the win

Cat freak John Casey tells us how JC and skipper Sarah Newberry won the F-16 Nationals.

After some productive Miami training sessions we packed up the Falcon F16 and headed 8 hours north to St. Andrews Bay in Panama City, FL for the Formula 16 National Championship. With the America’s Cup looking for junior talent and the Olympics going mixed multihull, there was an infusion of youngsters and mixed teams making this the biggest turnout for an F16 Nationals yet.

Another exciting revelation that’s happened is yacht club involvement in beachcat sailing. St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club opened its doors and lawn up to our 29 boat fleet and we were treated to some of the good life with a place to have a tasty lunch by our boats and a close bar to belly up to for seasoned sailors. It was a classy event that the small cats don’t get treated to so often, and it turned out we’re not such a rowdy bunch that tore up the place every night, even though I was in bed pretty early and can’t vouch for the guys that floated the kegs.

Now for what we were all there for, the racing. Since St. Andrews is an inside bay of the panhandle of Florida, it was pretty much lake conditions, well, sometimes sunny thermal mixed lake conditions. Every day was pretty cranked on the outside but we enjoyed a little less inside. It made for really technical sailing of shifts and fleet management. Quite a few teams were in the 260 lb. combined range and were fast in the first two days of lighter conditions, but we were able to hang on and be consistent playing shifts and staying in pressure. Since it was marginal hull fly downwind conditions, technique played a big role as well. Enrique Figueroa and his wife, Carla, (Puerto Rico Olympic Team) played a really nice deep downwind pro game against our high and fly technique and we pretty much broke even. A host of other teams were showing speed as well, keeping it close through the event.

In the beginnings of Sunday there was a three-way tie at the top. Our consistency played a key role when we had a race outside of the top four for a throw. When we were regrouping after that race, the southeast breeze freshened and we knew we had our conditions. We were finally able to use our horsepower for a finishing 1-2 which earned us and the Falcon our first F16 National Championship, even though we miscounted our laps on the last race. Isn’t that the crew’s job? Oh, I am the crew. I need to get used to that. Results are here.

There were some grumblings (from people that were not actually racing) that the last race wasn’t started on time (2:01 PM), but just to set the record completely straight, check out theSailing Instructions…..let it go, geez. We were there to race, right?

Now we’ve split up….just for the week. Sarah’s at the U.S. Multihull Championship to continue her Falcon run with Kenny ‘Monster’ Pierce, and I’m in St. Barth on the Cirrus F18 for the amazing CataCup. Life is good…..

Killer photo credit David Hein at Boatyard Photography.