Cal Maritime wins College Big Boat National Championship
Published on November 10th, 2013
True fall weather greeted sailors competing in the 2013 Kennedy Cup Regatta at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Ten teams from around the country were on hand to contest the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Big Boat National Championship on Nov. 8-10 aboard the US Naval Academy’s fleet of 44-foot sloops.
Friday, November 8
Following a frontal passage, strong WNW breeze built throughout the day peaking in the low 30 kt range before the dust settled for the day. PRO Taran Teague and her gang of hearty NASS RC members set up a windward leeward course off Tolly Point in the Chesapeake Bay. By the 1200 first warning, velocity was in the low 20s with temps in high 40s. #3 jibs and no spinnaker sail restrictions were imposed in order to preserve the fleet for the weekend. Cal Maritime got off to a fast start in race 1 and led wire to wire despite blowing the tack ring off their jib on the second beat. Michigan State led a three wide scrum to the finish to take 2nd while Navy got 3rd about 5 feet ahead of U Michigan.
The breeze continued to build and same restrictions remained in place for race 2, a five leg affair designed to get competitors closer to the dock after finishing! Velocity was now a steady 20 with gusts in the mid 30s taxing both trimmers and drivers to keep their boats on their feet and moving upwind. Despite a mediocre start, Mass Maritime immediately got in phase with the shifts and jumped out to a substantial lead which they would not relinquish. With the big breeze causing major leeway through the water and a building ebb, calling laylines was a big challenge and many teams were caught by surprise on weather mark approaches compelling a couple of rule 31 violations as well as general misery for aggressive tacticians. Cal Maritime finished second but took an I flag penalty for a close cross with KP. Coast Guard sailed strong to nail 3rd and Michigan showed great consistency taking 4th in another 3 wide photo finish. Navy finished 5th there but accepted a rule 31 I flag penalty for hitting a weather mark while KP got the short end of the stick with a 6th.
So after day 1, Cal Maritime is on top with 5 points followed by Mass Maritime and Michigan who are tied at 8. Maine Maritime suffered a failed backstay hydraulic ram and will be awarded average points from their Saturday races for today’s race scores.
Forecast is for more docile conditions tomorrow which should allow different skill sets to come into play.
Saturday, November 9
Day 2 at the 2013 Kennedy Cup was an ideal day for racing with a cloudless sky, warming temperatures and a decent southwesterly breeze. After a brief postponement, PRO Taran Teague got race 3 underway for a 4 leg, 1.3 mile course. Cal Maritime and Michigan got decent mid line starts while Coast Guard nailed the pin and flushed Navy deep. Shortly thereafter, a significant left shift came in and Teague opted to abandon and called the competitors back to start again. No one breathed relief more than Navy.
In the restart, Coast Guard again won the pin with Navy on their hip while Cal Maritime and Michigan started further up the line. SUNY found their mojo and passed a couple of boats on the second beat to build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Cal Maritime made a nice comeback as well, getting past Navy to take second. Navy 3rd and U Michigan continued their string of 4ths. For Race 4, Teague opted for a 5 leg course with an upwind finish. While the breeze had settled onto a SSW median but with surprisingly large oscillations. Michigan, Navy and SUNY battled for the lead around the first 4 legs while Cal Maritime suffered multiple mishaps and eventually got DSQ for an altercation with Navy. This race came down to the wire with 2nd through 6 places being separated by less than 2 boat lengths. SUNY won again followed by Mass Maritime then Navy. At this point there were 5 teams within 2 points of the lead.
After a small delay waiting for commercial traffic to play through, Teague set up a four leg course for the final race of the day. The breeze had backed around a bit more and also freshened which was aided by the now ebbing current. With the ebb came increased chop. During the delay, most teams opted to change down from genoas to jibs anticipating a further build. The first start was recalled with all but two boats OCS. In the I flag restart, Michigan was over by a nose and had to execute an excruciating restart around the end and hoofed it out right while the rest of the fleet dug left. Cal Maritime led after the first two legs with Navy in 2nd. Michigan had miraculously dug back to 5th and was right back in the game. Except for Cal Maritime, who had built a huge lead, the fleet was packed tight at the second weather mark with SUNY, Navy and KP arriving nearly simultaneously. SUNY tacked close to KP prompting a protest and they rounded three wide for the final run to the finish. Navy squeaked ahead of the pack to take 2nd while Michigan continued their epic comeback to snatch 3rd, proving it ain’t over until it’s over! SUNY took a 40% penalty ashore tarnishing their otherwise excellent showing for the day.
Two more races are scheduled for Sunday with a forecast calling again for solid breeze. Navy currently leads by 2 over Cal Maritime and Michigan. Showdown on the Chesapeake tomorrow!
Sunday, November 10
In perhaps the closest finish in Kennedy Cup history, this year’s regatta boiled down to the last 100 yards of the last beat of the last race.
The day began with clear skies and a southwesterly breeze in the low teens but with a forecast for a big increase and veer. Sure enough the wind went right up the first leg and built. Crews who sensed the shift capitalized. Michigan sniffed it out best and were out to a huge lead while Navy jibe set to move up to second. However, Michigan badly botched their spin drop and went from first to near last while Navy snatched the lead and held on around the next lap for the win. Mass Maritime and SUNY demonstrated their full potential to finish second and third respectively. Michigan pulled another miraculous comeback to take 4th while Cal Maritime was 5th. Going into the final race, Navy now held a seemingly comfortable 5 point lead over Michigan and 6 over Cal but with past regattas as a reminder, this regatta was not yet over..
With the breeze now on a WNW axis and gusting in the upper 20s, PRO Taran Teague designated course 5 to finish upwind and issued sail limitations restricting teams to no genoas and no spinnakers. The race got underway with 3 teams electing to reef their mains which looked to be the right move in the big blasts. Cal (one of those who reefed), was first at the top mark with SUNY, Michigan and Navy not too far back. Cal rounded the bottom gate first and sailed off to the right while SUNY and Navy tacked left for clear air. Michigan rounded in 4th and also went left. The left paid off and at the second weather mark, Michigan was up front followed by Navy then Cal. Despite the general big pressure increase, there were sizable holes on the course which wreaked havoc on the fleet and allowed for many place changes. At the bottom of the second run, Michigan led Cal to the left gate (looking upwind) while Navy opted right, all closely followed by the pack. With the finish line tucked up under the lee of Tolly Point, the closer boats got to the finish, the more erratic the wind became with 30 degree shifts and big puffs and lulls. Cal got by Michigan on the left as they approached the finish and looked to have the race locked up. But a huge right shift came in allowing Coast Guard to reach in from the right to nip Cal at the line for the bullet. Cal took 2nd and Michigan was 3rd. Meanwhile, Navy got caught trying to cover both sides of the course and dropped to 8th opening the door for Cal and Michigan. After the smoke cleared and scores were tallied, it was a three way tie at 26 points for Cal, Navy and Michigan with Cal winning the tiebreak over both Navy and Michigan, while Navy beat out Michigan for second.
So, the Cal Maritime Keelhaulers are the 2013 Kennedy Cup Intercollegiate Big Boat National Champions and have earned the right to represent the US at the 2014 Student Yachting World Cup!