Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 J24 World's: 2 Views of Final Day

I imagine the Montreal entries are nearing the home port of HYC just about now. I haven't any news of their adventure. However, since I've enjoyed the daily summaries of two competitors so much, I have opted to post their entries again, this time of the last day of racing. It was a dramatic one with the podium positions changing in each of the three races, and Canadian Rossi Milev being at the top of the heap after race #1. Above is pictured the winner, Brazilian Mauricio Santa Cruz. I first saw it on Sailing Anarchy. They suggest clicking for the magnified version to observe the helmsman's concentration. Great reminder, the eyes can stray to what are other crew members' responsibilities. Pic is another by Dan Phelps. Reports below by my favoured scribes, Chuck Allen of North OD for Scuttlebutt and Moose McClintock for Sailing Anarchy. Each of their teams consistently chose different starting strategies, and both were more positive about the regatta after a better final day.

Chuck Allen
North Sails One Design

What a Change - Three Races in One day!

(Friday, May 9, 20090 - It was smart of The R/C to go out early on the final day because it was looking grim for breeze in the forecast. So we met at the rendezvous of R2 off Bay Ridge and for the first time they had the fleet follow them south towards Thomas Point Light versus heading north towards the Bay Bridge, which has been light and weird. Sure enough we stopped for a while and watched The Cougar Treat Team try to wakeboard behind their J/24 - they forgot two important things: put a smaller guy in the water and get a bigger engine… fun to watch though! Sure enough… hints of a breeze started to fill in around 165 degrees. The R/C moved a touch more away from the lighthouse and things looked good for two to three races in a breeze of 4-8 knots, basically two guys hiking and our “low setting on the rig” conditions.

Race one was big time middle boat favored as Carrera, Kotoun, and Welles all started in that region. The current had the middle boat poked at least a length up and we figured winning the right side … this boat would be key as you get that quick jump on the fleet. You had to start your approach with no more than 1:20 to go as the boat had to keep digging back into the current and up and then back into the current and up, etc… and if you timed it right you could shoot out like a cannon. Both Carrera and Welles led the way playing the right center, while Kotoun faded a bit on the left center - both boats were one and two up top and then the sailing ‘downwind against the current game’ started, quite difficult as we would find out. It was noticeable that the ARG and CHI Teams were quite practiced at sailing in these real light conditions downwind, as we found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of them. Chris Larson showed nice pace as well in these conditions to finish towards the top. The bottom line was you can round the weather mark and kept going straight into the current and almost one tacked it towards the gates…the boats that did this made out nicely.

Race two was much of the same - the boats that won the right side of the middle boat made out huge! Carrera and Kotoun once again got launched. TMC Racing came out of that area looking sharp as well and these three rounded in the top group. A few boats got out of the left like Larson, Rossi and Mauricio - all boats that were contending for the title. Kotoun and Carrera would lead the charge around the four leg track in the light conditions.

There was time to get one last race in as the 1430 time limit was still a half hour away. We were thinking we were kind of locked in with Mookie and Kotoun for the 5th, 6th or 7th position and the boats battling for the top had to be Larson, Santa Cruz, Carrera, and Rossi. The R/C boats were not as poked or leaning forward in the current and it became very apparent the breeze was starting to show major ESE Signs. You had to start toward the pin or you were done! Santa Cruz, Parker, Welles would all lead this side toward the first mark, it was a five legger that they posted by the way. You could actually gybe back toward the middle if need be this time around but for the most part staying on starboard was your best bet. The whole game was staying to the left side upwind and the top group had little change. Santa Cruz would go on to dominate the race and win just slightly over Larson as Rossi (who had a tough race-falling to forth). Carrera had a killer day but fell just short, placing third overall - nice job. Kotoun held fifth, Welles would end of sixth, while Mookie had tough race and fell to seventh - still a great job for the young J/24 Team. Congrats to Mauricio and Team… great regatta!



J/24 Worlds wrap up by Moose Mclintock from Dimension/Polyant.

Whenever I watch an NBA game, the common line is "everyone makes a run". We made our run, but just like the trailing NBA team, we came up a little short, maybe using a little too much mental and emotional energy to get into a position to win. We knew coming into the last day the we needed to make up points in a hurry, we were around 6th with a drop figured, this wasn't going to win anything. On the motor out we stopped by the downtown Starbucks for some of our lucky Apple Fritters, had a good munch on the way to the course and talked about what we had to do. Basically, get good starts, manage our area and don't make mental mistakes. Nice plan if you can do it, I'm pretty sure no one else was thinking this.

When we got to the starting area we were met with, as usual, no wind, the forecast was saying a clear sky might lead to an early sea breeze so we held our breath and hoped. The RC moved the course down to the Thomas Point area (which might have been a better option all week anyhow) and were soon rewarded with a slowly filling southerly. With plans to get in as many races as possible, the RC hustled to get the line set, gave us a black flag to try to tame the beast, and we were off. Notable BFD's were the Threebond and Blitz, both boats were players but this took them out of the series. We chose the leeward end as it would take us into the outgoing current quickly, a good plan but a slight clock in the breeze had us looking at mid fleet halfway up the leg. Though we did get some tide push, we were looking average coming out of the corner. Somehow, with a little wiggling near the weather mark, we were able to close on the group and rounded in the top ten. There were plenty of ups and downs with everyone but we were able to claw our way up the ladder a bit and grab a 3rd and viola, we're tied for the lead with Rossi Milev. Sort of a shock after the whole week but we'd take it.

Second race was almost identical for us, start near the pin, see a right clock and fighting our way back from the left side. And a gain, with a lot of wiggling near the weather mark, a fair weather mark rounding right behind Rossi. The long downwind legs against the current made the nerves stand on end, we gained a couple boats but were still looking at low teens as we started the second beat right behind Rossi. We split away from him at the leeward mark and were able to catch a small shift that got us just ahead of him, Bruschetta was going very fast and we barely crossed them at the weather mark. Up front, the Argentine Matias Pereira, who was 2nd in the first race, was leading and suddenly we were thinking we were losing our lead. Fortunately, Bruschetta, Rossi and ourselves split away from the fleet and caught a new breeze out of the current and passed about 8 boats on the way to the finish, surprisingly we had another 3rd just ahead of Bruschetta and Rossi and the total scores were looking particularly tight, mostly because there was a litany of protests and I flags being reported. We now had a couple points on both Bruschetta and Rossi with Pereira, who won the race, lurking a little bit behind.

Our plan for the final race was the same, start at the pin end and figure it out. But just like that NBA team, I think we ran out of gas. A big header as we tried to get to the leeward end left us unable to get to the line, we tacked and dipped a couple boats and suddenly had popped out with clear air and sailing the lift but going right. Ordinarily this is good news but we weren't in the current and the breeze was on the left where we saw both Bruschetta and Pereira on the Carrera leading the fleet while we were looking at mid 30's (but ahead of Rossi, who also got flushed with us). Again, we got into the comeback mode but this time it wasn't going to work, though our deltas were going up at every mark, we just couldn't get back to the leaders and we faded to 2nd overall, just holding off Pereira while watching Bruschetta take the title. Nuts.

Lots of credit has to go the Mauricio Santa Cruz and his crew on Bruschetta, they were always fast, and made excellent decisions around the course when they were doing badly to make instant comebacks. You don't become a 3 time World Champion by being anything other than this so our hats are off to them, truly the best in the world. We were happy but not satisfied with our final placing, we were a bit rusty but Dave Hughes, Steve Frazier (aka Junior Bear Cub), Curtis Florence and particularly Chris Larson, who put the program together, were one of the most enthusiastic and fun groups I've done this with and though we came up short I think we did a pretty good job. The RC had a brutal week of weather to deal with, they did their best but were handcuffed by a lot of circumstances that were out of their control. Fortunately, the final day of clear weather and good sailing in the open waters was far better than anything we'd seen all week so I have to believe everyone was pretty happy with final day. I didn't stick around for the awards, I'm at home as I write this to do the things that I should be doing, helping my wife do everything that I've blown off for the last two weeks. Congrats again to Bruschetta, they were favorites coming in and they delivered.