Tough contitions test fleet at Flying Dutchman U.S. National Championship
Published on September 28th, 2014
It was a tough start for the Flying Dutchman US National Championship, being held September 26-28 at Santa Cruz,CA.
The weather forecast for the weekend promised light winds from WSW, typical for the time of the year, but the local sailors knew better and warned participants on shore that the breeze typically fills in and sure enough – we ended with heavy air, 15-18 mph from SW, gusts to exceed 25 mph which is nothing for the enduring FD’s, but requires skills and perseverance.
Three races were completed on Friday, though only one FD made it to shore without capsizing, and several competitors had to retire. US-36, a brand new Mader ’12 skippered by Lin Robson of St. Petersburg, FL (SPYC) and his crew Ian Gregg out of Brisbane, Australia, lead with three solid bullets followed by local US-1453 Buzz Ballenger from Santa Cruz (SCYC) and his crew Kurt Hemmingsen in second and US-251 Tim Sayles also SPYC and his crew Ondrej Lehecka from Seattle (Czech Republic originally) in third despite having to retire after a dramatic capsize. Going into last race of the day, a massive rain storm swept across the race course to reduce visibility to less than 100 yards, which launched the boats on 6-8 ft. rolling surf at top speed of 20-25 mph. Local US-1 skipper Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff of SCYC and his local crew Evan Diola (SCYC) had to retire with a broken goose-neck.
Saturday turned out to be a better day with a little less breeze on the course. “The Wounded Moose Deuce” US-1445 from Seattle skippered by Peter Carr of Sloop Tavern Yacht Club and his courageous crew Eric Andersen made it through three races to finish competitively in fourth overall, followed by local sailor Gordon Dollar of SCYC onboard “Betty Boop” US-1454 and his crew, Oregon based, Duane Ehleringer, who also owns Pacific Flying Dutchman where he builds all-carbon FD’s. Competing in US-88, Mike Meszaros from Inverness YC and his Austrian crew out of Sacramento, Gerhard Panuschka, had a bad spill and capsize in the first race, filled the bulkhead with water which unfortunately ended their day.
Luckily, US-251 with Tim and Ondrej made it to the starting line despite an all-night rudder and tiller repair effort. They improved their performance to finish second for the day, still in third overall after US-1453 Buzz with substitute crew, Evan Diola in second by a 3 point lead. The regatta leader, US-36 Lin and Ian remained untouchable with a straight line of first finishes.
Sunday arrived and the weather Gods had mercy on the competitors. Two light wind races were completed, but no less drama in the middle of the fleet. The Wrenn brothers in US-301, Jeff and his crew Chris of Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, MD were determined to finish in good style and mix it in the top of the fleet with a best finish in last race in third. With some big wind shifts on the course, positions changed frequently and it was Tim and Ondrej in US-251 who came out best of the day aside from the leader. US-1452 a classic ’84 Mader skippered by local SCYC sailor, Jean Jimenez (JJ) and his crew Peter Henck made it around the course to recover from the prior races challenges.
Final results (8 races, 1 discard)
1. USA 36, Lin Robson, SPSC, -1-1-1-1-1-1-1- ; 7
2. 1453, Buzz Ballenger, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, 2-2-2-3-3-2-3-- ; 17
3. USA251, Tim Sayles, SPSC, 4-3-[10/DNF]-2-2-3-2-2- ; 18
4. US 1445, Peter Carr, Sloop Tavern Yacht Club, [10/DNF]-10/DNF-10/DNS-4-5-5-6-6- ; 46
5. USA 88, Mike Meszaros, Inverness Yacht Club, 3-[10/DNF]-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-4-5- ; 52T
6. 1454, Gordon Dollar, SCYC, 7-[10/DNS]-10/DNS-10/DNS-4-4-7-10/DNS- ; 52T
7. USA 301, Jeff Wrenn, Severn Sailing Assoc, 5-[10/DNF]-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-5-3- ; 53
8. USA 1, Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, 6-[10/DNF]-10/DNS-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC- ; 66
9. US 1451, Jean Jimenez, SCYC, [10/DNF]-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-10/DNS-8-10/DNF- ; 68
Event website: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/9122
Report by Kurt Hemmingsen. Photo by Peter Carr.