies coupled with big chop on Saturday and puffy, shifty northerlies on Sunday that swung 20 degrees or more. “Getting through that chop was a bit of a challenge,” he said.
“It was all about trying to be consistent and not making too many mistakes, hitting the shifts and keeping clear air, ” he said. “A little mistake could cost you five or six boats pretty quickly.” With five top-five finishes and only one keeper worse than 10th, Aras and his team showed that they’ve picked up a lot of boat knowledge in a short time. “It was a lot of fun,” Aras said. “There was good breeze and Eastport did a good job with the courses.”
Rounding out the top five was Andrew Criezis in 4th with WHIQUILA and taking fifth was Blake Kimbrough on NOSTALGIA.
The fleet was tightly packed most of the time, and the conditions clearly took a toll as nearly everyone, including the top sailors, had one or more finishes they would have preferred to forget. In fact, the EYC Race Committee led by PRO Keith Jacobs had to weather their share of challenges, too, particularly on Saturday when the weather mark blew away in the building breeze during the day’s last race and the mark boat crew had to sub in suddenly for the missing cylinder. Thanks for contributions from Todd Hiller- USA #207- and Dan Phelps/ Spinsheet.com. Full results and photos can be found here (and here). For more J/70 Fall Brawl sailing information