Offering Alternatives to Windward/Leeward Racing

Published on July 7th, 2014

For some years, the measure of a serious regatta has been strongly tied to how well the course axis is aligned with the wind direction and whether the starting line is perfectly square to the wind. But the pendulum of participant opinion is moving slowly toward less rigidity and more fun.

The NOOD regattas in San Diego, Seattle, and Chicago offered racing on random leg courses. One fourth of the entrants at Long Beach Race Week competed around government marks, oil islands, and breakwaters. Even the TP52 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy on June 10-14 scheduled two days for windward/leeward racing and three days for coastal courses.

This year, more and more events are offering alternatives to windward/leeward racing.

Perhaps the best idea in 2014 has come from Charleston Race Week, where the last race of the day for the HPR Class was a “race to the dock”.

The course began with windward/leeward legs, but then the final leg took the fleet home through the harbor to a finish near their marina. On board the Carkeek 40 Spookie, navigator Bora Gulari said this middle-distance addition was a welcome change. “These boats sail so much faster than they can go under engine power, and it’s ten times more fun to race back to the harbor than it is to drive a motorboat back.”

Here are a few upcoming events that have come across the Scuttlebutt radar…

* The 2014 edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup will take place in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Brittany, France on July 7-11, with the racing to have a mixture of windward/leeward and coastal courses.

* The 2014 New York Yacht Club Race Week on July 12-19 will include, in addition to buoy racing, a mid-distance race, plus racing may also include using government marks and a compact “stadium” course inside Narragansett Bay by Fort Adams.

* The Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek in Thailand on July 16-20 is the season-opening event of the 2014/15 AsianYachting Grand Prix – a series of 12 of the best regattas in Asia. The schedule seeks to provide a mix of courses to suit all boat types, offering windward/ leewards, passage races, and island courses.

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