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Martin and Lowry win 505 North American Champs

Published on August 25th, 2019

Competitors from the UK, Australia and Spain joined the boats from the US and Canada to bring a fleet of 39 505s to the Kingston Yacht Club in Ontario for the 2019 International 505 Class North American Championship, August 22-25. Ten races were completed before crowning the North American Champs, Mike Martin and Adam Lowry (USA). Howard Hamlin (USA) and Russ Clark (GBR) finished second followed by Mike Holt and Carl Smit (USA) in third.

Sailors who showed up early for the Canadian Championships sailed as part of the CORK Olympic class regatta, were treated to tricky conditions on the water. After 5 races world champions Mike Martin and Adam Lowry won the event 2 points ahead of Howie Hamlin and Russ Clark. Ethan Bixby and Chris Brady won the last race to cement a 3rd place finish at the Canadians.

After a debrief where all the winners explained their boat setup and tactics, competitors had three days to prepare their boats and practice for the upcoming North Americans.

Before the racing started, the fleet prepared their boats, while the leaders from the Canadians provided measurements and advice. Everyone’s boat was laid down on its side so that critical measurements could be made and the top of the fleet explained the rigging tricks that make the 505 fast and fun to sail.

For the practice race, Kingston delivered a classic sunny 12-14 knots and the competitors stretched their legs and finished final preparations for the main event. After a few practice starts the fleet sailed a quick two lap race and returned to the club for a much appreciated reception, with food, drinks and time to catch up with old friends.

Racing started with blue skies and cotton-puff seabreeze clouds but with the wind confusingly coming out of the northeast instead of the west. A small taste of the westerly filled as the fleet left the docks, but soon it was back to the east.

Every boat seemed to have a hero to zero moment or vice versa as the fleet battled through immense shifts and glassy spots up to the windward mark. Mike Holt and Carl Smit managed to hold on to their lead around the course, although there was some nail biting action on the last run when the water glassed off and stranded the front pack distressingly far from the last puff of the leg. Jackson McCoy and Alex Tong ripped in to take second in their Hamlin 505 (hull 7095) leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Hamlins still have plenty of life left in them.

After a short postponement to let the seabreeze fill in, the fleet sailed two shifty races in a 7 knot westerly. Left was the place to be until the right filled for the second beat of race, which didn’t phase current world champions Mike Martin and Adam Lowry or stop them from adding another bullet to their scorecard.

Race 7 of the series was claimed by Parker Shinn and Eric Anderson, which secured them the title of most improved boat of the day, having retired from Race 5 after destroying a spinnaker and getting stuck on the wrong side of a shift in Race 6.

The next day ominously started with cloud cover and faint hope for a classic thermal. The fleet set out anyways in time for the 1130 start in a very shifty, very puffy easterly. It’s never like this here. After a few failed attempts at getting a race going, with 45 degree shifts wreaking havoc, the fleet managed to get racing, finishing two legs under conditions the race committee wisely deemed too fluky, so the race was abandoned at the first leeward mark.

After a lengthy delay featuring continued light and shifty conditions the wind finally started to settle in a bit and the fleet managed to get thee races off thanks to the heroic efforts of the race committee. The tricky tactical conditions mixed up the race winners a bit, and put a premium on getting good starts and latching into the first big shift, getting buried on the start often left no way out. Wiley veteran and local legend Jeff Boyd managed to figure out the conditions for his first bullet of the series in race one of the day.

Another Canadian dream team of Robert Tennant sailing with (honorary Canadian) Steve Bourdow won the second race handily by crossing the fleet soon after the start, before Mike and Adam got back to their winning ways in race 3 as the rabbit. By the third race the breeze was starting to get into the mid teens, and teams that were wire running in the “alternative” mode of having the crew high on the wire and crouched seemed to be able to make gains.

Three decent races after a frustrating morning, a bit of shuffling in the middle of the pecking order, and one race was scheduled for the next day.

After a postponement ashore racing on the last day of the series was abandoned as the sun beat down and the breeze faltered. The prize giving was held on the waterfront lead by event organizer Jeff Boyd with recognition given to the small army of volunteers who made this event a true success.

The 39 boat fleet was challenged by mixed conditions and tight racing on the fresh water of Lake Ontario. With 4 of the current top 5 boats in the world competing, the battle for the podium places was always destined to be tough, however the whole fleet enjoyed tight racing with plenty of opportunity for place swapping and overtaking.

“The standard is the highest we have seen at a North American’s,” said 2019 World Champion Mike Martin who acknowledged the younger members of the fleet in recognition of the wide appeal of the 505 to the sailors across the age range.

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Source: International 505 Class

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