Next Level Fandom in Nantucket

Published on August 23rd, 2018

It’s a common refrain how sailing is one of the few sports where you can compete even up with the best of the best. Just enter the race and get alongside your idol. But what about having them on your boat? That’s next level fandom which happens annually amid the dune-backed beaches and the cobblestoned streets of Nantucket.

Skipper Henry Brauer of Eastern Yacht Club (Marblehead, MA) with tactician Geoff Ewenson of Annapolis, Maryland led Team Rascal to a convincing win in the 2018 Nantucket Race Week IOD Celebrity Invitational Regatta. Their ace crew included Steve Madeira (Bay Area and Northeast Harbor, ME), Karl Anderson (Harwich, MA) and Orrin Starr (Block Island, NY).

Among innumerable regattas around the globe, and throughout the year, no other event is like the IOD Celebrity Invitational. Racing is at the highest level seen locally, but it’s also an important fundraiser benefiting Nantucket Community Sailing (NCS). Fourteen elite sailors, most but not all professionals, donate their time and talent to give back to their sport.

Each of these Celebrity Tacticians is assigned to a team that enters for the opportunity to race an International One Design (IOD) sloop with and against expertise from the top of the game – world and national champions, Olympians, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans as well as Rolex Yachtsmen/Women of the Year winners. The competition comprises best six out of seven races over two days, August (16-17) on Nantucket Sound.

Brauer/Ewenson and company pulled off an improbable rout, finishing fourteen points ahead of the battle for second place. Runner up skipper Stuart Hebb (New York Yacht Club) with tactician Victor Diaz de Leon and Team Thin Ice won a tie-breaker, edging out Jamie Hilton (New York Yacht Club) and tactician Tom Lihan with Team Scoundrels. Jim Cunningham with tactician Luke Lawrence and Ted Moore with tactician Ed Adams rounded out the top five.

Team Rascal’s margin of victory is all the more impressive considering the strength and depth of the fleet.

Four prior winners of the event were competing, including last year’s winning skipper Richard Werdiger (GHYC), with accomplished tactician Moose McClintock and a seasoned crew. Three time prior winner Jim Bishop sailed with two former IOD world champions aboard – tactician Jonathan Farrar and crew Elliot Wislar. Twice prior winner Heather Gregg had former Olympian and Snipe class champion Peter Commette calling tactics. Back-to-back 2016-17 winning tactician Jud Smith called the shots for accomplished local skipper, Peter McCausland (NYC).

The fleet was challenged by a variety of conditions over the two days on Nantucket Sound, with their preparation courtesy of Nantucket Yacht Club’s Professional Race Officer Eric Robbins who ran three practice starts for the fleet the day prior to racing.

On game day, a light south southwest breeze had crews huddled in hulls and sails loose, chasing shifts and changing trim as weather varied across the course. The wind wavered to the left, but gradually continued build from the right, increasing from six to thirteen knots during the day. Brauer/Ewenson’s team displayed remarkable consistency with 3 firsts and a third place. Ted Moore/Ed Adams’ crew followed with a pair of seconds and a pair of fourth places, one point ahead of Jim Cunningham/Luke Lawrence and crew.

The following day dawned with lighter air from the west. While much of the fleet changed positions race by race, and during each race, Sandy Adzick (Nantucket YC) and tactician Geoff Becker hit their stride to lead Team Hot Ticket to top honors for the day, finishing all three races in second place.

Brauer/Ewenson’s Team Rascal never flinched, racking up two more wins and a “discard” sixth. The wind failed to build as it had a day earlier, hovering around 10 knots. Nevertheless, sailors had a legitimate test, as reflected by the comments of many competitors along with many compliments for PRO Robbins’ team’s race execution.

The Celebrity Regatta helps underwrite the many programs of NCS, including learn-to-sail for all ages, and the Nantucket High School sailing program. Moreover, the regatta is a marquis event of Nantucket Race Week, fostering other fundraising and sponsorship initiatives. The fleet of identical International One Design sloops is owned by the Nantucket IOD Fleet Association, whose members make the boats available to support NCS.

While the regatta benefits NCS, it also showcases Nantucket Island hospitality. Great Harbor Yacht Club and Nantucket Yacht Club provide the onshore venue and race management resources. Local hosts open their homes for visiting sailors, and many other Nantucketers volunteer time to support the cause.

Complete results… click here.

Source: Christopher W Gould

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