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Plas Menai 2015

J/70 Youth Championship at Newport - Day 1

by J/Boats Inc on 12 Aug

For the first day of the inaugural U.S. J/70 Youth Championship in Newport, RI, hosted by SAIL NEWPORT, the morning dawned cool and foggy, with a low-lying mist blanketing Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. At the 0900 hrs morning skipper's meeting, the regatta PRO Kevin Dooley felt it was prudent to postpone on half-hour intervals until the fog lifted and the southerly breeze would, invariably, fill in and permit a full slate of racing for the day. None of the nine youth teams from across the country complained, recognizing everyone wanted the best and fairest possible racing to win a free J/70 for their sailing club!

By 1100 hours, the AP was dropped and racing commenced for the day on the famous short-course race-track between Goat Island and Rose Island, just outside of Newport Harbor. The first race started in 5-6 kts winds from the south/southwest, very streaky, and very much influenced by a building ebb tide. Plus, a monstrous white cruise ship was anchored right in the middle of the eastern passage of Narraganset Bay, just outside the Newport Harbor entrance. As a result, the fleet was dealing with wind patterns that would often be influenced by the ship and it was important to keep an eye out for changing breezes and wind streaks that flowed around it. As the PRO, Dooley made sure his team of mark boats were on top of the variable conditions and with mark changes taking place on virtually every leg of every race, it was a remarkable achievement to get in the first full round robin of nine races between 1115 hrs and 1630 hrs on the first day!

Right out of the gate, winning race one by a significant margin was the Santa Barbara YC Youth Team, skippered by Lucas Pierce. It was a precedent setting performance, for the rest of the day they won two more races and closed with 13 points total for the first round robin. Hot on their heels all day long was the Coral Reef YC Youth Team, skippered by Ivan Shestopalov, winning a race plus posting mostly top three finishes to finish the day with 17 pts. Rounding out the top three was Eastern YC Junior Team skippered by Clark Uhl, starting out slowly with a 6th, but closing fast with a 1-4-1 in their last three races for 19 points total. Tied with them, but losing on count-back for the moment, is the Annapolis YC Youth Team skippered by Porter Kavle. Rounding out the top five is the Severn Sailing Association Youth Team skippered by Jim Golden with 21 points total.

The format for the racing is a unique combination of match-racing and fleet-racing round-robin, boat-rotation scenarios. Due to their extensive experience in running such events, Kevin Dooley's team at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy devised a clever approach to maximizing sailing on the water for the nine teams sailing six boats. The regatta has two round robins of nine races total. The top three teams automatically qualify for the Championship round. The bottom six teams sail a five race "repechage" round; the top three teams qualify to sail the Championship round. Then, the finale of six boats determines the winner of the event!

Saturday's forecast looks more promising, with a frontal passage overnight generating SSE winds of 6-10 kts early, swinging into the S/SW by later in the afternoon with winds in the 8-13 kts range.

For information and results see yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=3025

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