Pearson Potts wins 2020 Oakcliff International
Published on August 30th, 2020
Seven teams competed in the 2020 Oakcliff International on August 28-30 in Oyster Bay, NY. Held in Oakcliff Sailing’s Match 40, this was the only scheduled Grade 2 match racing event to be sailed in the U.S. since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
The event, which had a double round before knockouts, was won by 23rd ranked match racer Pearson Potts and his team. Long-time Oakcliff match racer Chris Poole and his crew, including Oakcliff technical specialist Cat Chimney, came in second place, while newcomer Ruari Finnegan came third.
Host Oakcliff Sailing came as close to the Grade 2 requirements as possible taking into account the ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions. The event had two international skippers – Oakcliff staff member Andres Guerra representing Spain and Ruari Finnegan representing Ireland – along with a wide breadth of talent that had 37 skipper points from the last posted rankings.
Six of those points belonged to Doug Shannon (4 points) and Jim McNally (2 points) who both got their match racing start at Oakcliff and whose participation in this regatta helped qualify it for a Grade 2.
“We came into it just trying to figure out the boat, there’s a big learning curve but it was very fun,” said third place finisher Ruari Finnegan. “We work together really well, so it was mostly just talking to each other and figuring out what to do.”
Racers encountered all conditions over the three days, from light winds on Friday to the remnants of Hurricane Laura on Sunday that brought breeze in the high teens gusting 25. “We felt better and better throughout the weekend,” said Lucas Adams, Pearson Potts’ main trimmer. “Big breeze comes down to crew work a lot of the time.”
Racing came down to the wire during the first-to-three finals as Poole and Potts battled it out for first place. Both skippers earned two points, meaning the winner was decided by the fifth and final match.
The two teams were neck-and-neck until the leeward gate rounding where Potts luffed Poole up and forced him to tack off to the unfavored side of the course. When they converged near the weather mark, Potts had the lead and held it until the finish line.
“Pearson loves to take opportunities in the moment and it paid off [at the leeward gate rounding],” said Adams. “Our crew work was superb so we were confident going into tough tactical situations knowing we had a good chance of coming out on top after the chaos and that’s what happened in our final match with Poole.”
Contributing volunteers for the event included TJ Shea, Patrice Rachlin, Todd Field, Larry Kennedy, Roger Baker, George Ellis, Priscilla Constants, Ron Stattle, John Pratt, Steven Wolff, Eric Johnson, and Mike Quaglio.
Source: Oakcliff Sailing