The first Masters drew 7 boats, whose only requirement was that the Skipper be 50 years old or older. The same qualifications are in effect to this day.
With the passage of time the average fleet has increased in number, in age, and in the nations represented by the contestants. This, however, is a regatta based on Star Class principals of good friends racing together and nationalities don’t enter into it one bit. This year there were 8 nationalities there and an astounding 49 participants.
Whereas the skippers ranged in age from 50 to 88 the crews, and there were both male and female crews, covered a much wider range.
Coral Reef and its PRO Rich Raymond gave us three light to medium air races over two days. Two counted as, unfortunately, one was abandoned three quarters of the way through.
Race 1 was started under a black flag after several attempts to get it off smoothly.Ten boats were identified as being over and we were off. The breeze of about 7 kts. was from the Southeast generally but pressures were greater for those who went left on the first beat.
The course was windward-leeward twice around and on the second beat the right seemed to pay. The race was won by Joe Bainton and his regular Master’s crew Peter Bromby from Bermuda. Second went to Larry Whipple of Seattle with Olympic hopeful crew Mark Strube up front. San Francisco’s Steve Gould and his brother took third.
Race 2 got away with only one OCS and here both sides of the course were about the same. Breeze was 9 kts and direction fairly steady from the SE. Here the left side looked awfully good to us but when we got to the mark in 18th place, coming in on port, we found the guys who had stayed right again were up front. Some who played the middle were also successful.
Not many changes (at least from our vantage point) going downwind and Rich Raymond had two in the bag by being patient and waiting for the sea breeze to come in.
Saturday night’s party was a bang up affair that lasted, so we were told, till 3 AM. Among the features was a large screen TV showing of Howie and Tiffany Shieblers wedding the week before. Food and drink were plentiful. Silver Medalist at Savannah, Hans Wallin of Sweden showed up as did Luis Bustelo from Argentina and a few other non-contestants.
Sunday showed a glassy Biscayne Bay but Rich told us to get out there. There was way down the bay as the Yingling trials were being run in the middle as well as a BBYRA regatta.
The sea breeze came in at about noon. We got away with only one boat OCS and again we played the left which was good. We arrived at the windward mark right with Larry Whipple, John Sherwood, Joe Bainton, and another boat. We sailed the middle downwind and rounded fifth. Going back up we held left and, when we finally spotted the mark had overstood by a good bit as had the other top boats. We reached off with Larry Whipple going over us and were going to be second at the replaced mark when the race was abandoned.
It should be noted that the Super Seniors, i.e. those over 80, fielded more contestants than even the Exalted Grand Masters (70-80 years). Great regatta and we feel the ZAG will keep on growing.
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