Last weekend's 76th Annual National Championship was a great time for the "elite group" of 13 boats who were self-selected to compete for the big trophy.
Racing was postponed on shore Friday while we waited for the sea breeze, which filled in in time for us to log one light air race on Friday. Jamie Brohan made a triumphant return to the class with Ed Cassidy in #724 by leading the fleet around the first weather mark of the first race. The PRSA fleet made a strong opening statement with Bill Carnell and Lars Florio edging past #724 at the finish to take 4th, with 724 in 5th and 727 getting the bullet. Friday night's dinner was fantastic (all-you-can-eat grilled flank steak), but very "intimate", even after inviting all of the RC to attend (who actually outnumbered competitors at this event by 2). Charlie McCoy delivered on his pledge of recreating and authentic "town-car" bar in the upstairs room at the club, but there was no traditional class meeting for lack of quorum, but not lack of booze or good company. When Fish Bay folks asked us where all the sailors were, we told them that in the Hampton Class we have to divide the parties into separate Gold, Silver, and Bronze fleets at separate undisclosed locations because there were so many revelers
Saturday's racing was held in classic sea breeze conditions of 8-14 kts out of the SSE in open water. The RC took us all the way outside, to the east of Stove Point, well beyond where the Annual One Design races have traditionally been held, and knocked out 3 full-length nearly 6-mile race-a-thons. Gordon Wolcott put Perrin "The Lever" Priest to work on the wire and schooled 727, and her light-air-optimized team to win race 1. In fact, 727's crew's feet did not reach the floor boards which made tacking tricky until that was sorted out with a little practice. 727 began working out the boat handling issues in Saturday's second race, while 715 slipped to 4th with the rest of the NY&CC Club rounding out the top 3. 727 again lead the pack around all the marks only to miss a 20 degree shift at the finish, grossly over standing the finish pin, and let 715 slip past to guarantee a Sunday showdown with 715. Bill and Lars blew out the main halyard in race 3 and Leigh and Dave had a previously scheduled baby feeding that took them out of race 4.
Sunday's "big breeze" 20kt frontal breeze rumor fizzled at sun-up, but the RC was able to get off two races in marginal conditions and was able to finish both by shortening course appropriately. In Race #5, 715 flushed 727 at the start of race 5 to insure that the final race would decide the championship. 715 was over early in the mix at the start of race 6, and 727 managed to close the deal. Leigh and Dave Chapman, were actually the fastest boat on water Sunday, with new sails and raised boom, 718 is officially back-in-business at the front of the fleet. Coupled with consistent finishes on Saturday, Leigh and Dave pulled down a podium finish even after skipping one race.
Ware River and Fishing Bay were once again well represented by the two newest members of the fleet. Joe Morgan teamed up with the FBYC Laser Fleet captain, Jon Deutsch, and continued to keep pace with the veteran sailors, even while having to bail 412 constantly around the course. Mike and Aidan Toms also showed fantastic bursts of speed and were always in the thick of it at the finish-line and won the 2010 Hurst Trophy, which will be proudly displayed at FBYC (as soon as someone coughs it up!). Bryant McGann teamed up with Ian Twinn, and it was great to see him out on the wire, he has clearly been hiding out in the gym while away from one-design racing.
Chris and Jeff Harrell also made a big return to the class, bringing three generations of HOD sailors on their Contender, and a full entourage to cheer folks on at the finish line. Bobby Harrell served as the finish line boat, and Bob Harrell Sr. was at the Awards ceremony, and ageless. Meanwhile Chris Harrell got the opportunity to introduce his Fiancée' to an important family tradition before they tie the knot.
The bottom line is that the folks that came had a great time, and are fired up to finish off the season strong, with a number of great regattas on the schedule, including NY&CC's Labor Day regatta (two separate events Saturday and Sunday) and the PRSA President's Cup September 11-12, which a number of folks are planning to attend.