Andy Beadsworth wins Etchells Midwinters
Published on February 28th, 2016
The fourth and final event of the 2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series attracted 56 teams for the Midwinter Championship on February 26-28 in Miami, FL. Hosted by Etchells Fleet 20 and the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, the 7 race series was won by Andy Beadsworth with Finn Hill and Simon Fry. Topping the 19-boat Corinthian fleet was Craig Mense with Fred Strammer, John Harford, and Nicole Popp.
Report by John Payne…
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, several teams had a legitimate shot at the overall series crown.
On Friday, the chamber of commerce was back in charge of the weather. Clear skies, temperatures in the mid-sixties and a nice northerly breeze of 12-14 knots greeted the sailors on Biscayne Bay. Friday’s first race began with a course 4 (four legs) that was set with a bearing of 350 degrees and a length of the first beat of 1.7 miles.
On the first upwind a big righty came in, favoring those on that side of the course. First to the top mark was Tony Rey sailing George Andreadis’s EFYRA 3. He was closely followed by Tom Carruthers on Elizabeth and Lorne Liebel on Cruel Jane in second and third respectively.
The second upwind saw a big pay out on the left side and scrambled the order at the top of the fleet. Peter Duncan on Raging Rooster with Jud Smith and Tom Blackwell rounded first. They held that lead to the finish followed by Moretn Henriksen on Rebel Rebel and Jay Cross on Skanky Greene.
Race 2 started with a bearing of 335 degrees and a distance of 1.6 miles. As the race progressed the winds built into the 14-16 knot range. Once again the left side paid big with Andy Beadsworth on Tquila leading a group in from that side. He was followed by Allan Liebel on RAIN and Argyle Campbell on USA 1375.
Andy Beadsworth and his crew of Finn Hill and Simon Fry led wire to wire to take the horn. Sliding into second was Don Jesberg on Viva. Reigning world champions, Jon McClean, Skip Dieball and Jeff Eiber finished a strong third after a disappointing 50 in the first race.
By the third race start, the breeze was up to 15 knots in the gusts. PRO Stuart Childerly called for a course five (5 legs) at a bearing of 330.
With the trend of the wind going left all day, it was no surprise that the left side paid again on the first two upwinds. The race ultimately went to Steve Benjamin and his crew of Michael Menninger, George Peet, and Ian Liberty. Morten Henriksen, Jim Gibson, and John Millen finished second, and Tony Rey, Chris Cantrick, and Phil Trinter finished third.
At the end of the first day, Morten Henriksen was in the lead based on a score line of 2-4-2. When asked about having such a nice day, he said, “We had good starts and were able to get to the first shift in clear air.” He continued, “That’s really important in this amazing fleet.” As for the third race, Morten said, “We started at the pin and that was not looking good. Then a huge lift came in and we just rode it to the mark.”
Second place and third place belonged to Steve Benjamin and Tony Rey, respectively.
Day two was looking to be a weather repeat of Friday with very similar conditions. Race four began with a heading of 330 degrees, a distance of 1.5 miles in 10-12 knots.
Skip Dieball and Jon McClean jumped out to a huge lead on the first upwind, rounding 55 seconds ahead of Steve Benjamin. Class president Gary Gilbert with the Lawrence brothers, Luke and Eric, rounded third. Skip and Steve held on to first and second wire to wire with Dirk Kneulman on Tiburon moving into third.
Jon McClean commented, “Skip found a big hole in the starting line and we were at full speed at ‘go’. We had good boat speed and were able to tack when we wanted to, in clear air.”
By race five, the wind had begun to fade. After two general recalls and numerous postponements, the race committee finally got a race started under the black flag. After an all clear start, the fleet began slogging their way to the weather mark set at 320 degrees and a distance of 1.5 miles. Alas, it was not meant to be, by the time the fleet was about one-third of the way upwind, it became obvious that the wind was not going to cooperate so PRO Childerly hoisted the November flag. Shortly thereafter, he threw in the towel and sent the fleet back to shore for the day.
On the strength of their second in race four, Steve Benjamin moved into the overall lead. Morten Henriksen and Tony Rey were second and third respectively.
Steve Benjamin weighed in on the conditions. “It was remarkably shifty with super flat water. The water conditions dictate the rig tuning, so we were set up pretty well.”
Back on shore, regatta host Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, put out a nice buffet and free keg of beer for the competitors, who enjoyed some great comradery under the sea grape trees.
It was decided to get a one-hour earlier start on Sunday in an attempt to get in three races. When the sailors arrived Sunday morning they found little or no breeze. Despite that, Commanders, the official weather forecaster for the series, was calling for an easterly wind in the 10-15 knot range by 0900. And just like that, by 0900 the race committee was seeing 12 knots from 085 degrees.
Race five went off at a bearing of 085 degrees and a distance of 1.7 miles. By the time the fleet reached the weather mark, the breeze had filled in to 15 knots with some gusts over 17. The leaders again came in from the left side, led by Morten Henricksen and Dirk Kneulman in first and second. Those two battled the entire race with Kneulman making a beautiful last second gybe at the finish to take the horn. Charles Kenahan on Mahalo took third.
The sixth race (second of the day) started with a bearing of 095 and a distance of 1.6 miles, in 12 knots. Andy Beadsworth took the win followed by Charles Kenahan and Craig Mense in second and third respectively.
Race seven started at a bearing of 100 degrees and a distance of 1.5 miles. The wind was still a pretty consistent 12 knots. First to the top was Andy Beadsworth. Close on his heels was Dirk Kneulman who unfortunately failed to hear their number hailed for an OCS. They were followed by Lorne Liebel. Beadsworth wound up leading the whole way with Steve Benjamin pulling into second, followed by Lorne Liebel in third.
Winning the Midwinter Championship, with a total of 39 points, were Andy Beadsworth, Finn Hill, and Simon Fry.
Andy stressed how important good starts were in this fleet. Despite a Sunday score line of 5-1-1, he was most proud of race three on Friday where they were over early and climbed back to finish 15th. He said, “The talent in this fleet is so great, that making up ground after a mistake like that is really difficult. Just getting back to the top 20 after an OCS was very satisfying.”
Finishing second was Steve Benjamin sailing with Michael Menninger, George Peet, and Ian Liberty. Steve said, “We made some mistakes at the starts of races five and six. We bumped a boat in race fie and had to take a 360, and we were over for the start of six so we gybed around the end.” He continued, “But I am really proud of these guys. They are new to the boat since worlds last summer, and we are working very hard on tuning and getting our communication down.”
Third place went to Morten Henriksen and his crew of Jim Gibson and John Millen. Fourth went to Peter Duncan and his long time crew of former Etchells world champion Jud Smith and Tom Blackwell.
Peter commented after racing, “The conditions were really tricky this weekend, and it was tough to get off the line.” He continued, “The race committee did a really good job and we’re just lucky they keep asking us back.”
Shannon Bush, sailing with Brad Boston and Curt Oetking finished third. She said, “After those first two races on Friday we came back kicking and screaming and clawing. It’s tough to sail here with the wind off the land because it’s all about angles, and those can change minute to minute.” She continued, “We were much more in tune today as a crew.”
Everyone, when asked about the conditions, commented on how tricky they were, and the scoring backed up their assertions. Beadsworth in first, even with three bullets, still averaged 6.5 for the six races scored after the throwout.
Winning the overall Etchells Biscayne Bay Series was Steve Benjamin on the strength of two wins in the first three regattas of the series, and a second in the Midwinter Championship. He was followed by Andy Beads worth in second and Shannon Bush in third.
Shannon was also awarded the newly created Dr. Steve Horowitz Memorial award for most improved team.
Next up for many, the Coral Reef Cup.
To qualify for the overall Etchells Biscayne Bay Series (formerly known as “The Jaguar Cup”) prizes, 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).
2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series
Louis Piana Cup Regatta – December 5 & 6, 2015
Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta – January 9 & 10, 2016
Florida State Championship – February 6 & 7, 2016
Mid-Winter’s East Regatta – February 26 -28, 2016