Navigating through the restrictions

Published on May 18th, 2020

Sailboat racing is about dealing with variables, and despite health guidelines now to limit the COVID-19 spread, event formats can safely navigate through the restrictions. This is occurring on New York’s Long Island Sound as 20 entrants signed up for an informal “pick-up” race on May 16 organized by Adam Loory. Here’s his report:

To observe social distancing, all boats were doublehanded. There was no race committee, no trophies, and no party, but there was a lot of fun as sailors pushed their boats as best as possible considering that most boats are rigged for full-crewed racing.

While the weather was beautiful for sun-bathing, it was a little difficult for sailing. An all-too-common mid-summer weather pattern made sailing challenging. A light northerly was in a battle to the death with a southerly sea breeze. Neither won, but both made their scant presence known at times.

Third place finisher Richard du Moulin called the conditions, “About as ‘Long Island Sound’ as it could be, but at least it was fun racing in close proximity with friends, except PHANTOM, which missed all the fun and won by a mile!”

To sail without a race committee, the pursuit format was used. The slowest boat in the fleet started first and rest of the boats started later based on how much time they owed the slowest boat. This way, the finish order is the results. Burke Anvari and Wes Bemus sailing the XP44 PHANTOM horizon-jobbed the fleet, even though they started second to last.

With a scratch sheet having start times for a long, medium and short course (click here), I announce on the radio which course we are sailing and everyone can then see their starting time. Given the conditions, the call was for the short, 9.25nm course.

The race started with 8-12 knots out of the N-NE, and then did exactly what the weather forecast called for – it died. Most of the fleet set off on a close reach heading straight at the one turning mark a little over four miles away, but soon the boats on the rhumbline got headed and then the wind died.

For PHANTOM, they held high on the first leg to stay in the northerly as long as possible, and then on the long spinnaker reach back to the finish, they kept their chute full in the southerly, then in the northerly and finally to the finish in a southwesterly. It worked!

As for the rest of the fleet, the wind died away for nearly an hour just as the boats were reaching the turning mark at Matinecock Point. PHANTOM got smaller and smaller as the fleet struggled to change sails, jibe and tack multiple times to eke out some forward progress; some jibed to the north and others worked their way south.

For a while, each looked good, until they weren’t. Rich Gold who sailed his New York 36 TURNING POINT said, “This race was tougher than the last one.” He was referring to last week’s race when we sailed in 18-24 knots of wind, with higher gusts. In that race, TURNING POINT did a jibe-broach that broke their pole.

Second place went to and Vadim Sablinsky and Nick Nilsen sailing the Figaro 2 GROUP 5 which arrived from France a week before the race. GROUP 5 is a standard Figaro 2, just like the ten boats being used by the Collegiate Offshore Sailing Circuit.

GROUP 5 is the first Figaro 2 owned by the Northeast Keel Boat Alliance, whose purpose is to promote youth offshore sailing. Leo Vasiliev, one of the coaches for the Northeast Keel Boat Alliance, said, “We are only considering doublehanded racing for the foreseeable future. Having the charity component is the ‘cherry on top’ of this well-organized series.”

“The generosity of the sailors who donated to the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Food Pantry has been great,” said Rich du Moulin, who with Chris Reyling finished third on du Moulin’s Express 37 LORA ANN. “I just got a call from the Director of the Pantry, Malcolm Frouman, who thanked us all. This past week they fed over 700 families in our community. Please continue to donate; there are a lot of hurting families out there.”

Results – Doublehanded Social Distancing Distance Race
1. Phantom, XP44
2. Group 5, Figaro 2
3. Lora Ann, Express 37
4. Soulmates, Custom 40
5. One Too Many, J/88
6. Ripple, Beneteau Plateau 25
7. Southern Cross, Frers 33
8. Turning Point, New York 36
9. Loblolly, Sunfast 3600
10. Thin Man, J/99
Note: The Marten 49 Summer Storm crossed the finish line seconds ahead of One Too Many, but was not scored since she sailed with three.

Rascal, Delher 38
Rowan, Delher 38
Charlotte, Ben. First 36.7
Atalanta, J/42
Guardian J, J/109
Wild One, Hanse 455

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