Schmitt dominates Sunfish Masters

Published on March 10th, 2021

Tampa, FL (March 10, 2021) – After 11 races over three days, Eugene Schmitt stood at the top of the podium after having turned in a nothing-but-epic performance to win the 2021 Sunfish International Masters Championship for sailors 40 years of age and older.

Schmitt placed second in the first and fifth races and won the other nine, with his 11-point total putting him out of touch as the others fought for the remaining podium spots. In second, with 33 points, was Doug Kaukeinen followed by Mike Ingham with 41 points. In fourth with 43 points and always in the hunt was Rich Chapman who is also President of the International Sunfish Class Association.

Sailed out of Davis Island Yacht Club on Tampa Bay, the breeze was sporty for much of the three days ranging from 15-25 on the first day and then moderating to the 12-20 knot range for the later two. Given that this was a Masters event, there were some Great Great Masters (and youngers) for whom sailing 11 races in this breeze was quite a workout.

“There were big breezes with big shifts throughout the regatta, but, overall, both sides of the course proved to be even,” observed Schmitt. “It wasn’t a matter of banging one side and being lucky, but rather the difference was playing the shifts and having good speed. I found I had competitive speed in the lighter breezes, but when it was over 18, I found I had a gear that was just a click faster than everyone else’s.”

And, as with any 50+ boat fleet, getting a good start is critical to getting a good finish.

“There was plenty of space on the line,” said Schmitt. “On the first two days, the line was even, and I started at the boat because there was no pin-end line sight landmark on the Bay. I didn’t want to be caught over and have to work my way back through dozens of boats to restart.

“Today, with the wind direction more to the east, there were buildings in Tampa I could use for line sights and I was able to do mid-line starts letting me pick my side.

“I wasn’t sure which side would come in, and the first shift was always big. I knew I’d be at right at least 50% of the time! In fact, in two of the races today, I went pretty much up the middle working some shifts punching through the middle of the course and won those races.”

When asked about his competitors, he went on to say, “Doug Kaukeinen was pretty even speed wise, but I was able to get off the line cleaner; and Mike Ingham was tough to hold off in the light air due to his weight advantage.

“Mike, relatively new to the Sunfish after having won many majors in other classes, sailed a great regatta. Tactically, he sailed well, keeping the boat going fast. In every race there was at least one big three-minute ‘grind-out’ puff, and although lighter, he could hang with Doug and me upwind. Rich Chapman kept us all honest with his good speed and tactics. I had to stay on my toes all the time to pull off this win.”

Local sailor Gail Heausler (a Grand Master) was the top woman and finished sixth overall behind her fellow DIYC member Dan Norton in fifth.

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The Masters were held March 8-10 followed by US Team Race Championship on March 11 and the US Nationals on March 12-14.

Source: Buttons Padin

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