You remember what real multihulls engaging in real racing was like, don’t you? We know, it’s easy to think that the fiasco taking place in Valencia is now what has taken the place of real racing, but it hasn’t…
31 A-Cats and 26 505’s sailed a tough midwinter championship Feb 5-7 at Fort Desoto State Park near St. Petersburg. The sailing venue was located on the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge where Tampa Bay opens to the Gulf of Mexico.
The first day of racing was cancelled for the A-Class. At the skipper’s meeting the wind was blowing from the southeast at 10-12 knots but forecast to build into the high 20’s with thunderstorms and squall lines. The A-Class chose to stay on the beach. The 505’s ventured on to the water and within an hour the breeze had built into the low 20’s and kept increasing with gusts up to 33 knots at mid-day. The 505’s were able to get one race off with 12 boats managing to finish the race. The breeze was onshore and it was carnage trying to get back on the beach for the 505 crews (fixed rudder, jib has to stay up to keep the mast up). Several boats capsized in the shore break, masts were tweaked, and crews were getting separated from each other. Luckily no one was hurt and all damage was fixable. The wonderful wives of 505 fleet 15 put on an amazing spread of food for the hungry sailors at the Pass A grill Women’s Club where a good time was had by all.
Everyone showed up at the beach on Saturday morning hopeful at least some racing would be completed. The breeze was blowing 15-18 knots from the north when both fleets launched but once everyone had arrived to the starting area, it increased into the mid 20’s again. At the start, the wind was over the A-Class maximum but the race was started anyhow. Half of the fleet headed back upwind to the beach with the other half starting the race. Half of this remainder just kept going past the first weather mark to the beach while seven boats continued to race. Three more boats called it quits at the last weather mark (your humbled reporter was in that lot, the puffs were getting into the high 20’s at this point) and only Randy Smyth, Ben Moon, Jonathan Farrar, and Mike Baker finished. After 45min of racing in 25 – 30kns there was only ½ a boat length in it at the finish with Ben just nipping Randy for the race win. With the puffs continuing in the low 30’s, racing was over for the day. The 505’s got two races in but again, less than half the fleet competed the 2nd race. It was a much better day for them getting on to the beach with the offshore breeze. The fleets were met ashore with sandwiches and beer where the tall stories of the epic day continued! The evening was a free night with most of the sailors collecting in groups and dining in the beautiful down town St Petersburg. A large group of both 505 and A cat sailors then continued to sample/be the evening entertainment at a select few down town bars. Fun time and sore heads!
The final day presented a shifty/puffy 10-18 knots northerly and both fleets completed three races. The skies were grey and temps were in the high 40’s. There was a very confused chop with the current against the wind direction. The combination made for very tough racing conditions. No lead was safe and the winner of each race was not established until the last 30 yards. Both fleets had races where the top 10 boats finished within 30 seconds of each other. In the A-Class, Bob Webbon had a fantastic day with two race wins. Ben Moon and Ben Hall were the next best performers with all of their race finishes in the top four. Brett Moss managed a well deserved win in Race two. We are fortunate to have a bunch of new sailors in the class for this event. 2007 US Rolex yachtsman of the year Jeff Linton had a good start with a 6th in race one of the day and was well positioned in race two before a rudder issue forced him beach to the beach. Jahn Tihansky from MD and coach at the US Naval Academy also had a strong start with a 5th in race one of the day and finishing 9th overall.
The final top five in the A-Class (boat-mast-sail):
- Ben Moon (ASG3, Fiberfoam, Ashby)
- Jonathan Farrar (A2, Hall, Farrar)
- Bob Webbon (Marstrom M5, Hall, Landenberger)
- Ben Hall (Barracuda, Hall, Cogan)
- Mike Baker (Marstrom M3, Marstrom,?)
Augie Diaz won the 505 class, 2nd year in a row for him to win this event.
Special thanks to Ethan Bixby, Lin Robson and the 505 class and making us a part of this event and thanks to PRO Dave Ellis and his volunteer race management team.
A special mention of sportsmanship for the weekend needs to go to that of Martin Hamilton from TX. Martin not only led the fleet at the top mark of race 1 of the day he gave away race 3 & 4 to standby Rush Bird after a heavy and lengthy capsize. Rush has been recovering from heavy cancer treatment and was very vocal on his appreciation of Martin.
Good work Martin, Class A!!