A-Class: Floaters and Foilers

A-Class: Floaters and Foilers

Published on November 24th, 2015

What went from three Canadians inviting themselves down on their way to Florida, became a 27 boat flash regatta on November 21-22 at Lake Lanier Sailing Club in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, we had over 30 boats planning to attend but a few had to miss out due to container deliveries and other things in life.

Lake Lanier provided the perfect, central location for A-cat sailors to drive for a weekend regatta. With sailors coming from New Orleans, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and even as far as Toronto, Canada, the first ever Woods Brothers Invitational Regatta was a serious success. Entry fee was a big $25 for the weekend with $10 for dinner Saturday night. Grand Prix baby with two pro photographers and unlimited drinks.

Friday brought numerous sailors to the water for 2 practice races in extremely light conditions, with the trail continuing to the Tannery Row Ale house for dinner with one of the largest HD LED displays in the country. Something about gambling and an interstate poker club. The design and development conversation raged on through the evening…foiler vs. floater was topic number one.

The battle of the two styles began Saturday in chilly temperatures and moderate wind conditions. The day began with 18 floaters and 9 foilers, trapezing both upwind and down, but tailing off to low and slow by the second race. Lake Lanier provided some fluky and shifty challenges for the sailors, but the race committee did a fantastic job getting three races in.

Bailey White took the bullet in race one, with some impressive downwind foiling in only moderate wind conditions. Races two and three provided the sailors with some seriously light wind speed and direction changes. The downwind legs were low and slow, with next to no foiling. The legend himself, Randy Smyth, took the bullet for race two with impressive downwind speed from his extra tall mast and Bimare VR1 platform, and local hero Mike Krantz came from behind to win race three by breaking from the fleet and following the shore down to pass 4 boats in the final run.

After day one, four of the top five boats were floaters. Here are top 5 from Day 1:
1st Bailey White – 1, 2, 3 – foiler
2nd Randy Smyth – 7, 1, 2 – floater
3rd Nigel Pitt – 4, 3, 4 – floater
4th Chris Bolton – 2, 6, 5 – floater
5th Mike Krantz – 5, 14, 1 – floater

Saturday evening the sailors were treated to home-style BBQ, coleslaw and beans for dinner on the beach with the bonfire blazing and six handles of dark and stormies flowing with homemade ginger beer. Later the sailors retreated to the warmth of the clubhouse for more drinks and a video review of the recent A Class World Championship. Everyone watched in awe as Glenn Ashby and Mischa Heemskerk battled it out and dominated the field in Italy.

Sunday morning, the sailors woke up to a balmy 39 degree temperature, but a solid 12-15 knots of wind, with gusts over 20. Some of the people who camped cooled off enough to pack it up and go home. Eighteen men who either thought they could still win something, or just didn’t care, layered up and braved the cold, heading out to a very shifty and gusty Lake Lanier. The sun was bright and it turned out to not be too bad out there at all.

The foiler’s speed really began to show, as Bailey White took the bullet in race one and Pete Levesque took race two. Pete was sailing the latest and greatest technology with boomless deck sweeper sail that was air freighted to Atlanta on Wednesday from Steve Brewin. Pete was fearless on Sunday and flew faster and higher than anybody else, going full airborne and unfortunately downwind while flying around the leeward mark.

Bailey had a new sailed tramp from Bach Wilson but hadn’t gotten the deck sweeper sail and Woods curved boom together yet. His regular Brewin was still fast though even though he now had to borrow an aluminum straight boom. The top 3 in the two Sunday races consisted of 5 foilers and only one floater. The always fashion conscious Jeff Meyers, in what looked like floating BMX motorcycle gear, deserves a call out as a DNA C board sailor who maintained a commanding 3rd place in breeze on the last race ahead of most foilers.

Lastly, Ryan Boyle deserves the sportsmanship award for repairing his Marstrom after a collision on the first race knocked his port rudder off. The RC gave him redress for average points for his missed races on Saturday even though we had no protests for the regatta.

Overall results
1st Bailey White 1, 2, 3, 1, 2 – JZ board eXploder foiler – total after throwout – 6
2nd Randy Smyth 7, 1, 2, 6, 11 – 16 – C board Bimare floater
3rd Nigel Pitt 4, 3, 4, 27, 6 – 17 – C board DNA floater
4th Mike Krantz 5, 14, 1, 3, 9 – 18 – C board Flyer II floater with eXploder foiling rudders (one is now at the bottom of the lake after hitting a log at 18 knots)
5th Chris Bolton 2, 6, 5, 15, 10 – 23 – Morelli and Melvin designed A2 straight board floater!!!

Top five foilers
1st Bailey White
2nd Larry Woods
3rd Matt Keenan
4th Peter Levesque
5th Joseph Bello

Top five floaters
1st Randy Smyth
2nd Nigel Pitt
3rd Mike Krantz
4th Chris Bolton
5th Ben Hall

Full results… click here.

Nigel Pitt deserves special mention as he has found a harness that hooks on and then lets go after being on the wire for a few seconds on both race days. The bonus with this harness is that you get to keep getting new tiller extensions too. None of the rest of us are looking for this feature though as we don’t carry three tillers and Nigel was mentioning something about a locking carabineer next time!

The weekend brought together an array of boats, both old and new. There were plenty of familiar faces and yet several new young guys arrived. In fact, we had more new faces at this regatta than we have had in a long time. Too many to mention to be honest but a few deserve comment.

Matt Keenan was ripping around in the air on a boat he got hooked on from Mark Skeels. Mark loaned his boat out to Matt to foil it without Matt having ever sailed the A before. He was sold. Ian Schillebeeckx from Missouri who Scott Stevenson recruited by buying a boat to bring to his home club before he knew Ian would buy it. Bill Vining loaned his boat to Richard Stephens, and Richard showed he can not only play with shipping containers but can put some serious speed down in the EVO II with a dominant start and upwind on the second race of day 1. I think Richard is hooked. Mac Mccallum who got the A after sailing the F16. Boyd Jordan who has probably the prettiest mast in the whole fleet, brings some serious tattoo cred to the A, and is capable of making most anything for his boat. Greg Rubin who now feels like the only bad thing about the A is that he didn’t discover it sooner. Brett Robinson who was loaned an eXploder from 16 year old owner Chris McCaffrey. Bach Wilson who is a new canvas and sailmaking shop owner in Greenville SC making new stuff for the A and is getting more and more into the boat and even put on long pants on Sunday.

The A class has shown that it can endure any test that comes its way. Both floater and foiler can sail together in harmony, yet scoring the types separately and then together overall proved to be the most simplistic way to keep everyone happy. Good friends, good fun and good sailing, regardless of the type of daggerboard you put down the hole. The class is stronger than ever and this event will only grow.

Report by Andrew Woods with ghost writer el Presidente

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