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Beacon Group A-Class Catamaran World Championships at Houston Yacht Club - Day 1

by Gordon Upton 2 May 17:55 BST 1-6 May 2022

The Beacon Group 2022 A Class World Championships started with a bang today, as a large thunderstorm tracked into Galveston Bay from the South. The first Open Division race was finishing when the lightning struck a nearby water tower. This was the trigger to the race committee to send everyone scurrying ashore. But not before the exciting first race of the Worlds was run.

35 open foiling 'A' Cats lined up for the start and all got away cleanly. The top mark was set 1.4 miles away to the South East. The water of this part of Galveston bay is only about 10ft deep, and this results in a short vicious chop developing in any sort of wind. Today was no exception.

Initially, the going was pretty gentle as the wind was 6-7 kts, thus forcing these flying boats into a 'low-rider' displacement mode. In this condition, the sailors really envy the classic riders, who would just effortlessly pull away from them in these conditions with their much lower drag undercarriage. About 10 mins later the lead boat of former French champion, Emmanuel Dode FRA2, had reached the top mark, closely chased by young US Olympic squad sailor Ravi Parent USA 76, who's jockey-like stature perfectly suited these conditions. The wind at the top was maybe 8 kts but still marginal.

This is a very strong fleet. There are several sailors of some considerable note here: national champions, former class world champions, past and current Olympians, including medalists, Sail GP sailors and an America's Cup winner included. The boats filed around the top, in pursuit of the leading pair. All then went into their low drag downwind mode, usually consisting with sitting forward of the front beam to pull the stern out, and getting as much twist into the sail as possible. Then, after a good 15-16 boats had rounded the mark, it happened.

Some way down the fleet, rare for him to be fair, was the young Polish Champion Kuba Surowiec. He had just rounded the top mark, and was flying a hull much higher than any of the others. He then jumped on the wire, and as the hull dropped down he pumped and jerked the whole boat and teased the windward hull up out of the water just before the windward one dropped back in.

This was all he needed, as the drag fell away, his speed increased dramatically, and, steering a higher line, simply rode on this magic carpet past all the front runners still dragging their low downwind mode boats along. As he passed them, going three times their speed, they suddenly realized what he had done to them, and you saw several abruptly change direction as they franticly tried to get on their foils too. He rounded the bottom mark, maybe 500m ahead of the rest. It was magnificent to witness, as of such things champions are made.

Back at the top, he was a good 3 mins ahead, Ravi was next, leading the top breakaway pack of the next six or so determined to get back into the fight. The left of the course looked to be slightly favoured and most went that way. By now, the wind had kicked in to 12-13kts, and it wasn't long before that famous old Galveston Bay chop showed up.

By the start of the last lap, they were eating into Kuba's lead a little, and on the last downwind leg of the 3 lap race, Team USA Sail GP crewman, Riley Gibbs USA 96, had got to within striking distance as Kuba had gone to the right at some point, whereas Riley stayed left. At the finish, Kuba, coming in from the right crossed about 30m ahead of Riley blasting down from the left, to get his first 2022 World Championship points.

America's Cup legend Darren Bundock AUS 88 crossed the line in third, about 100m behind, ahead of Emmanuel in a good fourth and Spanish Olympic Nacra sailor Iago Lopez Marra ESP 97 rounding out the top five. All the while the clouds were building ominously to the East, and then that lighting struck the tower.

However, the race officer, a hugely experienced character named Billy Richnow, let the race run out before ushering his chickens back into the coop.

After an hour of downpour and some bangs, it abated and they were all released back to the course. Again, the RO got race 2 away cleanly and the fleet set off for the top. The delay had allowed the predicted sea breeze to arrive, so it was a nice 12kt upwind leg.

Or at least would have been had it not been for this brutal 2ft short amplitude chop.

But an 'A' Cat is designed to cope - they don't call them 'Wave Piercing Bows' for nothing, these upside down hull shapes. Less fun for the chase boats and RIBs though, I can tell you!

This time the top riders where more evenly matched as Kuba's superpower was now available to all. The blasted though the three laps with first Ravi, then Kuba leading. But finally at the gun it was Ravi who got his first bullet of the Championships, Kuba second with Former Multiple Class World Champ, Stevie Brewin AUS 4 got third. Iago in fourth and Riley in fifth.

Next up were the Classics. Much less sketchy in these condition as they must have one hull in the water, so non-foiling. This fleet also contains a few National Champs, Olympic medalists etc, and the reigning World Champ in the shape of Andrew Landenberger AUS 308. This is the 'A' Cat that normal mortals would usually sail. The close and competitive racing is ensures it's continuing international appeal, as the circus skill required and continuous near death experiences of the Open Division make it an attractive alternative for the older sailor.

Billy got their two races off without incident, although on the second start a boat capsized onto another one, removing both from the game as the gun went.

Almost from the off, it became the Landy show, as most had expected. This multiple World champion and Olympic medalist is pretty much unstoppable in this fleet, really leaving the rest to battle for the other positions. His son and protégé Andy AUS 300 has inherited the racing DNA, and battled with expat Scot and Spanish Champion Micky Todd ESP 7.

The wind had increased to 14kts, but these boats can lap it up in these conditions. At the gun, Landy got his first two bullets, Micky his seconds. Baby Landy came in third and fourth. However, he was dropped a place after being protested by Billy and the race committee for sailing through the line as the previous race was still finishing, the naughty boy.

Hence the opening day was done. Racers can lick their wounds, breakages repaired. The free beer, supplied by a pair of kind sponsors, Fox Brewery and Ingenious Brewing, needed to be drunk too.

Day 2 will be a rather tougher affair though, so much so, that as it's a little fruity out there today, all racing has been canned for the day. But don't switch the channel.

Event website: www.regattanetwork.com/event/23425

Classic Discipline results after day 1:

PosSail NoBoatHelmClubR1R2Pts
1AUS308 Andrew LandenbergerNew England Sailing Club112
2ESP7Hammer Sails /A Cat KitMicky ToddC.A.R Murcia224
3USA73 O.H. RodgersDavis Island Yacht Club336
4AUS300Thirsty TurtleAndreas LandenbergerNew England Sailing ClubSCP48
5USA192 Ken MarshackUpper Keys Sailing Club4610
6USA 99Silver BulletBen HallBokeelia YC/Bristol YC8513
7SUI 65 Charles BuecheCNB10717
8USA 279Nacra A2Jeremy LaunderganDuluth71118
9232Jonezin2sailBill KastNOYC11920
10USA 4Mystery to MeBobby OrrWest River Sailing Club MD61521T
11USA 268Kiwi MagicAndrew BurdettUKSC91221T
12USA 777Little More TrimGilbert MacphersonPalm Beach Sailing Club52025T
13449 Axel IsselUKSC151025T
14USA 79HIGHWAY STARPatrick StadtWest River Sailing Club131326
15USA 007GoldfingerMichael KrantzLake Lanier Sailing Club19827
16USA74Double PlayScott StevensonCarlyle Sailing Assocation141933T
17148 Chris BoltonPRSA161733T
18USA 356Hot Tub on FireMark MillerLake Hopatcong Yacht Club172138T
19435Thai GirlJohn CramerFWYC201838T
20POL120 Valdek KwasniewskiSSS12DNF45T
21444 Greg MatthewsUKSC222345T
22USA165ApocalypseBob WebbonUpper Keys Sailing ClubDNF1447T
23395puzzle boxMichael LoveHobie Fleet 416CP*2247T
2417Hawaiian PrideMark BatchelorCRAMDNS1649
25USA 124calypso 4Chris FordAustin Yacht Club18DNS51
26430Seth HerzonSeth HerzonPettipaug Yacht Club21DNF54
27USA 450Strategery 12Cliff FarrahFWYC/SYC23DNC56
28308 WARREN MITCHELLOak Hallow Sailing ClubNSC2457
2913amour de merChristopher BrownOGYCDNCDNC66T
29usa 310 woody copegycDNCDNF66T
29Us 57Black and BlueTom PaoliCarlyle Sailing AssociationDSQDNC66T
29ARG 399 Daniel SteinEl AguilaDNFDNF66T

Open Discipline results after day 1:

PosSail NoBoatHelmClubR1R2Pts
1Pol 41Exploder / Bryt SailsJakub SurowiecUKS Navigo123
2USA 96N/ARiley GibbsSt Francis Yacht Club / ABYC257
3AUS88RonstanDarren BundockSaratoga SC369T
4Esp 97Bonieklago Lopez MarraReal club nautico portosin549T
5Aus 4Harken forwardSteven BrewinKcc7310
676 Ravi ParentAlamitos Bay YC/Sarasota Sailing Squadron10111
7FRA 2 Emmanuel DODESociété des Régates de Vannes4812
8USA 311 Bruce MahoneyMahoney Projects6713
9POL 1Exploder AD3Jacek NoetzelUKS Navigo Sopot9918
10USA 320 Bailey WhiteLLSC81220
11CAN 44A CatLarry WoodsBBCC121123
12usa 330 lars guckbristol151025
13USA 426Mr. TommyCam FarrahFort Walton Yacht Club/ Southern Yacht Club141529
14USA 230HatfuBob HodgesNew Orleans/Pontchartrain161632
15ISV 15 Chris BatchelorSTYC241337
16UAS180Red Gear RacingRobbie DanielRed gear racing201838
17USA367dilligafanlan StorerSouthwestern Y.C.211940
18ARG 666Devillan RodgerCUBA251742
19401Blue angleDaniel PaoliCSA291443T
20USA 349Freccia IIDaniel SegravesAlamitos Bay Yacht Club222143T
21712 Francisco VenetucciYCR YCA192746
22USA 37RonstanMichael ChristensenSarasota Sail Squadron11DNS47T
23USA 414AreteSam CarterWest River Sailing Club272047T
24CAN 66OODTodd WoodsBBSC232447T
25USA 113 Matthew KeenanSandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club13DNF49
26USA 143Real Estate INK Solutions.comMark HerendeenSpace Coast Catamaran Fleet282250
27Can 55Usain boatAndrew WoodsBBCC17DNS53
28USA: 294Flying CircusRichard StevensLLSC18DNF54
29CAN29Outrageous 2David BradlyNepean Sailing Club302555
30ARG 03chinosergio armestoYacht Club Argentino332356
310 Dustin RomeyUpper Keys Sailing Club342660
32USA 9Cloud 9Jeffrey BrauchTPYC26DNF62
33USA 234 Andrew GaynorBristol YC31DNC67
341023DNA F1xDean MaykeBurlington32DNS68
35261VeritasMarty McKennaWest River Sailing Club35DNF71

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