Etchells NAs: Battle of Western Long Island Sound

Published on September 10th, 2015

Rye, NY (September 10, 2015) – The massive amount of sea life activity has to be a good thing! The appearance of a humpback whale in the sound for yesterday’s practice race got some sailors thinking! Nonetheless, the 36 boat international Etchells NAs got off to a flying start despite the inclement forecast in a building Easterly breeze in Western Long Island Sound Thursday.

Race 1: Course 4, 6-10 KTS, Last of the Flood, slack, early ebb tide. Breeze 080
Race One started right on time at 1055 by longtime Etchells sailor and PRO for this regatta, Donny Dowd and his team from American YC. Race One posed an immediate dilemma for teams looking to make a great start, with dark clouds forming over the Long Island Shore and clear bands of pressure rolling out of Captains Harbor on the mainland shore near Greenwich.

Off the pin-favored line, it was the left pack that got punched early and made a nice jump on the fleet. The Hardenberg brothers (Ted, Jamie and Mark) won the pin and led the march out left with Steve Girling’s team of Zeke Horowitz and David Lutian holding a nice lane above them. In the middle, it was Steve Benjamin, sailing with George Peet, Luke Lawrence and Julian Sudofsky who was first to show, benefiting from some nice right shift in pressure.

In the first cross, Girling ducked Benjamin as they switched sides, which worked out great for Benji who made a nice jump on the pack, while Peter Duncan, sailing with Jud Smith and Tom Blackwell, Skip Dieball, sailing with Jon McClean and Jeff Eiber, Kevin Grainger, sailing with Scott Norris and Max Skelley, John Edenbach, sailing with TJ Pascalides and Will Christensen and Shannon Bush, sailing with Brad Boston and Kurt Oetking all put their stamp on a top 5 rounding. At the top mark it was Benji, with a nice lead, followed by Duncan, Bush, Girling and Dieball.

A tricky run ensued with some center course righties tempting boats away from the starboard gybe lane. Benji was the first to go, and despite looking painfully light for a time, eventually picked up the new breeze and was off…again.

Up the second beat it was still tricky, as a right shift rolled through making for a left biased upwind leg. Those patient enough to stay on starboard and wait for the pressure and oscillation back to the left were rewarded with nice gains on the boats that had hitched right. Benji and Duncan extended nicely on the leg and were sitting pretty at the final windward mark, now with Skip Dieball, Kevin Grainger and Jon Edenback hot on their heels. They finished in that order after a tricky run into the line in patchy downwind pressure.

Race 2: Course 4, 10-14 KTS, Building Ebb Current, Wind over tide. Breeze 095. Black Flag Start.
New race, same dilemma! If you thought reading the race track in race one was tricky, race two was even trickierer..!!!! 
Dark clouds placed an imposing shadow on the right edge of the course (the Long Island side), while a raining cloud sent oscillating puffs down the middle and the geographic influence of the left was bound to offer some nice lefties.

Race 2 saw several recalled starts on a heavily pin favored line, before Donny and team moved the pin back and, without hesitation, hoisted the black flag. It was still the pin end boats that got away best…if they were able to tack!!

Dirker Kneulman, sailing with Hank Lammens and Kent Paisley nailed the start of the day, 6 boats up from the pin and flipped immediately onto port, crossing the fleet. After a wiggle, Girling’s Team Lion Heart was able to execute their own flip to port, and the drag race back to the center of the course was on.

Kneulman flipped back to starboard to shepherd the pack that had made some nice gains on the middle left of the track. Girling ducked and continued out right towards, what looked like, good pressure. A nice long beat (1.8 NMs) presented lots of opportunities for gains and losses. But, as anyone of you who have sailed Etchells know, the boats are incredibly evenly matched, because of the strict one-design rules and so, even after 2 miles or more upwind, we’re all rounding in the space of a minute…!

Kevin Grainger’s team, again in the hunt, found a couple of nice shifts middle left and got launched halfway up the beat and never looked back! They held on for a wire-to-wire win with some impressive upwind speed. Back in the slightly cheaper seats, Michael Gavin, sailing with Bill Abbott, Guy Rittger and Austin Schaefer sailed a nice beat to squeak in at the top mark ahead of Girling, Jeff Siegel, sailing with Tom Burnham, Willem Van Waay and Sarah Callahan, Kneulman and Dieball.
The fleet enjoyed nice downwind surfing conditions as the building ebb kicked in, with gains to the teams who worked the hardest while staying in the pressure.

At the second top mark, things were even tighter, with Gavin and Siegel now ahead of Kneulman and Girling (all overlapped rounding the mark), and Dieball hot on their heels.

On the run to the finish, Grainger was gone, for the win, Gavin and Siegel got away from Girling and Kneulman. They finished in that order.

Race 3: Course 4, 14-8-15 KTS, Building Ebb Current, Wind over tide. Breeze 105. Black Flag Start.
Race three was challenging as some heavy-raining clouds encroached and then enveloped the course. Off the line, Benji was back in the hunt, winning the pin and leading out left, before taking a long port tack back to the right. Meantime, the fleet off the middle of the line were doing so well that the port layline approached too quickly for many teams in the left half of the track.

Kneulman did a nice job of playing the middle right and rounded the first mark with a nice lead. Senet Bischoff, sailing with Ben Kinney and Clay Bischoff were next around with a nice gap back to a close pack of boats in third.

As teams turned downwind, torrential rain and .5Nm visibility made the run quite tricky. About two thirds of the way down, the leeward marks appeared out of the storm as the RC again adjusted the course to try to keep things square.

At the leeward mark, team Bischoff, who must have had Vasco da Gama sailing with them, was able to sneak ahead of Kneulman and lead the fleet back uphill. Benji and now Gavin were also in the lead pack.

Unfortunately, there was no indication of where the mark was until halfway back up wind and many teams over stood. A tricky beat ensued, with the adjusted course skewed right of track, the teams who managed to work the right side of the track, made nice gains. Critically, Bischoff and Gavin were now launched, while Kneulman and Benji survived over-standing from the left edge, with slightly better pressure.

The breeze came in nicely for the final run home and the leaders; Bischoff, Gavin, Kneulman, Benji and Scott Kauffman, sailing with Victor Diaz, Lucas Calabrase and Grant Simmer were happy to be ahead of the chasing pack of ten boats that crossed the line overlapped.

The fleet returned to American Yacht Club, where Commodore Peter Duncan, in 6th overall for the regatta, hosted a bratwurst and beer social gathering for a bunch of hungry sailors.

Day One Results (Top 10 of 36; 3 races)

1. Steve Benjamin / George Peet / Luke Lawrence / Julian Sudofsky , USA – 1 -11 -4 ; 16
2. Senet Bischoff / Ben Kinney / Clay Bischoff , USA – 7 -9 -1 ; 17
3. Michael Gavin / Bill Abbott / Guy Rittger / Austin Schaefer , USA – 13 -2 -2 ; 17
4. Dirker Kneulman / Hank Lammens / Kent Paisley , USA – 11 -5 -3 ; 19
5. Steve Girling/Zeke Horowitz /David Lutian , USA – 6 -4 -10 ; 20
6. Peter Duncan / Jud Smith / Tom Blackwell , USA – 2 -14 -6 ; 22
7. Jim Cunningham / Jeff Madrigali / Alan Nakanishi / Bryn Bachman , USA – 9 -8 -7 ; 24
8. Kevin Grainger / Scott Norris / Max Skelley , USA – 4 -1 -20 ; 25
9. John Edenbach / TJ Pascalides / Will Christenson , USA – 5 -17 -15 ; 37
10. Shannon Bush / Brad Boston / Curt Oetking , USA – 8 -15 -14 ; 37

Event WebsiteResults

Report by Steve Girling.

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