Thursday, February 26, 2009

Etchells Sailors prepare for Mid-Winters East

Photos by John Payne - Click for Web Site
By Paige Brooks, North American Etchells Class Correspondent:
Thursday, 26 February 2009, Miami: Once again, many of the sailing luminaries will be heading down to Miami for the Etchells Jaguar Series and some will stay on for Miami Race Week and the Barcardi Cup, which follow in quick succession. The Etchells Midwinters Regatta is both an independent regatta and the final weekend of the series held here on Biscayne Bay. The racers in the series are watching the weather, figuring what sails to check in, and monitoring their weight (max weight is ~ 628 lbs) as they prepare for the three-day racing weekend. Late February, or early March, when the regatta is held, is usually breezy, but the forecast this weekend is for lighter air, which could make it feel a little like Los Vegas.

Not new to the top standings for the series, Jud Smith, who has been racing with Dirk Kneulman, will be heading to Melbourne to tune up for the Etchells Worlds. Hank Lammens will shake off the cobwebs and take over the helm for the weekend with Dirk and Hank’s brother Mark Lammens. Bruce Golison, lying in second for the series will sail with Steve Ericson and Steve Flam, who, like Hank, hasn’t been to Miami this winter. In third for the series, Bill Hardesty, who came on strong after missing the first regatta, will be sailing with his same crew of Vince Brun, Eric Shampain and Jennifer Wilson.

As the teams assemble in Miami, the organizers are already getting their share of weigh-in questions. Some want to know what type of scale they’ll be using, others, how it will be calibrated, and still others, exactly how early and often they can weigh in before the first gun. No one-design sailor will be surprised to see a few folks running the streets of Coconut Grove in foulies Thursday morning, hoping to sweat off the last few pounds.

With light wind forecast for the weekend, the racing will surely be tricky for all of the competitors. Will they just roll the dice to figure out which way to go? Jud Smith thinks it could be anyone’s game. He first said when Hank Lammens “has his mojo on [in the light breeze] he is good.” After thinking about it, he hedged his bets and said Hardesty, of course with his same team, or Golison who is “really good in the light stuff” could come out ahead. With one drop allowed, it’s worth a look deeper into the standings as you lay your bets for the winner.

The coaches, relegated to the sidelines during the event, will be interested to hear that the class will be giving Kattack tracking devices to all of the competitors. Shortly after racing each day those mid-fleet finishers who wonder what happened and where the leaders went, will be able to review the races over adult beverages at the club with their competitors. It should make for interesting bar talk.

For those of you interested in watching how these competitors navigate the light breeze in good old-fashioned fleet racing (sans lawyers), you can virtually watch using the Kattack web player at

Race results and standings are here: