Pistols at dawn. Chevys at Daytona. Vipers off Long Beach. Pick your dueling weapons carefully, and watch out for the quick draw artists, a/k/a wily class veterans. Heading into the final day of the Viper 640 North Americans at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, the title looked to be class newcomer Jeff Grange’s for the taking. The yellow boat from Santa Barbara had led wire-to-wire through the first 11 races of the windy event, showing particular speed when the breeze came up after high noon. However, the standings were close, with local Kevin Taugher and three-time champ Brad Boston narrowing the gap each day to trail by only four points. The past champ from Sarnia, Ontario threw down the gauntlet in the day’s first race.
Despite being over early in Race 12, Boston with ace crews Curtis Florence and Chad Corning were able to restart and get to the favored right side, grinding through the fleet to win the race. When Grange and crew Tedd White and Chris Parker had spinnaker trouble that dropped them to ninth, Boston grabbed the lead. With two races to go, a building southwester, and building swell in the face of Hurricane Norbert coming up the coast, the final two races saw the leaders eye to eye, with none of the three teams blinking. Boston took no prisoners in Race 13, taking another bullet while putting one in the chances of the two Californians to keep the class title on the west coast for the first time.
Needing only a fifth in the 14th and final race, Boston and crew felt the heat, rounding the windward mark in that position with the Californians planing away at 15+ knots. The champs slowly ground it back to a podium spot, and when Taugher nipped Grange at the finish line, the team aboard Hot Mess clinched second by a single point. Final results at and more photos from Bronny Daniels.