Monday, March 2, 2009

Dirk Kneulman, Jud Smith win the Jaguar Cup

Hank Lammens and Dirk Kneulman

Jennifer Wilson, Vince Brun, Bill Hardesty, Eric Shampain
By Paige Brooks, North American Etchells Class Correspondent

Biscayne Bay really showed it’s stuff to the sailors coming down to Miami from their winter wonderlands this weekend. Warm days and variant conditions took the sailors through their paces in the final weekend of the Etchells Jaguar Series.

Friday’s weather saw 12-15 knots throughout the day, and it was partly cloudy and gorgeous, to boot. The RC set up their windward and leeward gates and got off three great races with 55 boats on the line. There were a few scary moments for Cape Cod sailor and boatwright Karl Anderson, who fell in the water in the midst of a crowded leeward gate rounding. Fortunately, the boats nearby were able to avoid him and is crewmate wrangled him back in to continue sailing.

The challenging conditions proved skilled crew work was tantamount as no one team got more than one bullet this weekend.

Saturday’s conditions were out of the southeast and started about 10 knots and dropped throughout the day. After two races, PRO Dave Brennan couldn’t see any more potential breeze and called the day. Even after the slow going the fleet had in the light breeze, professional sailor Tony Rey said this is his favorite sailing all year, due to the fantastic competition and tricky conditions.

Sunday morning Bill Hardesty and his team who had only one bullet in their quiver, were race leaders by five points over Tom Lihan with his crew of Moose McClintock and Flip Wehrheim. In the windy first race, Hardesty finished 3 points ahead of Lihan and in the final race got a 13th in a tight row of downwind boats, making it hard to call onboard, but ultimately they took the regatta by one point. Hardesty said they “had a tough start and had to fight back from the twenties” to get that.

Local sailor Chris Lanza sailing with Anson Mulder and Mike Danish won that last race and said , “We really go faster in the big breeze and worked the boat hard up and down wind to finally cross Bryon Ehrhart near the finish.” Then with a sideways smile, said he “was glad to make it up to page 2 of the standings. As Scott Piper said on Friday after getting his bullet, the winners of these races have to “gloat when the gloating’s good.”

The Jaguar Series is comprised of four regatta weekends and teams also compete for the Jaguar Cup, which allows for one dropped weekend. Jud Smith, Dirk Kneulman, and Hank Lammens co-skippered the boat with a total of 8 different crew rotating through the boat over the winter. Though Smith (in Australia this weekend) thought Lammens would have his “mojo” on in the light stuff, it was the heavy air that proved successful for the crew of Hank and Mark Lammens, sailing with Kneulman. Third overall for the weekend meant they held their first place position for the series and will take home the Jaguar Cup. Dirk Kneulman, a Canadian Etchells builder, said “the recipe this weekend was chicken wings and beer every night.” Going into today he called is wife and said, “the dream is over, “ but according to him, “like a fruit salad, you never know what’s going to come to the top.”

Many of the competitors commented on the tough competition the Jaguar Series brings, thus the winners of the series, Dirk Knuelman, Jud Smith, Hank Lammens and the rest of their crew, as well as Bill Hardesty, Vince Brun, Eric Shampain, and Jennifer Wilson earned a heart felt applause at the trophy giving. Congratulations.