Forty three A-Class catamarans from around the US and Canada gathered last week to compete for the c 2010 North American Championship hosted by North Cape Yacht Club at the western tip of Lake Erie just north of Toledo, OH. The regatta featured a duel between five time North American champion Lars Guck and multihull and iceboat star Matt Struble, pictured left. At the end of the event, Struble emerged the winner by a slim margin of three points over Guck after 9 races were completed.
While the two days prior to the first scheduled day of racing had brisk westerly winds, competitors sailed to the racing area for the first race in a dying northeasterly that shut off completely as the warning time approached. The fleet was sent in and brought back on the water later that afternoon as a southeasterly thermal filled in at 6-8 knots. Struble won race 1 followed by Guck and the tone was set for the rest of the week. A second race was attempted but at that point the lake breeze was being fought by a westerly so racing was done for the day.
Day two of racing had the breeze again out of the northeast and it stayed there for the five races sailed that day with a lot of lump and a range of 6-10 knots for the competitors. No side of the course seemed strongly favored in any of the races so those who got off the start line clean and had good speed had the best results for the day. Other than Guck scoring a 6th in the first race which Struble won, he and Struble dominated the racing for the rest of the day. The remainder of the top ten positions in each race was contested by a relatively large group of sailors which resulted in large point spread at the end of the day between the top two and the rest of the fleet.
Day three of racing had the breeze shift to the southwest and build significantly in advance of an approaching cold front. Two races were sailed in relatively small chop in 15-22 knots of breeze with the race committee recording a couple of gust bands exceeding 25 knots in both races. It was hoped to get at least four races completed but the race committee sent the fleet in after race two due to an advancing squall line. Struble and Guck traded first and seconds but were pushed by Paul Allen from Santa Cruz, CA who finished 3rd in each race.
The last day of racing started one hour early in anticipation of the offshore northwesterly dying as the day warmed up. It was a good call by the PRO as only one race was completed in the dying breeze that started out at about 6 knots but was hovering in the 3-4 knot range on the last downwind leg to the finish. Guck sailed a solid race for the win but could not distance himself from Struble who followed closely in 2nd. The breeze died to below 2 knots shortly after the finish of this race so the competitors were sent to the beach and the regatta was over when the breeze did not return.
The final top five finishers were:
1. Matt Struble (San Diego, CA) EVO/Fiberfoam/Glaser 10 pts
2. Lars Guck (Bristol, RI) A3/Fiberfoam/Glaser 13 points
3. Randy Smyth (Fort Walton Beach, FL) A2/Hall/Smyth 52 pts
4. Craig Yandow (Long Beach, CA) A3/Hall/Glaser 58 pts.
5. Paul Allen (Santa Cruz, CA) A3/Fiberfoam/Glaser 59 pts.
The top master competitor (50+) was Randy Smyth. The top grand master competitor (60+) was Craig Yandow.
Thanks are in order to the A- Class representative to North Cape Yacht Club Ian Lindhal who worked with regatta chairman Bob Pollock to orchestrate a fantastic event. Bob was an extremely gracious and effective regatta chairman who pulled together a lot of resources including PRO Matt Bounds who did an excellent job on the water in some challenging conditions with his race team. Finally a big thanks to class measurer Carla Schiefer who worked tirelessly for two days to get all the boats measured in correctly and beachmaster John Lindhal who helped get the fleet on and off water safely and efficiently every day of the event.
On a final note, one competitor we missed was Pete Melvin who certainly would have been part of the duel between Struble and Guck. Pete at the last minute had to travel to Valencia, Spain to be part of the September 13th press conference announcing that the 34th America’s Cup would be sailed in 72’ long winged catamarans. The A-Class is very proud that Pete is an author of the new design rule and the trickle up from the ranks of the A-Class to the America’s Cup is very exciting and gratifying after so many years of exciting multihull sailing being considered a sideshow to the mainstream sailing community. The US A-Class is very excited about the prospect of an infusion of America’s Cup sailors competing in the class as part of their training programs. We might see the likes of sailors like Terry Hutchinson, Paul Cayard, Morgan Larson, Kevin Hall, and others racing in our class in the coming months and leading up to the main America’s Cup event in 2013. That is a very exciting prospect!
Bob Hodges – A-Class USA 230 (Class President).