|District 20 Regatta Report|| |
Mon Jan 23rd, 2006 through Fri Jan 27th, 2006
Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau, 2006 MOCR Winners, Photo by Dan Nerney
| Complete results for the top 10 in the Medal Race are posted below. Rohart/Rambeau are the MOCR champions, followed by Horton/Nichol and Szabo/Monroe. |
Photos by Jan Walker can be found at RegattaActive Images. Reports below are by Andy Horton and Brad Nichol
Day 5: The top 10 boats after the first four days of racing were separated from the other 60 to sail a final "medal race" on Friday. The medal race is a new change to the Olympic format that will make debut in Beijing and regatta organizers have incorporated it into recent events. This was only the second time it had ever been used and the first time ever in the Western Hemisphere. The final race counts double for everyone's scores (so a first place finish is worth two points, a second place finish is four points and so on), and it cannot be discarded from anyone's scores. As any change is, there was some controversy surrounding the new system and some concern about how it would change the racing.
While we knew we had to do well and put several boats between us and the second place team, our gameplan was to try to sail a clean race and not lock up into a two-boat race unless the situation naturally presented itself. It was windier than it had been all week, with a gusty, shifty northeaster that was at least twenty knots. The course was also shorter than the previous races to compact the fleet (in fact, the final race only took 36 minutes, whereas the others were at least 90 minutes). We did not see a situation to push our closest competitors over the starting line early so we began to sail our own race. After the start there was a large left shift. We wanted to tack but were pinned by Phillipe Presti and Jean-Philippe Saliou on our windward hip. Up the course, other boats began to tack on each other furiously. The tone was set and we no one wanted to give an inch. In fact, the boats who were able to avoid the rest of the fleet began to separate from the pack of disturbed air and constant tacking. John Dane and Austin Sperry began to extend on the right side of the beat and we tried to follow their lead.
We rounded the windward mark in fourth and were immediately able to calculate our position in the regatta due to the smaller size of the fleet. This was a pleasant benefit and made the racing very interesting for us and the sizeable fleet of spectator boats who came out to see the action. Every decision became ultratactical. We gained a place on the run and tacked around the leeward mark out to the left side of the beat where we found better pressure and a favorable shift. We gained another place to move into second around the third mark and were able to hold that position into the finish. The second place team of George Szabo and Eric Monroe finished ninth, allowing us to move into second place in the final standings.
At the awards ceremony, we were awarded silver medals for our efforts. While we were unable to defend our 2005 OCR title we were the top American team again and combined with our second place finish at the 2005 Pacific Coast Championships, we were named the #1 ranked team on the US Sailing Team in the Star class for the second consecutive year.
Day 4:: This was the last day of regular competition at the MORC As we sailed out of the harbor, we expected light and shifty winds from the NNE at 6-8 knots. By the time we started the first race, we were battling 16-18 knots of breeze, significant directional swings, and plenty of chop. This made for two VERY challenging races. We concentrated on sailing clean, keeping the boat and mast upright, and sticking with the top of the fleet. Once again the racing was close with seconds separating the boats in the top of the fleet.
We posted two 13th places today, putting us in third place for the series. The French team posted a pair of single digit finishes and have statistically won the regatta. Szabo/Monroe won the first race and were 17th in the second race and are in second.
The "medal race" is a new change to the Olympic format. The final race is sailed by only the top 10 boats after the first 9 races (with one discard). Tomorrow we will square off in this high-stakes race on a short course against Rohart (FRA), Szabo (USA), Loof (SWE), Presti (FRA), Pepper (NZL), Dane (USA), Kusznierewicz (POL), MacDonald (CAN), and Reynolds (USA). The scoring is changed in this medal round, with this race counting for double in the final score. Additionally, the score from this race cannot be discarded. We are honored to be in the company of all these Olympic medallists, world champions, and hemisphere champs.
We're expecting a strong breeze tomorrow (25 knots NE). Rohart and Rambeau have won the Star class mathematically heading into the final race with a 48-point lead. We are only 6 points out of 2nd place, so anything is possible.
Day 3: Wow, what a long day! Three races in a shifty northerly breeze takes a lot out of you. We sailed conservatively, knowing that the northerly breeze would provide plenty of passing lanes all day. We wanted to be patient since we think we are somewhat stronger in shiftier winds -- if two guys from the northern lakes are good at anything, it is hitting shifts. We were fast and smart in the first two races (with a touch of luck), finishing 4th and 6th. In the third race, we showed good speed most of the way around the track but ended up on the wrong side of a shift at the end, finishing 23rd.
We had good starts a third of the way down from the boat. We had good speed and led the fleet to the first mark in the first race. On the final legs, we sailed up the middle of the course as the fleet split sides. Three boats who gambled and won passed us and we finished fourth overall. In the second race, we would have made it to the first mark in second place but decided to duck several starboard tackers at the weather mark on the port tack layline. The fleet was tight all race and we finished sixth amongst a big pack down wind.
In the final race the wind became patchy -- lulls as low as 10 knots and gusts around 20 knots. The puffy breeze shifted through 30 degrees and the final shift on the final beat was a 60 degree righty. We were all over the place trying to stay in phase but got caught on the left in the final right shift and dropped a dozen boats. Ah well, sometimes you miss one!
In these conditions it is tough to consume enough food and water. It is even more difficult to keep your body and mind focused for three races in windy conditions. We apologize for not writing more, but our brains have stopped functioning.
We are now in second overall with finishes of 2, 25, 2, 19, 4, 6, 23. This puts us in second place overall, and we are the top American team with three races to go. If our finishes seem erratic, consider this: only one team (George Szabo and Eric Monroe) have finished in the top TWENTY in every race.
Day 2: Day two of the OCR was a test in concentration and patience with two races run in difficult conditions. The race committee postponed the fleet on shore until the sea breeze filled in around 10:30 AM. Still, there wasn't much wind.
The light air in the first race tested racing fundamentals: set the boat up well, hit the starting line with speed, tack on the first shift, and focus all the way around the race course. And it worked. We hit that first shift and were in perfect shape to take the lead and hold it all the way around the race course. At the very end of the race we got caught in a bad set of power boat waves, and with the wind so light and the fleet so talented, thatís all it takes to lose one boat at the finish line, which unfortunately we did. Still, we were very happy to post a second place in these tough conditions.
The second race proved to be a bit more challenging. Yesterday there were twenty boats over the line, though the race committee only penalized the dozen they could see, making the temptation to push the line that much greater, though the risk/reward tradeoff has been difficult to judge. Being conservative sometimes makes clear air and a good lane more difficult to find on the first beat, and we may have erred too far on the safe side in the second start.
We sailed a good beat the first time up, but got caught in a tight fleet just shy of the layline. With that much bad air we rounded mid fleet (thatís about 35th). It is amazing how tight all the mark roundings are and how easy it is to drop 10 boats in 30 seconds. A good run and a great last beat allowed us to finish 19th on the three leg course.
Day 1: The weather this morning was perfect -- crisp breeze and not a cloud in the sky. It was perfect Miami weather, and a lot of people decided to enjoy it with us - 70 are in the Star class.
Whether it was nerves or just a crowded launching area we're not certain, but the day began inauspiciously for us as we were hit by some of our competitors on the way to the race course. Later we broke a cleat on the main sheet. While we were fixing it with one of the spares provided by Harken, we ran aground. Thankfully we shook it all off before the start of the first race. We decided to be a bit conservative by not being too aggressive on the starting line, not sailing out to any corners and not pushing the kinetic limits downwind since there are judges on the water.
We started the first race one third of the way down from the windward end and after two quick tacks we found a lane. We worked the middle of the course and rounded the top mark in tenth. As the densely packed fleet worked downwind, we decided to gybe onto port at the first opportunity. We gained several boats on the run and rounded the leeward mark in fourth. Upwind, the right side seemed strong, so we followed the big clouds and the wind they traditionally bring up the right side to round the weather mark in third. On the last leg, we continued to sail fast and finished the race second overall, trailing only current world champion Xavier Rohart from France.
Between races, the wind lightened and after the first general recall it was light enough that most of the crews were up on deck. We had a good start but the Japanese team on our windward hip was quick enough to prevent us from clearing our air on the right side of the course. We didn't feel fast and spent too much time looking around the boat to figure out why which made matters worse. The traditional weather pattern had inverted and there was less wind near the clouds this time, but we sailed for the clouds anyway. Once we got caught in the middle of the fleet it was hard to find clear air, and we were only able to manage a 25th place finish.
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