Sunday, February 28, 2010

Etchells Jaguar Seriers – Florida State Championship Final

By Paige Brooks, Etchells Class North America Correspondent

The third in a series of four race weekends of the Etchells Jaguar Series is now a wrap, leaving triumphant victories and devastating losses. Tony Rey, sailing for George Andreadis on Etchells 1368 sailed on the water like a gold medal figure skater: gaining points with every turn and making the whole competition look like a cinch. With a 7,1,1, 2, DNF Rey, sailing with Bill Bennett and Chris Busch, didn’t have to finish his last race after his closest competitor, Bill Hardesty, missed the first shift on the upwind beat. A bit of a risk, but it paid off for Rey, as long as Hardesty didn’t claw back for the win. Unfortunately for Bill, it didn’t play out that way: he had insult added to injury when he got into a collision at the finish line, earning a ding on his bow. “Nothing I can’t fix myself,” he said resolutely.

The Florida State Championship is also a run for a trophy among the local fleet members. Saturday’s race 2 ended part-time resident Bryon Erhart’s run for his second Florida State trophy, when he fouled Scott Piper, of Coconut Grove, at the top mark, putting a game-ending hole in his own boat. Ultimately, it was George Andreadis, another part-time local, who won the sought-after trophy.

Overall the racing conditions made for superior competition. According to PRO Dave Brennan, Saturday’s race was “fantastic big consistent breeze.” It started at 15 knots from the south and built over the course of the day to 20 knots. The consistent direction made for tight, close finishes and crowded mark roundings.
From Chris Bush, sailing on the winning 1368: For the first start –there was a - pile up at the leeward end and a lot of boats, including us, were over early and several boats were late to go back. We heard our number and were able to get around the pin fast on the leeward end. After that they were right back in it – a 7th place made for our best race considering how we started.

“On the runs it was better to be kind of East (the wind was from the South)- on a starboard jibe – we did better by not jibing right away. That's what got us into the lead on the 2nd race – Billy (Hardesty) was ahead and a bunch of guys jibed. We found more pressure and actually laid the mark by staying on starboard. We rounded the right gate looking downwind and Billy went the other way. We were right there together again at the top mark - and then were just a little bit faster downwind. We found Saturday that if we stayed outside a bit on starboard and a late jibe really worked for us. “

From Tony Rey: “For the practice race George skippered and got us warmed up nicely.” As to what he attributes to their speed: “We've refined the rig tune and we're much more confident in making our changes now. “

Sunday’s racing was a bit trickier, opening with a 15-knot breeze from the North West then shifting and laying down during the 2nd race. Hardesty won the first race of the day before the wind lightened up. The shifty breeze and more current made for a few false starts in Race 2, causing Brennan to hoist up the black flag for the final race. “Suddenly, everyone knew where the starting line was,” he said and the race got off all clear. Jud Smith, sailing with Dirk Kneulman, Jud’s daughter, Darby and her friend Tim, won the last race.

Next up is the Etchells Midwinters at the end of March, with some interesting competition for the Series trophy – several teams are very close in series points: Hardesty 4; Siegal, 5; Beckman, 5; Rey / Andreadis, 6; Vessella, 6; and Smith / Kuneulman 7.

Top teams for the weekend:
1. George Anreadis, Tony Rey, Bill Bennett, Chris Bush
2. Jud Smith, Dirk Kneulman, Darby Smith, Tim King
3. Jeffrey Siegal, Jeff Madrigali, Becky Nygren, Willem Van Waay,
4. Peter Vessella, John Callahan, Tracey Usher
5. Michael Gavin / Bill Abbott, Ed Fury, Peter Nye