USF Bulls win Kennedy Cup ICSA Big Boat National Championship
Published on November 6th, 2016
Ten teams were on hand at the US Naval Academy to contest the 2016 Kennedy Cup Championship aboard the Academy’s fleet of Navy 44 sloops on November 5-6 in Annapolis, MD.
On Saturday, as forecast, a 5-8 knot westerly filled in and PRO Paul Clissold and his NASS race committee crew set up their course and got racing underway on time. Three teams jumped the gun and were called OCS on the first start but USF got off clean near the favored boat end and jumped out to a big lead which they continued to build on through the race to win convincingly. Cal Maritime rounded the weather mark 4th but came on strong to climb up to second. Michigan also sailed well to take 3rd.
Soon after the first race finished, the wind backed around to the south, building a bit in the process, and the tide began to ebb. Somewhat predictably, race 2 got underway with two boats called OCS with many others very close. Cal led Navy at the first mark and held their lead the rest of the way. Navy held second while Coast Guard came on to take 3rd. Mass and USF tangled near the finish with Mass being protested and suffering a DSQ.
For the third race, the breeze built a little more and the current increased in velocity. Again, a couple of OCS boats were called but most of the fleet started clean. Cal Maritime won the left and capitalized to lead at the first mark. Navy was close behind in second but was not able to close the gap. USF stayed in the hunt throughout the race and posted a third not far behind Navy.
Late in the day, a sequence was started for race 4 but soon after, the southerly died and the original gradient westerly filled back in. With the sun getting low, PRO Clissold opted to send the fleet home rather than wait for the new breeze to settle.
At the end of the day, Cal Maritime leads with 4 points. Navy and USF end the day tied for second with 8 points each.
On Sunday, Annapolis was true to form for November racing with a solid northwesterly breeze greeting the sailors as they arrived for the final day of sailing at the 2016 Kennedy Cup.
PRO Paul Clissold and his NASS RC team the first race of the day started on schedule in 16-20 knots of wind. All but Cal and Navy opted for their #3 jibs leaving them as the only boats with genoas. With Cal leading Navy coming into the day they held Navy well beyond the port layline giving the fleet to the right the advantage. Charleston nailed the right and led wire to wire for the win. Cal rounded mark 1 mid fleet while Navy was deep.
Both teams battled furiously to get back in the race with Navy managing to get back to 5th. Cal had sail handling problems and dropped to ninth. USF posted a second to take the regatta lead while Navy found themselves tied with Cal.
For the next race, the wind solidified in the high teens with gusts over twenty. This time, everyone sailed with #3 jibs. One boat was OCS at the start and the fleet split pretty evenly right and left. The right paid with Cal leading at the first mark. Navy was a close second and Charleston recovered from a deep start to round 3rd. At the bottom, Navy had a better takedown on the left turn and passed Cal. Charleston opted for the clear lane right turn to stay close.
Navy extended right covering Cal while Charleston managed to pass Cal too. Navy continued to extend to take the win while Charleston took second. SUNY Maritime found their mojo to finish third but lost a protest and were disqualified. Cal also lost a protest earning a disqualification as well which moved USF up to 3rd.
Going into the final race, standings prior to any protest hearings had USF tied for the lead with Navy and Cal 5 points back, and a surging Charleston just one point behind them.
The last race was a five leg thriller with 4 teams apparently in contention for the championship. Charleston again showed great speed and led the pack at mark 1 and held their lead the rest of the way around. USF and Navy both badly botched their spinnaker takedowns opening the door wide for Cal and Charleston. After putting their respective fires out, both teams rallied but USF recovered faster and rounded the second weather mark 4th while Navy was in 7th.
On the second run, Navy managed to close the gap but was still back while USF held their position. Up the last beat, Navy clawed their way back to fourth but could not overtake USF. Navy also took an I flag for an incident earlier in the race effectively dashing their hopes for victory. Charleston won the race with Cal finishing second.
After the protest dust settled ashore, the University of South Florida wins this year’s Kennedy Cup. Navy held on for second, one point ahead of Charleston who finished third.
The USF Bulls have qualified to represent the USA in the Student Yachting World Cup next year.
Report by Event Media, Jahn Tihansky