The nation’s 20 top high school double-handed teams met over the weekend to compete for their national championship (the Mallory Trophy) at Indian Harbor Yacht Club (Greenwich CT).
Friday was registration and practice day. Most teams took advantage of the opportunity to get out in very benign conditions. The Race Committee ran eight short up-and-back courses in a 6-8 knot southerly. Most teams attempted to avoid the practice race jinx by racing upwind and back but refusing to actually cross the finish line. And most teams knew the conditions being raced in on Friday where unlikely to be representative of racing to come.
Commanders’ Weather forecast for Saturday called for unsettled conditions early preceding the arrival of the cold front followed by a rapid acceleration in wind strength with the breeze expected to top out at over 40 knots. Knowing the opportunities to get in racing was going to limited, the RC attempted a first race in 4-6 knots out of the SSE. Regretably, the breeze shut down completely on the final leg and with an ebb tide, the competitors were unable to make progress downwind and the race had to be abandoned.
The re-sail of Race 1 was undertaken a short while later in a light southerly. The first beat was reasonably clean but soon it became apparent that the leading edge of the front was about to reach the race course and with it, a westerly breeze. The RC put in place a change of course. And here is where controversy ensued. Given the large wind shift and the fact that boats were soon reaching to the leeward gate, the mark boats had a limited amount of time to execute a rather dramatic change. High school rules do not require the use of the “C” flag and he RC was discouraged from using it as a courtesy signal. Instead, the rules require that no mark be moved while boats are on that leg of the course. While to some, the two mark boats seemed to successfully deploy and retrieve their respective marks prior to the first boat’s rounding of the leeward mark, the judges felt there was enough doubt and enough potential confusion that upon completion of the race, the race was abandoned. Naturally, a redress request was filed.
The top couple of finishers argued that the intention was clear to them and while the old mark was maybe not fully out of the water as they rounded the leeward gate, it was in the process of being pulled. Ultimately, the protest committee determined that the RC had deployed the new mark in time but had not lifted the old mark prior to the first boat being on the affected leg and while it broke procedural rules, it also erred by abandoning the race after boats had finished without considering the consequences for all boats as required by RRS 32.1. It was subsequently determined that rounding and finishing places were not materially altered over the course of the changed leg and the race was reinstated. Naturally enough, this led to a new redress request to re-throw out the race which was heard and denied.
So with only two A division races sailed on Saturday, racing began on Sunday with Commanders’ forecasting breezes likely to top 40 knots and the need to get in four more races to constitute a series. Fortunately, the host club was able to move enough of its member boats from its mooring field that relatively protected racing could be run inside the harbor. But in order to get any semblance of something approaching a reasonably long course, the signal boat was backed up against the leeward shore and the windward mark tucked in just shy of the channel and under the windward shore. By being so close to shore, and being a generally NW breeze, the conditions, while not full survival 100% of the time, were definitely challenging.
Lots of flat out hiking one moment to crews inside the boat the next (particularly during the offset leg). Lots of auto tacks and near capsizes to windward. And even though the moored boats had been removed, there were still lots of mooring balls and winte r sticks to contend with. The competitors coped well with the various challenges and 18 races were run. And for the record… the signal boat, which was at the furthest point from the windward shore recorded sustained periods of 22 – 25 knots with peaks at the start and end of racing just shy of 30 knots.
The 18 races sailed on Sunday resulted in a nice 20 race series. California schools took the top three places and placed four teams in the top six. On top was Cathedral Catholic from San Diego (#11 picured above) with 111 points (12 points better than their nearest competitor). Key to the Don’s success was being the only team to card fewer that five finishes in the bottom half of the fleet. Article thanks to Johnathan Nye and photos thanks to PhotoBoat.
Top ten results:
- Cathedral Catholic
San Diego, CA
- Point Loma HS
San Diego, CA
- Newport Harbor HS
- Lake Forest HS
Lake Forest, IL
- Broadneck HS
- Coronado HS
- Severn HS
Severn Park, MD
- Antilles School
St. Thomas VI
- Sarasota HS
- Darien HS