the closer

race report

the closer

IOM US National Championship
Mission Bay Park
San Diego, CA

If you’re one of those who thought IOM radio sailing was a goat rodeo, you didn’t catch the final race of the US IOM National Championship Sunday afternoon at Mission Bay Park.

The day was much the same as the previous 3 or any other day here in Dago (as the Ed, calls it). Light in the morning, a little breeze during the day and getting lighter in the afternoon and the sheep were nervous. The heavies had a lot to lose and it was still anyone’s event to claim.  Their biggest fear being, the unpredictable back row nose-picker getting lucky and running the table before anyone could put a stop to it.

Race 16, heat C kicked off the day at 10:30 with the usual shifty, unsettled morning breeze without incident then rolling smoothly into heat B.

Now, for those who aren’t familiar with heat racing; the fleet is divided into heats of 20 boats (A,B & C…etc) and  run in reverse order with the top and bottom 6 boats promoted up or relegated down, and what makes it interesting is it gives the unlucky a chance to redeem themselves by moving up to the next level as a reward for being one of the top 6 boats to finish that heat. This also makes the next heat players wary because it injects the unpredictable element of slower traffic. If you belong there, no problem….if you don’t you’d better have respect for the players.

Bahamian Stan Wallace came from way back starting from C heat who won the race but it was George Pedrick who managed a 2nd to move into 3rd  overall and the wildcard spot.

Race 17;  Craig Mackey won and claimed 4th overall vacated by Pedrick as he moved up was now the new wild card in 4th. Tony Gonsalves (sailing his Cheinz, #51 above) and his and Zack Alyea sat in the rocking chair (still 1st & 2nd overall) played it cool staying out of trouble with a 6th and 7th respectively.

Race 18; Canadian Peter Van Rossem (4 time US Champion) won this race which didn’t change things much. However, Tony was 2nd adding more pressure to Zack’s situation with Pedrick still 3rd. overall breathing down their necks with a 6th  place finish.

Racing was suspended for a back row protest hearing which didn’t amount to much with a dismissal, (but that’s the way things are handled w/MHS), allowing the leaders a short break to reflect and plan their moves in the upcoming last race.

Race 19;  The gallery was on its feet as the A heat boats went in the water and you could hear a squirrel fart it was so quiet.  Tony had an 8pt. cushion over Zack  with Pedrick 2pts. behind him sitting in 3rd.  and it wouldn’t take much for Tony or Zack to screw the pooch opening the door for Pedrick to waltz through as the breeze dropped below 4kts.

The timer starts……boats mill about the line…..3,2,1…..Bong-General recall!  

Now, if you’ve been reading your previous days SA homework assignments you have a pretty good idea of what’s next when the Brazilian born PRO Freddie Rocha turns to a bunch of jiggy skippers and says “the lack flag is up”.  No “I” flag, straight to the black flag. Unusual, but perfectly legal and proper.

Timer starts again……..Tony on the leeward end and Zack in the middle somewhere and is hard to see in the slow moving starters….3,2,1…Bong… All clear.   Tony is clear and rolling left and Zack is nosing clear with a slight header but can’t get onto port. Tony reaches the left side of the course and calls for water and tacks clear with a nice lift to cross the slower boats, and heads back to the middle. At the first cross, Zack is slightly behind and continues left. Tony tacks to slap a loose cover on him and starts scanning the fleet for Pedrick…….no Pedrick….where the hell is he?  Tony’s first priority was to cover Zack then worry about Pedrick……but Pedrick got away and is one of the 8 boats that rounded the weather mark before Tony.  

OK then, back to covering Zack……Tony rounds the weather mark in 8th. Zack is 10th. Down the run, boats fan out 8 abreast in the lead group and 12 in the following……gonna be a busy gate. Tony picks up two and rounds the starboard side of the gate and tacks back to the center to stay in touch with Zack who faded a little and rounded the port side of the gate and is looking for the big one on the left that never comes.  But Tony who is well centered, is in perfect position to catch the 10 degree pressure righty and rockets up the middle nearly laying the weather mark, rounds forth.  

On the run again and Zack is staying in touch.  Tony rounds the right side of the gate again and picks up Pedrick rounding the port side who quickly tacks onto port to get as far to the right side as he can to minimize the damage Tony is about to inflict on the entire fleet. The righty comes again and he passes the remaining 5 boats to win the race and his second US IOM National title. 13pts. over Zack and 16pts. over Pedrick.
The close.  The winners are truly a different breed.

Special kudos to PRO Freddie Rocha for a job even Luigi would approve of along with the staff and leadership of the San Diego Argonauts for hosting a classy event.

PS. The Jungle drums say the Ed is about spring for Britpop…..I sure hope so. (I am really close to getting a really nice Picanto! – Ed)

Filed by Jake Leo