Viper and VX One Wintering in Sarasota
Published on January 20th, 2020
The seventh annual pilgrimage of Viper 640 and VX One sailors continued in Sarasota, Florida for the Winter Series, January 18-19, 2020.
In the Viper 640 fleet, eight races were sailed over two days, 15 boats raced in the second of the series. After some aggressive starting practice, the fleet was able to begin racing in earnest. Four races were completed in a forecasted right trending and fading breeze of Day 1.
The big tactical questions were when the shift would happen and whether there would be any breeze afterward. Each race had a different winner, and the very close racing meant, at the end of day one, the scores were tight for the top spots. Race wins on day one went to Jonathan Nye (Greenwich, CT), Peter Beardsley (Brooklyn, NY), Jackson Benvenutti (New Orleans, LA), and Mary Ewenson (Annapolis, MD).
For the Vipers, Day 2 dawned early with a planned start time of 10 AM. The windy start to the previous day was a memory, and the fleet sailed out in seven knots. The RC started race five in a southerly breeze, and once again there was another race winner. Tom Loutrel (Charleston, SC) found his form, and after a tough first day, was back in the groove to take the win.
Race six for the Vipers started under a U flag, which seemed to work well and kept the fleet in check. The breeze was building, and the lanes of pressure were the key to finding the front end of the fleet on the downwind legs. The passing lanes were not easy to spot as the puffs rolled in from the cut. Race six was taken by yet other boat; Mark Zagol (Stonington, CT) and his team took advantage of some good speed and better tactics to hold off the charging fleet.
By the time race seven started, the breeze had built to the point where most of the Vipers had gone up significantly in rig tune, and the vang was being pulled on hard to go upwind. After the U Flag caught a couple of boats over, the fleet was blessed with ideal Viper conditions. 13-15 knots of wind and carpet flat water with the shifts rolling off the shore off Long Boat Key made the course wide open with boats arriving at the top mark from both sides of the beat. In the end, race seven was won by Mary Ewenson who took her second race win of the regatta.
Race eight, the final race of the weekend, was a marathon five-leg course for the Viper fleet. Once again, the premium of getting off the line in a clean lane and being able to go fast to the first shift was the key to having the race come together. As mentioned, Tom Loutrel had come back on form and was going very well with his new sails (still waiting for the new boat that goes with them). He and his team took advantage of a slight speed edge and played conservatively to shepherd the competitors into an orderly race and, ultimately, was able to take his second win of the weekend.
Rachel and Peter Beardsley and Simon Karstof Jensonf won a tie-breaker with Jackson Benvenutti, Jesse Fielding and Jan Majer to take first place for the weekend. Winning the tie-breaker for third place were Mary and Geoff Ewenson and Mark Wheeler over Mark Zagol and his team. Only three points separated the top four boats, and in any given race only three minutes separated first and last place.
Overall for the series in the Viper fleet, Jackson Benvenutti remains on top of the series leaderboard with Mark Zagol in second, nine points behind.
Seven races were sailed in the VX One fleet with 36 teams entered during the second event of the series. Hayden Bennett won the weekend event with 9 points, 10 points ahead of Amy Kleinschrodt.
The VX One Winter series includes the December, January, February, and March Sarasota Sailing Squadron regattas and will be scored using high point scoring. Participation in 67% of races is required to qualify for the Winter Series.
NOTE: Both classes inexplicably use the same results link throughout the series so what is provided now will change after the next event.
2019-20 Sarasota Viper/VX One Winter Series
Dec. 14-15, 2019
Jan. 18-19, 2020
Feb. 8-9, 2020
Mar. 20-22, 2020 (VX One fleet only)
Source: Edward R. Padin