Attrition Continues at A Class North Americans

Published on September 14th, 2016

Newport, RI (September 14, 2016) – The third day of the 2016 Zhik A Class North American Championship completed three races for those among the initial 45-boat fleet that have yet to succumb to gear failure.

Reigning North American Champion Matt Struble’s streak of all firsts was broken today, though his 1-2-2 still puts him at the top of the Foiling Division and Overall results. Past North American Champion Lars Guck dominated the day with a 2-1-1 to close the margin behind Struble to three points. Bora Gulari, who entered the day in third, exited the day with a broken mast. Matthew Keenan is now in third. Leading the Classic (non-foiling) Division and sitting in sixth Overall is Ken Marshack.

Racing on Narragansett Bay is planned for September 12 to 15.

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Report from A Class Facebook page:
The morning greeted us with warmer temperatures and a puffy southerly, whistling through the rigging. There were a variety of sources saying the wind would be over 20 knots, so we met with the class leaders, called New York Yacht Club, confirmed that Potter Cove was available; and had a plan.

We started the competitor meeting with a quick recap of Tuesday, and made sportsmanship award presentations to Bill Vining (assisted Todd Woods) and Mark Herendeen (pulled Ben Hall from the water and returned him to his boat) for their efforts on Tuesday. This also explains the RDG scores.

We then announced our plan at the meeting that we’d go to Potter Cove, South of Gould Island (closer for safety) and only run two races.

Upon arriving at Potter Cove, the wind had decreased to 8-10 knots, from a very solid 210 direction. We set up at 1.0 NM, with a Course 6 (three laps), as that was the only way to get close to the 45 minute target time given our constraints (Pell Newport Bridge, small point on Jamestown shoreline near the tollbooths).

With Bailey (plus 9 others) remaining on the beach, and Steve Clark launching late due to a broken tiller, we flew the warning on time at noon for Race 5. After an all clear start, Steve arrived about two minutes late and set to work passing boats.

During this race, we received a report of a turtled and dismasted boat near the Navy War College on the eastern shore. The safety RIB and Everglades boats immediately jumped into search and rescue mode. Within moments, they found Bora and his damaged boat, in the shipping lane.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, along comes commercial traffic (a tug and barge) during the cleanup attempt. We spoke to the tug captain and made him aware, while we slowly nudged Bora’s boat towards the shoreline. After getting the boat situated, we offered him an anchor, but he elected to grab a lobster pot buoy until we could get a tow out to him (anchoring damaged boats was planned before the regatta, and announced at the skippers meeting).

Meanwhile, the leaders finished in 43 minutes, greeted by L over C, and a board reading “2 More Races” as the wind wasn’t too bad, attrition was quite low, and Thursday’s wind forecast was not great. Overnight and Wednesday morning, the fleet had reiterated that they want nine races (to get two throwouts) if at all possible.

For Race 6, we dropped the weather marks down to 0.9 NM, same bearing and course, and had an all clear start at 1320. The wind piped up to about 15 knots, and the leaders finished in 36 minutes. Lars Guck won this race, ending Matt Struble’s perfect run of bullets.

Race 7 started at 1435, with a buoy replacing the pin boat after a stubborn anchor refused to be retrieved. Another all clear start, in 16-18 knots of wind, again Course 6 at 210 and 0.9 NM. A small right-hand shift appeared during this start, and Lars started late, at the signal boat, and climbed right over the fleet.

Tons more drama in Race 7, including another cargo ship, this one much larger and faster than the tug and barge. I spoke with the captain, making him aware that the sailors know he has right-of-way, but noted that they are single-handed and fast, and recommended that he sound horns to alert them of his presence. He agreed, and offered to hug the eastern side of the passage and center span of the bridge (we were tucked in just to the west of the channel).

Bailey’s bad luck continued, and his boom broke just before the ship arrived. Lars would ultimately go on to win Race 7, finishing in just under 37 minutes. The last boat finished in 52 minutes, and all were safely ashore by 1610.

Sailors quickly battened down their boats, as a brief thunderstorm arrived about 90 minutes later, as the annual meeting was underway.

The start time is moved forward to 1100 on Thursday, due to the wind forecast, which returns to northerly but lighter. We will once again sail in Potter Cove.

With 7 races in, we now officially have a regatta and a first throwout. Two more to go for a second throwout. The points are extremely close, so it all rides on tomorrow’s success!

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