Hall And The Kids
US A-Class President Bob Hodges checks in after four days of A-Cat racing in the Florida Keys last week. You can see video and some hot pics of the first two days of racing here.
Despite record cold weather, twenty-eight A-Class sailors from around the country descended upon The Islander Resort in Islamorada, Florida for the 10th annual Coconut Grove Sails and Canvas Winter Race Week held last week as reported by Sailing Anarchy. This event is the first of three in the US A-Class Florida winter circuit. The week of sailing in the Florida Keys offered two regattas during four days of racing. The first is the Coconut Grove Sails and Canvas Invitational and the second is the A-Class Winter “Intergalatica” Championship. The event is certainly the most laid back and fun on the US A-Class calendar every year.
The venue is beautiful (and typically warm) and the sailors come to renew friendships and in many cases try out new gear for the coming race season. This year was no exception as eight brand new boats made their racing debut. The new kit included Ben Hall’s custom Cogan-designed Barracuda, the latest evolution of the Australian Flyer called the ASG3 manufactured by Gel Tek and distributed by Ashby Sailcraft (five new boats were racing), and the latest version of the EVO HT A-Class manufactured by Bluestreak Boatworks and sailed by Joe Leonard. All three of these designs feature the (recently) class approved curved daggerboards, so anticipation was high to see how these shiny new toys would perform. The event also featured some new, young blood including Tybee 500 veterans Tripp Burd (sailing a borrowed 2006 Bim XJ) Bailey White (sailing a recently purchased used but updated 2002 Flyer), Virginia Beach sailor Ron Roth (sailing one of the new ASG3’s), and pro sailor Jonathan Farrar (sailing a 2004 Melvin and Morrelli A2). The oldest sailor was in his mid-70s and the youngest in his early twenties – that’s how we roll.
Day 1 began under beautiful clear skies with the breeze starting out at 10-14 knots out of the north. At least the weather had warmed up from the record lows over the weekend to a tolerable high 50’s. Houston A-Class sailor Bob Webbon sailing a very dialed in 2007 Marstom M5 (recently upgraded with Marstrom hcurved daggerboards) took advantage of the sorting out being done by the sailors wit new boats and notched up two wins. He was closely followed by Ben Hall, Ian Lindhal, and Ben Moon. Ian was sailing his updated LR2 and showed the best speed yet with this 2007 design. Moon was sailing one of the ASG3’s.
Day 2 had overcast skies and slightly more breeze in the 12-16 knot range once again from the north. Three races were completed and at the end of the day, there was a three way tie for first in the series between Bob Webbon, Ben Hall, and Ian Lindhal. Initially the tie-breaker went to Lindhal but was later changed to Webbon, though it is the kind of regatta where no one really cared! But they did eat and drink at the tiki bar long after the awards… The top five were rounded out by Ben Moon in 4th and Paul Allen in 5th. Paul was sailing a recently acquired beautiful 2007 A3 built by Lars Guck in Bristol, RI.
Day 3 began the “Intergalactica” series with the blue skies returning, the northerly breeze still remaining at 12-15 knots, and finally the temperature getting over 60 degrees! Three races were sailed and Ben Hall really turned on the jets with the Barracuda notching a 2-1-1 for the day. He was followed by Ian Lindhal who had a 1-2-3 and Paul Allen who had a 4-3-2. The remainder of the top five had new faces with class president Bob Hodges in 4th (sailing another of the ASG3’s) and rookie Jonathan Farrar in 5th. The final day of racing had the lightest air of the series but it was still great and still fast racing in 8-10 knots and finally showing a north-northeast trend. Ben Hall clinched the series with a win in the first race of the day. He was followed closely by Lindhal and Allen. Paul Allen took the last race of the day and series followed by Lindhal and Bob Webbon. The final top five for this series were Hall, Lindhal, Allen, Hodges, and Farrar.
Final notes include the conclusion that the curved daggerboards do improve performance, as the boats with them seemed to have a slight but noticeable advantage downwind, especially in over 12 knots. This will not obsolete older boats as several manufacturers are offering upgrade kits that most sailors can install themselves. A big thanks for making this week of sailing happen go to regatta organizer John Schieffer, PRO Warren Green, mark boat driver Steve Lohmayer, The Islander Resort , and finally the A-Class sailors who make this event so relaxed and fun. Last but not least, it was great to meet and host SA’s Mr. Clean and his lovely Mer for three days as they covered our regatta and got to know our class better. The next regatta in this circuit is the A-Class/505 Midwinter Championship in St. Petersburg February 5-7 followed by the Admiral’s Cup in Bokeelia, Florida March 25-27, and we’ll do our best to get some pics and reports to the Anarchists!