505 North Americans: Pupil Beats Master

Published on June 5th, 2016

by Craig Thompson, USA 8854
It’s hard to fully understand the allure of the 505 class without being present at our premiere event of the season. The combination of tight racing, camaraderie among competitors, and a world class regatta organization and venue all made this year’s North American Championship one of the best in recent memory.

Fifty teams battled for the title on June 2-5, with the event hosted by Bellingham Yacht Club (Bellingham, WA) and the newly minted Fleet 35 of the 505 Class.

As anticipated, the margins between rounding a first weather mark in the top five or being middle of the pack were razor thin. It took a full combination of speed, strategy and tactics to be part of the top group. Those who thought 505 racing was simply a drag race were proven wrong over the course of the series.

Ten races were sailed over the course of 4 days, with the breeze being significantly better than originally forecasted. The scenery of snowcapped mountains surrounding the race course made a perfect backdrop for the beauty of fifty 505’s blasting around the race course.

At the end of the Championship, Riley Gibbs and Reeve Dunne emerged as the 2016 North American Champions. Riley and Reeve delivered an outstanding performance at the 2015 NA’s (Annapolis, MD), finishing 5th at Riley’s first ever 505 regatta. A year later, the young team have taken home the hardware and upsetting Howie Hamlin’s bid to win the North American title three years in a row.

But Howie only has himself to blame. Riley is his protégé.

Riley and Reeve sailed an amazing series and were the only team to finish every race, including their two discards, in the top 10. In many races, the pair found themselves further back in the fleet, but were always able to sail their way into the top. And their success is rooted in Hamlin’s “Team Tuesday” training sessions in Long Beach, CA.

Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to sail in two of the Team Tuesday practices while traveling to the Los Angeles area for work. After experiencing it for myself, it is no surprise why the Team Tuesday group took the top two spots and three of the top ten.

The practices are simple in design: meet at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club at around 4 PM, rig boats and launch at 5:05 PM, sail short windward leeward races consecutively alternating line-up starts on port and on starboard, and finally race to the weather mark and back in around dusk.

Although simple, the quality and efficiency of these sessions is like nothing else I have experienced in this class. The Team Tuesday practices are entirely made possible by Howie Hamlin’s generosity and commitment to the 505 Class. On any given night, Howie will have four of his 505’s out on the water.

Howie Hamlin, sailing with Jeff Nelson at this year’s event, put the pressure his young pupil right up until the final race. Howie and Jeff sailed a very consistent series, but two races outside of the top ten to end the series locked them in to the runner-up spot this year.

Tyler Moore and Rob Woelfel finished in third place this year, rounding out the top three. This performance was particularly impressive considering they were sailing a chartered boat, and were doing significant repairs and re-rigging work throughout the course of the event.

To give you an understanding of the work scope, Saturday night was the only night since last Tuesday where they did not require the use of epoxy. These guys sailed fast and smart despite the distraction of keeping their boat operable.

The wife and husband team of Carol and Carl Buchan were the top local finisher, making the short trip north from Seattle. While they won the NA’s in 1985, they have not competed in this event in many years and it was great to have them back on the water. Carol was the top female competitor this year, ahead of Jen Glass who finished a very strong 11th sailing with her husband Ben.

It is great to have these talented women racing in our class; it is a testament to the gender, age and size diversity that is represented throughout the fleet.

The growth of the local Bellingham fleet is impressive and is a true testament to their organizational efforts and the allure of the class. They did an outstanding job putting on this event and have set the bar high for future years. Principal Race Officer John Pedlow and his team ran great races in a challenging mix of conditions.

Most importantly, the state of the 505 class is strong. With the 2017 North Americans next June in New Bedford, MA and the 2017 Worlds next September in Annapolis, MD, now is an amazing time to get involved in this exciting class. The fleet as something to offer for everyone; whether you are a weekend warrior or a world title contender, sailing 505’s is an absolute blast.

Final Results (Top 10 of 50; 10 races, 2 discards)
1. Riley Gibbs/ Reeve Dunne, 2, 4, 2, 9*, 1, 2, 4, 5, 5, 9*, 25
2. Howard Hamlin/ Jeff Nelson, 9, 3, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 4, 10* , 11*, 28
3. Tyler Moore/ Rob Woelfel, 10*, 2, 11*, 4, 5, 1, 3, 2, 6, 10, 33
4. Mike Martin/ Adam Lowry, 1, 1, 9, 11, 18*, 6, 1, 1, 9, 14*, 39
5. Mike Holt/ Carl Smit, 4, 6, 6, 1, 8*, 7, 6, 3, 14*, 7, 40
6. Carol Buchan/ Carl Buchan, 6, 16*, 5, 7, 4, 11, 12*, 11, 2, 2, 48
7. Mark Zagol/ Drew Buttner, 5, 12, 4, 6, 6, 4, 5, 13*, 15*, 8, 50
8. Dalton Bergan/ Fritz Lanzinger, 8, 7, 7, 12*, 10, 10, 8, 6, 25*, 3, 59
9. Kevin Taugher/ Stu Park, 12*, 5, 12, 10, 7, 5, 11, 7, 19*, 5, 62
10. JB Turney/ Tommy Fink, 7, 10, 10, 8, 9, 8, 16*, 16, 3, 35*, 71

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