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Etchells: Ante Razmilovic wins battle, Argyle Campbell wins war

Etchells: Ante Razmilovic wins battle, Argyle Campbell wins war

Published on March 2nd, 2015

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Argyle Campbell and his crew of Michael Menninger, Nick Martin and Kayla McComb

The 2014-15 Etchells North American Midwinter East Series wrapped up in Miami with the 3-day Jaguar Southeastern Midwinter Regatta for the Schoonmaker Cup on Feb. 27-Mar. 1. The Jag, as the series has become better known, attracted almost 60 boats for the four regatta series.

The scoring for the overall series crown is comprised of a boat’s best two finish places in the first three regattas of the series plus her score in the Midwinter Championship Regatta. Going into the finale, as many as ten teams had a legitimate shot at the overall series crown.

Friday’s first race began under overcast skies with a light northerly breeze in the 6-8 knot range. A course 4 (four legs) was set with a bearing of 000 degrees and a length of the first beat of 1.5 miles.

The 50-boat fleet was anxious to race and 13 boats were called over early by PRO Dave Brannan. Included in that list were five of the top nine boats challenging for the overall title. In this fleet, that usually leads to a poor result.

On the first upwind a big righty came in, favoring those on that side of the course. First to the top mark was George Francisco’s American Baby. He was closely followed by Ted Hardenbergh on Natasha and Nicholas Stagg on China Wight in second and third respectively.

While this upwind leg was happening, the race committee was busy moving the gate marks and signal boat to square the course. They finished the job just before the first boats reached the weather mark.

Those three boats maintained the top three for the remainder of the race with Natasha and China Wight swapping positions. Finishing fourth was Jeremy Thorp on Phan. Phan, GBR 1424, is the newest Etchells in the class. Built by Heritage, the boat only arrived in Miami a week before the regatta. More on that later.

By race two the wind was fading a bit. The race went off at a bearing of 045 degrees and a length of 1.5 miles. Dave Brennan likes to start each Etchells race with a long first beat and first downwind, in an attempt to spread out the fleet. Fifty sharp pointed keel boats arriving in a leeward gate together can be rather dicey. Once the fleet has spread out some, Dave will then shorten the last two legs to keep the race to a decent length of time. Today’s races were no exception.

Despite those good intentions, the fleet reached the top mark en masse with Jim Cunningham on Lifted leading the charge. He was closely followed by Marvin Beckmann on The Martian and Stu Neff sailing Steve Benjamin’s Scimitar.

By the end of the race all three of the early leaders had dropped back and were replaced by Robert Elliott on Straight Dealer in first, Jeremy Thorp in second and Shannon Bush in third.

Shannon had this to say about the weekend’s racing, “Nothing felt good!” When asked about the third place in race two, she replied, “Even when we had a nice race it didn’t feel good.”

By race 3 the sun was out and the wind was freshening. With the breeze up to 15-16 knots, a course 5 was set with a length of 1.7 miles and a bearing of 065 degrees.

First to the top were Senet Bischoff and Ben Kinney on KGB. They were followed closely by Tony Rey sailing George Andreadis’s EFYRA 3, and Jeremy Thorp in second and third respectively. Those three stayed at the top to the end with Rey and Thorp swapping places.

By the end of the first day many were asking about the day one leader, “Who is this new guy, Jeremy Thorp?”

Jeremy is relatively new to Etchells racing, and this was his fifth regatta in the class, and first in his new boat. He mentioned he had sailed four events in Europe in his other boat before bringing Phan over for the Jag finale. His crew for this regatta was world class with two-time Etchells world champion Stuart Childerley, and top GBR Finn sailor Mark Andrews.

Jeremy said, “We were very quick on Friday. The three days of tuning before the regatta really helped. We got off the line well and followed the shifts and didn’t go too much to either side.”

Saturday dawned with a large area of bad weather just north of the course. With that weather forecast to move off to the north, the fleet sailed out on time for the 1055 first warning.

Race four got underway with a first leg heading of 105 degrees and a length of 1.6 miles. Several boats were called over early, including Bischoff/ Kinney on KGB, their second of the regatta! All but one boat cleared and the racing continued.

At the weather mark, it became apparent that a large percentage of the fleet, maybe two-thirds, had significantly over stood the mark on the left side. Arriving at the top mark in first was overall series leader, Arglye Campbell. He was followed by Scott Kaufman on American Jane and Ante Razmilovic on Swedish Blue in second and third respectively.

By the leeward gate, Phil Lotz on Arethusa had worked his way into first place, with Razmilovic second and Kaufman in third. By the second weather mark, Argyle Campbell had slid into second with Phil Lotz still leading and Razmilovic in third.

By now the weather was starting to look ugly. The black skies that had threatened all morning began to close in on Biscayne Bay. It was clear the rain was not going to move off to the north as forecast. From the course, South Beach had disappeared and the Miami Skyline was indistinguishable. The very heavy rain was indeed heading south.

At the finish, Phil Lotz held on to take the horn. Second was Argyle Campbell and third was Scott Kaufman.

At this point PRO Brennan decided ‘Discretion is the better part of Valor’ and put up the AP over A. As visibility on the bay was rapidly decreasing, he instructed the mark boats to surround the fleet and escort them back to shore. The RC boats stayed out to make sure everyone made it back safely to the docks.

The challenging conditions and start line infractions on the first two days led to some very big scores for most boats. After four races, Ante Razmilovic held the lead with 24 points, an average score of 6 for each race. In second, Argyle Campbell was averaging almost 9 points per race!

Jeremy Thorp, who enjoyed such a spectacular Friday, was not so capable on Saturday. As he said, “Saturday’s weather was rubbish!”

Back on shore, the crews were treated to another great party by Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Everyone took shelter inside to exchange war stories, or in some cases horror stories, from the day. The one constant was that everyone was looking forward to Sunday’s first race, the fifth of the regatta, when the drop would figure in the scores. With the exception of the top two boats, everybody had a race score of twenty or worse that they badly wanted to throw out.

Race five (Sunday’s first race) got started on time with a bearing to the weather mark of 100 degrees and a distance of 1.6 miles in breeze hovering in the 10-12 knot range.

Once again, several boats were a bit too forceful and were called over early. Bischoff/ Kinney on KGB picked up their third X-flag out of six races. But just as they had on Friday, they cleared themselves quickly and dug back up the fleet. According to Ben Kinney, crew Clay Bischoff said in a bit of an understatement, “That wasn’t great regatta management on our part.”

As the fleet headed upwind the breeze started to clock slowly right, but that didn’t stop the majority of the fleet from going left. In fact at one point, looking downwind, only 8 of 52 boats were on the right side of the course. So many boats were over stood that it looked like a huge wreck was sure to occur. Argyle Campbell and Gary Gilbert on Annie came from the left middle to lead at the mark by seven boat lengths. They were followed by a large group coming from the right, led by Jose Fuentes on Caramba. Tony Rey and Ante Razmilovic both came from the left, lee-bowed Jose and slipped around the mark in third and fourth respectively.

Then the chaos ensued. One close call to a crash was when one boat from the left side was so over stood, they had to find a hole between the offset and weather marks to duck down through. Miraculously, they found a hole and dropped through to allow a proper mark rounding. Lots of screaming but “no harm, no foul.”

Another boat was not so lucky. Arriving at the zone on port, it appeared they hoped the boat overlapped to weather would tack into a nice hole, but that boat delayed so long it sent the first boat on a collision course with a line of starboard tack boats. Only quick crash tacks by the first two starboard tack boats avoided the leeward one of the pair from getting T-boned.

It got so chaotic, the RC boats had to flee the mark area to allow room for all of the boats doing penalty turns.

Click here for a photo sequence of when it went pear-shaped for three boats.

The first three boats at the weather mark were in the same order at the leeward gate. Amazingly KGB had managed to work their way back to fourth place after their being over early.

Two laps later and Argyle Campbell led Ante Razmilovic across the line for the win. Jose Fuentes came on strong for third.

The sixth and final race of the regatta was set as a course 5 with a bearing of 100 to the weather mark and a distance of 1.8 miles. By now, everyone was pushing the line, and in what is almost never seen, PRO Brennan pulled out the general recall flag after a large group of boats were over early.

After re-setting the weather mark bearing to 105 the boats headed off on the last race of this year’s Jag.

The first three boats to the top were Phil Lotz on Arethusa, Peter Duncan on Raging Rooster and Stu Neff on Scimitar. After the five legs, Neff held off Lotz for the win with Ernie Pomerleau easing into third.

Winning the Midwinter regatta, with a total score of 26, was Ante Razmilovic and his crew of Chris Larson and Stuart Finn. Finishing second, with 35 points was Argyle Campbell and his crew of Michael Menninger, Nick Martin and Kayla McComb. In third were Senet Bischoff and Ben Kinney with Clay Bischoff as their third. Fourth place went to Jeremy Thorp. Rounding out the top five was Marvin Beckmann, sailing with US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Stephanie Roble.

Steph was excited about sailing the Etchells. She said, “The Etchells is really fun. We were a new team, and to make the podium our first time out as a team was pretty nice.” Marvin, Steph and the team will now move on to San Diego for a couple of events.

In the Corinthian Division, first place went to KGB. Ben Kinney pointed out, “We are just three guys with regular day jobs. In fact now that the G of KGB is no longer a partner in the boat, maybe we should change the name to Guys with Day Jobs?” He went on, “No, we got into this class because it’s such a deep fleet with lots of talent on most of the boats.”

Second went to Vasyl Gureyev on Arcturand third went to Ted Hardenbergh on Natasha

Winning the overall Etchells Winter Series with a score line of 2-2-2, was Argyle Campbell. Second went to Senet Bischoff and Ben Kinney on KGB. Rounding out the top three was Ante Razmilovic on Swedish Blue.

On speaking of his success in the series Argyle said, “We were consistent. But that’s only part of it. Probably the two biggest reasons for our consistency were coaching and practice.” He continued, “Having Vince Brun to coach us really helped us understand the boat’s tuning. We practiced seven days for nine days of racing. All of that coaching and practice were critical because when racing begins you haven’t forgotten anything.”

Some of the teams will stick around Miami to sail the Coral Reef Cup in two weeks. Others will make the cross country trek to San Diego for Midwinters West and Nationals.

Report and photos by John Payne.

Midwinters Regatta ResultsJag Series Overall Standings

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From left: Nick Martin, Argyle Campbell, Michael Menninger, and Kayla McComb

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From left: Ante Razmilovic, Chris Larson and Stuart Finn

2015 Jaguar Series:
Dec. 6-7: Louis Piana Cup Regatta
Jan. 10-11: Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta
Feb. 7-8: Florida State Championship Regatta
Feb. 27-Mar. 1: Mid-Winter’s East Regatta for the Schoonmaker Cup

To qualify for the JAGUAR CUP SERIES, boats must count their place in the Mid-Winters Regatta, and any two of the other three individual regattas (Piana Cup, Sidney Doren Memorial, Florida State Championship). Place scores from each individual regatta of the series will be used with a Low Point Scoring System (1st Place = 1 point, 2nd Place = 2 points, 3rd Place = 3 points, etc.). The boat with the lowest score will be declared the winner of the 2014 JAGUAR CUP SERIES.

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