Sunday, July 29, 2012

SOAKING IT UP AT THE KANEOHE YACHT CLUB

For more than a third of the 2012 Pac Cup fleet, the race is over and recovery underway at the Kaneohe Yacht Club. While results are not yet official, the clear winner this year is Andy Costello’s J125 Double Trouble, finishing in 7 days, 23:42:44. The victory is particularly sweet for Costello as it’s his first-ever Pac Cup. He was stoked to reap the benefits of two+ years he’s put into optimizing his boat. Costello also hand picked a crew with the right chemistry to get the job done - fast.

“We sailed to Hawaii in under 8 days on a 40-footer,” Costello said, “That’s pretty good! I know it’s an extremely fast time for the size boat. It was really windy and the conditions were really suited for the boat and of course Skip (McCormack) called a perfect navigational race. We had five extremely good drivers - at night there was no horizon, no moon and plenty of clouds so you’re not driving by sight - it’s all feel and you had better know what you are doing. We didn’t have to slow down; we just went as fast as we could possibly go during the night. We were changing our drivers out every two hours so there was always someone driving the boat at full capacity. It keeps the pace on. We got to the point about 2-3 days before the end of the race where we felt good enough that we could put it into a slower gear or we could have probably finished the race 8-9 hours faster. But there was no need to break anything or blow the boat up before we got here.”

Costello said they had breeze in the lower 20s for most of the race, and for them, that was based on putting the boat in the right position on the course.

“I think a lot of the guys who stayed higher than us didn’t get as much breeze as we did because we dove south and because of that we were able to stay in the pressure and get around everybody. We sailed a lot more miles than everybody else but we still got here faster. It was awesome. Warrior is another J/125; we beat him by 250 miles - just shows that we’ve done everything to get the boat going like this. Trevor (Baylis) has designed the sails for the boat - the spinnaker is not like a normal sail - we really developed everything to make the boat faster and faster over the past few years. It’s a whole other level and I think we can win some more races with it.”

The other two crew on board Double Trouble are Jody McCormack and Matt Noble.

By 2pm Sunday, more than a third of the fleet had finished and were either dockside at the Kaneohe Yacht Club or making their way across Kaneohe Bay to KYC. All Div. E boats have finished, as well as Spellbound, Andromeda, Jamani, Moonshine, Hula Girl, Sapphire, Hana Ho, Kotu, Swazik,

Icon, the Perry 66 owned by Kevin Welch of Anacortes, WA was the first boat to finish in 7 days, 16:33:34. The race was both the first time he’d taken the boat offshore, and a first Pac Cup for he and his wife Jenny and their two sons, Christian (17) and Eric (14).

Said Welch, “We deliberately ran a very conservative race given that we had the family aboard and that the entire experience of navigating offshore, the routing, squalls etc. was new to us. It’s always difficult being the fastest boat in the fleet - the first few days were very painful for us in that we just didn’t have any wind and we knew the boats behind had considerably more wind than we did. It made it just about impossible for us to sail to our handicap. We did the best we could in very light winds for the first part of the race. We also encountered significant marine debris including a large floating dock which caused us to maybe throttle back a little bit.”

Welch said that his kids did about 20 hours each steering the boat, with Eric taking their onboard speed record. He also discovered Icon is not a such a comfortable ride offshore. “It’s a carbon sled and the ride is very violent - you can’t stand up inside really when you get rolling or you get slammed from side to side and if you go over quickly you’re airborne.” Maybe not the best environment for a family vacation but one that Welch says his kids, who loved it, will always remember.

The Antrim Class 40 California Condor, owned by “Buzz” Blackett III, was fifth to finish in 8 days, 17:10:13.

“We had a fun race and an exciting race but it was disappointing because we had to throttle back about two thirds of the way (around the 5th night) after we got hit with a squall which we were managing just fine until the wind went from 27 knots to 37 knots instantaneously. We bore off and put the bow into a wave and brought the green water up to the instrument level at the boom, blew up the kite and discovered later a possible delaminated stringer forward as well as a hairline crack and stretched D3. At that point we throttled back until Jim (Antrim) and Paul (Cronin) could fashion a ring frame that they made out of one of our floorboards that got strapped in place to stabilize the stringer and tightened up the D3 but we nursed the boat from that point forward.”

Blackett, on his third Pac Cup, found this race windier and much more exciting than before. “We sailed a more rhumb line course in 2010 but this was I think the shortest course I’ve sailed. Our strategy was to go south at the point where we could get the kite up and go fast and we didn’t quite as far south as Double Trouble and that southerly position for them really paid dividends.”

For current standings and finishes, visit: http://www.pacificcup.org/reports

Thursday, July 26, 2012

LOOKS LIKE FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE BAR FOR FIRST PAC CUP BOATS

At 1650 hours on Thursday, the crew on Icon, the Perry 66, was likely licking their lips knowing a frosty cold beverage sits less than 164 nm away. They're currently leading the 2012 Pac Cup fleet and looking to a Friday morning arrival.

Hot on their heels is Double Trouble, the J125, in the same breeze 12+ knots from 230 degrees, with just 242.20 nm from paradise, and currently sitting in first overall.

Said navigator Skip MacCormack earlier today, “This boat has been LIT UP. We have been pushing hard. The last two nights were spent sending it into complete darkness. There has been no visual reference what-so-ever until last night when we had stars to drive by for 30 minutes until we were engulfed by another big, black, horizon eating rain cloud.

No throttling back, keep pushing, pushing, pushing to get to the leverage point first in an attempt to remove options from our competitors. We have now gybed and are headed to Hawaii. Now we are officially allowed to talk about that first Mai Tai. No more of this unofficial talk. So far, Jody (MacCormack) has the boat speed record at 20.8. She is killing it, having gained huge confidence in her driving skills.”

Medusa, the Santa Cruz 52 skippered by Jay Spaulding is sitting 351.80 nm behind Double Trouble but still comfortably in front of J World’s Hula Girl who has 415 nm left in this race.

From Hula Girl, Wayne Zittel talked of sleigh rides today, “It's been a wild couple of days. Early Tuesday morning, we entered a solid band of breeze, which lasted for about two days. Winds were mostly 20-25 knots, with occasional squalls pushing things to around 30. Hula Girl was dancing with the waves, ticking off prolonged runs at 15, 16 knots and occasional leaps over 20. Just a complete blast, but nerve wracking... the squalls come on fast, and last a loooong time. You see the darkness come up behind you. Then you feel the rain. Then the wind is on you, the boat literally takes off, and your sleigh ride has begun. You'd better bring your A game.

But we have taken some lumps too. We blew up a kite (my favorite 2A. We broke a gooseneck pin (good on the sharp eyes of Tim for noticing it before it became a big issue). We got some debris caught on the prop and strut, then later caught a sheet down there... had to drop the kite and park it for a bit to clear the tangle. We broke an after guy. And so on. Radio chatter indicates that more than a couple boats have has issues, but luckily nothing sounds too major.”

Jamani is leading the double-handed fleet, with 525 nm to finish. Cassiopeia (Islander 36) is leading the Div A fleet, with committee boat Valis just behind.

Paul Elliott, skipper on Valis, said this afternoon, “Today has been a wonderful sunny day, with great wind and moderate seas. Halfway through last night we took down the spinnaker (which was over-powering us in the squalls), and sailed until morning with main and genoa. We lost a little top speed, but we sailed safely through the night with no drama or breakage (and broken equals slow). This morning we hoisted the “shy kite” AKA “chicken chute”, a smaller spinnaker designed for heavier air. This has been pulling us towards Kaneohe at a speedy clip since then.”

Don’t forget to log onto http://www.pacificcup.org/blogs, to catch up on day-to-day life aboard Pac 2012 boats.

Stay tuned!

Pic Hula Girl compliments of Erik Simonson/Pressure-drop.us

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ERIKA HEINKEN CROWNED WOMEN'S NA KITEBOARD COURSE RACING CHAMPION

26-year old Erika Heineken, from Marin County, Calif., is the new women’s North American Course Racing Champion. It’s her first major kiteboarding win, and she shares the success with brother Johnny Heineken, who was also crowned the 2012 men’s North American Course Racing Champion this past weekend.

Markus Schwendtner, executive secretary for the IKCA (International Kiteboard Class Association) noted his appreciation to event host, “The renowned St. Francis Yacht Club, one of the birth places and still a hot spot for kite course racing, hosted an amazing event for the nearly 70 kite racers and 20+ Formula Windsurfers in this combined championship event of the IKA and Formula Windsurfing Class.”

12 races in challenging conditions were held over the course of four days, split into three days of qualifying series and one day of final series. With two discards for the whole event it was crucial for competitors to stay out of trouble and avoid mistakes and equipment failure. Winds up to 30 knots at the top mark situated right under the Golden Gate Bridge and steep choppy seas made the event a challenge for both sailors and equipment.

The women’s kiteboarding podiums were completed by Boriana Viljoen (Ocean Rodeo) and Warenta Smutny (North), and as published briefly yesterday, Bryan Lake (USA, Cabrinha/Mikes Lab) and Adam Koch (USA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) for the men.

Sailblast had a chat with Erika this morning and she sounded super excited to have won this event. I didn’t ask but assumed she was not spending the day at her job as a mechanical engineer for the Department of Public Works in San Francisco, hopefully she was taking a day off to celebrate her success…

How did it feel to be up there on the podium?

EH: It felt great!


Seemed like you were in the game the entire event?

EH: Yeah, I sailed really consistently. I got in a few tangles which didn’t help my overall score but I sailed really consistently in both the qualifiers and the gold final series races. I was the only girl to make the gold fleet which was cool! I ended up getting 23rd overall and I think the next girl finished 25 spots below me. So I was pretty much racing against the guys which I’m used to and I love!

What training did you do to prepare for the event?

EH: My training regimen includes just sailing here - all summer. I haven’t traveled, I’ve just been sailing at Crissy and it’s been amazing. We’ve had the best summer here I can imagine.

Were you happy with your result?

EH: Yeah! I wanted to get top 20 but once I saw who registered - we ended up getting a huge group of the best international men - once I saw that they were going to come I knew I wasn’t going to finish as high but at the same time it was super exciting to be racing against the best in the world in my home. None of the good international girls showed up which was kind of disappointing. I’d like to see where I stand in comparison to them before I go to the Worlds in October.

Is there a range of conditions better suited for you?

EH: Yeah - I’d say 20-30 knots in chop I’m really fast! When I’m on my 7m, I’m pretty fast, when I’m on my 9 - well, I’m getting better on that - but this summer 90% of the days I’ve been on my 7 and it’s been just wonderful. That’s the one thing going into the international fleet is that I need to figure out how to get more light air practice.


Do you see yourself windsurfing again?

EH: I’d love to go out if the gear was rigged ready to go and conditions were perfect, but I’ll never go back to … rigging again. Kiting is more exciting.

The next two major events of the International Kiteboarding Association will be the European Championships in La Baule, France (26.-30.09.2012) and the Kite Course Racing World Championships in Cagliari, Italy (02.-07.10.2012), before the South American Championship in Buzios, Brazil (15.-18.11.2012) and the first ever ISAF Sailing World Cup with the inclusion of Kiteboarding as Olympic Event in Melbourne, Australia, conclude the 2012 season.

Fullresults:http://www.stfyc.com/files/2012%20Kite%20_%20WS%20NAs%20KITEBOARD%20Results.pdf

Awesome pics compliments of Erik Simonson/Pressure-drop.us

Monday, July 23, 2012

HALF WAY FOR ICON

It’s Day 8 for the first starts on the 2012 Pac Cup and all boats are finally in the breeze.

At 2pm PDT on Monday July 23, leading the pack with 1035 nm sailed since their departure on Thursday is the Perry 66 Icon, owned and helmed by Kevin Welsh, enjoying a breeze of 15-16 knots from 058 degrees.

Jamani, the J/120 double-handed entry owned and helmed by Sean Mulvihill is having a great race, just behind Icon with 1085 nm distance to finish and still the most northerly situated boat in a similar breeze. Sailing just a tad south behind Jamani is the J/125 Double Trouble, with 1096 nm DTF. (Ed Note - real time positions recorded here).

Principal Race Officer Bobbi Tosse received a report on Sunday evening from Alameda Coast Guard Ed Skinner, confirming that the double handed Espiritu Santo, owned and skippered by John Silverwood had a generator problem and they were apparently unable to charge any of their devices so have turned around and are headed to Santa Barbara.

Otherwise, all is well on the high seas. From the boats, reports are upbeat. Hula Girl is sailing in 15-18 knots, small waves, and deep blue water, “It's looking a bit more like the brochure,” skipper Wayne Zittel quips. “We have a mix-and-match crew from various corners of North America, and even though this is the first time the group has sailed together, I have to say they are doing an impressive job… even the Canadians...”

Zittel says they’ve maintained a bit of leverage to the south, “The breeze we are seeing out here for the past two days does not at all match the forecast models, so we have been paying increased attention to the NWS weather faxes and, even though they don't match the reality out here, they are closer. If we had to guess (and we do), we'll roll the dice that it will be a bit lighter and lifted to the north, so for now, we like our position relative to the competition."

From Double Trouble, navigator Skip McCormack reported on Saturday that this is the first (Hawaii) race he’s sailed where he’s never worn his thermals. “It's been incredibly warm and pleasant.”

When I last spoke to McCormack he was removing any item possible from the boat to lighten it up - clearly their priorities were inline by opting to keep the small luxuries, “The olive oil has been broken out for the Indian food on tonight's menu, but we had to use a few teaspoons to drop in the top rudder bearing for lubricant to stop the incessant squeaking,” he said.

Back to racing, McCormack says they were anxious about sailing the longer distance and having the high consolidate early and release the boats to their North quicker than anticipated. “However, it appears that did not occur and as of this morning's 11am report, we had nosed out on the fleet (except Icon) and rumbling towards the next shift.

Our goal is to keep the boat moving faster through the water and cross in front of the fleet to gain leverage to the NW as the breeze shifts right Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The DT is a different beast than many of our competitors. Being lighter and shorter, we will be sailing hotter angles and more distance. The tracker shows us doing just that, about 1.5kts faster through the water, but on an angle upwards of 5-15 degrees higher than our competitors.”

Weather guru Lee Chesneau has been providing daily weather reports to the fleet and this reported, “All the boats should be in the wind now. It’s an absolutely ideal scenario for this race now. The high is in the right position, the winds will begin to veer - for all the boats that are west of 135 west the winds veer from northerly to north easterly.

Once they get past 140-145 west, then the winds begin to become a little more easterly. It’ll be an interesting strategy for those who opted a higher latitude, they’ll probably have a better angle into Hawaii than those who opted to go south and then try to cut over. But, wind speed will remain in the 15-20 range, with waves to 8 feet - very traditional.”

Don’t forget to log onto http://www.pacificcup.org/blogs, to catch up on day-to-day life aboard Pac 2012 boats.

Stay tuned!

PHOTOS: DIV E BOATS STARTING 2012 PAC CUP
COMPLIMENTS OF ERIK SIMONSON/PRESSURE-DROP.US
Al Clark from Vancouver B.C., is an icon on the Laser racing scene, from simply having been around it for many years to his laid-back style of sailing his boat - kinda kick-back casual. But don't mistake that for a lack of seriousness come race day - he would not entertain a casual chat prior to racing as he was "too focused on the day’s work ahead". At 52, Al takes the racing game very seriously, and it shows.

Racing at Cascade Locks this past week in the Laser North American Championships, Clark placed second overall in the 100-strong Radial fleet, losing out to winner Isabella Bertold (CAN) by just three points, and seven points ahead of third place, to kids less than half his age. Bertold is a former Clark protegee now racing at Olympic level.

Clark had a great regatta this past weekend, “It’s good sailing here. The current where we were sailing brings in a whole different aspect to it because there’s an area where there’s a lot of current over on the WA side. That makes it very tricky. Plus, you had a very big starting line with the current bringing everyone up so it’s very tough racing. It’s very hard to be consistent - no one was winning all these races, that’s for sure. I was just happy to get anywhere near the front because there was so many possible pitfalls at the start - missing the current etc. The first two races today were in quite light air though and the second two were better."

He also spent some time - after sailing - to chat about what’s happening on the Canadian Laser scene, especially from where he stands in BC. He’s worked for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club for ten years coaching sailing in the summers since 1985. He grew up racing Lasers in his teens and 20s, stopped to have a family and raise kids and is now racing again.

How’s the racing scene in Canada these days?

AC: I think it’s kind of like the Canadian National Downhill Ski Team years ago. I remember when I first started this job I thought how great it was that they used to share all their information. They all became good and they all bought into the concept that if everyone shares information the whole group benefits. I like to think our sailing has grown that way.


What changes have you seen in your time in this class and at these regattas?

AC: Regattas were big when I was a kid. I remember going to a regatta in 1980 that 250 people so the Laser class has been healthy. It has its waves of up and down. We didn’t have an Opti fleet back then. A lot of the kids who are racing in the Radials now are out of Optis so maybe that’s I think is different - it was probably an older crowd racing Lasers back then. And, it was only just Lasers - now you have Lasers, Radials, 4.7s - so three fleets here with 170 people. But we’d have one fleet and 170 people show up back in the early days. It’s been popular. There’s more coaching, more motor boats, more people being attentive - we didn’t have any of that when I was a kid.

What do you see when you come to the US versus the state of competitive sailing in Canada?

AC: The American system is different because they have the high-school sailing and college sailing, which we don’t have. It seems like, somehow, the sailing is attached to education. It’s not so in Canada. It’s like church and state. If you want to go to university, which most kids do, you just go. Tuition is not super expensive whereas down here, I think a lot of kids want to do well and they take college sailing and that’s the debate, whether college sailing is ultimately a great solution for high level sailing like the US Sailing Team.

Instead, our guys come to the Club (Royal Vancouver Yacht Club). It’s all yacht club sailing. For under 18s at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club its just $125 a year. To be part of the race team is a $100/month and for that you can keep your boat on the dock. The club buys big trucks and trailers and hires coaches - we have got five coaches. The money comes from the membership - 5500 members at Royal Van. They get behind it because you’re getting new members. You’re teaching them to sail and they’re going to stay.

How about your own sailing?

AC: I keep doing Masters sailing. The Masters fleet in North America is not super tough but the Worlds are tough. This year I came 6th, the year before I won. I’ve had anywhere from first to sixth depending over the last 6-7 years. It’s good racing and it’s fun.

Do you attribute hanging out with the kids you’re coaching as keeping you up-to-speed so as to speak?

AD: Oh yeah, they keep me young. The job keeps me young. I go biking all the time and they like to go biking. I don’t really take holidays - I take busman’s holidays - I’m going to do a masters regatta at the Richmond Yacht Club in the Bay Area next weekend after this. I really like sailing.

There’re quite a few kids doing well from your yacht club doing well in this regatta?

AC: Yeah - we have a new group that has just come on. We’ve had 13 members win youth world championships and go to the Olympics. 3 or 4 people are at the Olympics now who used to be on our team from our club. They’re obviously still sailing for our club although not on the race team per se. Isabella Bertold came very close to going to the Olympics this year (she trains with Paige Railey). We’ve had a lot of success and again, its supported by the club, which is great. If you didn’t have that there probably wouldn’t be a ton going on. Other than the race team, at the RVYC there’re probably only 10 people sailing Lasers in our area.

Does your physical location create any obstacles when it comes to getting to regattas?
AC: I’ve driven through 46 of 48 states with the truck and trailer. So we do get around. We have a trailer that is six years old and I believe it has about 300,000 kms on it right now. In Vancouver we know we’re isolated so we’ll drive to LA just for a weekend regatta - whatever that is - 5000 kms round trip!

Pic: A partially wetsuit-clad Al Clark with his youth team including Isabella Bertold on his left, taken at Cascade Locks, Laser North Americans 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

CHRIS BARNARD WINS LASER NORTH AMERICANS

With a race or two to spare, Chris Barnard skipped the last of three races sailed on the final day of the Laser North Americans hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association at Cascade Locks, Oregon. After sailing an almost faultless regatta this week, the 21-year old College Sailor of the Year was relieved to get off the water knowing that he’d taken the championship title with 12 points to spare. Conditions today were good for racing, cooler with a breeze up to 23 knots.

“It feels really good,” Barnard said. “Today was really tough for me because I woke up with really bad stomach cramps this morning so it was a real mental and physical battle to get myself out there and challenge myself to come through on top with a race or two to spare. It was hard for me to hike and keep pushing through but it’s a good feeling to have won.”

Barnard put some serious work in earlier this year knowing that this event would be his peak regatta of the summer. “It was a struggle over in Europe,” he said, “I went over there to get fitter and better, and it definitely paid off to win this event.

Barnard will go home to California to do some coaching over the rest of summer and looks forward to the next event in Kingston, Ontario (Canada). “I’ll be seeing a lot of the same guys there, but definitely for the next few weeks I’ll be resting the body.”

Derick Vranizan took second place with 35 points, and in third was Robert Davis with 43 points. Vranizan acknowledged the competition was tough, “Chris sailed an excellent regatta. It wasn’t typical Gorge conditions for most of the week unfortunately. We didn’t have the big wind until today but I had fun, it was a good event, really well run. CGRA did a great job, as always. I love coming down here so I’m looking forward to the next one.”

While a win would have been nice for 25-year old Vranizan, he recognized that he needs more time in the boat, “I haven’t been in the boat much in the last six months as I’ve been taking care of more real world priorities, so more training would have helped. Otherwise it’s just small stuff really. When it comes to start sailing again, it’ll be full on!”


12-year old Ford McCann said he was “worn” when he got off the water after he won his fleet, finishing with 17 points. He certainly worked for his victory, putting on a great performance to take first in the 4.7. “I hiked really hard and focused on getting to where the current would lift you up the course. Patrick (Shanahan) was great competition also.”

Shanahan finished second with 27 points, and Parker Hughes was third with 49 points.

Racing was closest in the Radial fleet, with Isabella Bertold finishing in first with 28 points, Al Clark in second with 31 points (the 52-year old won 2 races and scored a 4th today), while Mateo Vargus finished in third with 38 points.


Jacques Kerrest (Potomac River Sailing Assocation), a Laser master who wouldn’t divulge his age other than to say he was old enough to be on Medicare - rumor is that he was the oldest sailor participating - thoroughly enjoyed the event, “Racing was wonderful, good wind, sunny much of the time. The competition was fantastic. The wind and current make this a challenging place to sail. But also, the competition - these are the best Laser sailors in North America.”

Final Top Five Laser Standard:
1. Chris Barnard (sail #194180), Newport Harbor YC, 23 pts
2. Derick Vranizan (sail #196842), Seattle YC, 35 pts
3. Robert Davis, (sail #200610), Kingston YC/RCYC, 43 pts
4. Alexander Heinzemann (sail # 197160) Royal Van YC, 50 pts
5. Eric Bowers (sail #199761), Minnetonka YC, 55 pts

Final Top Five Laser 4.7:
1. Ford McCann (sail #199339), TCYC, 17 pts
2. Patrick Shanahan (sail #199169), St Petersburg YC, 27 pts
3. Parker Hughes (sail #182342), TCYC, 49 pts
4. Daniel Kendrick (sail #181884), Houston YC, 63 pts
5. Nate Clemett (sail # 174980), SYC, 65 pts

Final Top Five Laser Radial:
1. Isabella Bertold (sail #198385), R Van YC, 28 pts
2. Al Clark, (sail # 197053), R Van YC, 31 pts
3. Mateo Vargas (sail # 194551), St Petersburg YC/Stanford, 38 pts
4. Malcom Lamphere (sail # 199796), Lake Geneva YC, 39 pts
5. Christine Nevill (sail # 199535), ILCA, 65 pts

Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm.

Pics:
1. Chris Barnard
2. Derick Vranizan
3. Ford McCann
4. The "French" Masters - Jacques Kerrest (R) & "JB" (L)

FINALLY…GORGE-LIKE CONDITIONS FOR LASER SAILORS

Four races were sailed on Saturday on Day 3 of the Laser North Americans, under warm sunny skies and a breeze that built to a steady 21 knots. Sailing families suntanned and swam in the Columbia River with a great view to the racecourse as 170+ Lasers whipped around a challenging course.

The leaders in each fleet have consolidated their positions and look good going into the final on Sunday. Scoring two bullets and two second places again today with a 13 point lead, 21-year old Chris Barnard, from Newport Beach, Calif., finally had a big smile on his face after racing today, very satisfied with his first place but knows there’s still more racing. (You have to catch him after racing to chat to him as he’s just too focused on racing to talk in the mornings, at least that’s what his buddies told me).

“I’m definitely pleased tactically and strategy-wise playing the first beats, staying conservative and making sure I’m in the race. Downwind I’m staying aggressive and using my speed to make my gains, I’m hiking hard and just keep working hard. We’ve still got a few more races left and so I’m just sailing as hard as I can,” Barnard said.

Robert Davis has been plugging away in third over the past few days, chasing Derick Vranizan who in second has an eight point lead over the Canadian. Said Davis, “I’ve had a pretty tough time. It was pretty windy today and there were some pretty decent puffs especially downwind. Chris and Derick are really providing some competition, especially downwind. I’d be happier if I was challenging them more. Chris has a pretty big jump on both of us now - the top two from this regatta get world spots for Oman next year so Derick’s more important to me right now.”

In the Radial fleet, Malcom Lamphere will be a little disappointed with his result today finishing with 16 points, just 1 point behind Isabella Bertold who sits in first, as he was really hoping to be sitting that first spot. Lamphere threw out his first two races where he placed 10th and 12th, faring better with a second and first in the last two races of the day. Veteran Al Clark, 52, who coaches the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club team, sits in third in this competitive fleet. He says the kids keep him young … and obviously quick.

“It’s been good sailing,” Clark (another who is not particularly chatty in the mornings as he's focused on getting out to the course!) said. “The current where we’re sailing brings in a whole different aspect to it because there’s an area where there’s a lot of current over on the Washington side. That makes it very tricky. Plus, you have a very big starting line with the current bringing everyone up so it’s very tough racing. It’s very hard to be consistent - no one’s winning all these races today, that’s for sure. I was just happy to get anywhere near the front because there was so many possible pitfalls at the start - missing the current etc. The first two races today were in quite light air though and the second two were better. It’s nice racing in the fresh water and it’s a beautiful place to sail - I love sailing here.”

It’s extremely tight at the top of the 4.7 fleet, with the top four mixing it up by a just a point. Patrick Shanahan finished the day with 16 points just one point ahead of nemesis Ford McCann, while Daniel Kendrick and Parker Hughes are tied for third with 42 points, making for a big lead for the top two in this fleet.

International Laser Class President Tracy Usher, also racing the regatta is impressed with the way in which the regatta has been managed. “It’s going really well and with 170+ boats, it’s well organized. CGRA are certainly turning races around. There’s not a lot of waiting in between races.”

He’s also been impressed with the high level of competition.

“With the Olympics being settled and the representatives chosen, there is a tendency this regatta this year to see a step down in the level so there are probably three guys who aren’t here who could be in the standard rig fleet who would be at the top and a few women who aren’t here but after that, I think it’s still a good quality fleet. I think the guys sailing in the standard and I am sure some of the women are going to do the next Olympics so it's a good chance to see them in action.”

Top five in the Laser Standard after Day 3:
1. Chris Barnard (sail #194180), Newport Harbor YC, 13 pts
2. Derick Vranizan (sail #196842), Seattle YC, 26 pts
3. Robert Davis, (sail #200610), Kingston YC/RCYC, 34 pts
4. Alexander Heinzemann (sail # 197160) Royal Van YC, 35 pts
5. Eric Bowers (sail #199761), Minnetonka YC, 40 pts

Top five in the Laser 4.7 after Day 3:
1.Patrick Shanahan (sail #199169), St Petersburg YC, 16 pts
2. Ford McCann (sail #199339), TCYC, 17 pts
3. Daniel Kendrick (sail #181884), Houston YC, 42T pts
4. Parker Hughes (sail #182342), TCYC, 42T pts
5. Macey McCann (sail # 175017), TCYC, 46 pts

Top five in the Laser Radial after Day 3:
1. Isabella Bertold (sail #198385), R Van YC, 15 pts
2. Malcom Lamphere (sail # 199796), Lake Geneva YC, 16 pts
3. Al Clark, (sail # 197053), R Van YC, 25 pts
4. Mateo Vargas (sail # 194551), St Petersburg YC/Stanford, 31 pts
5. Clay Broussard (sail # 190464), LYC, 58T pts
6. Andrew Puopolo (sail #198363), Marsh Creek Sailing Club, 58T pts

Racing continues through Sunday. Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm.

PHOTOS: Paul Nelson/Photoboat.us


Saturday, July 21, 2012

FLUKY BREEZE CHALLENGES AS PAC CUP FLEET SETTLES INTO GROOVE

46 boats are now well underway in Pac Cup 2012. With the weather presenting itself as it did earlier in the week, it’s no surprise that the boats that left Monday/Tuesday are quickly being caught by those who left later in the week.

At 0730 hours Saturday morning, the double-handers were leading the pack, as they have done since their departure on Monday. The J/120 Jamani has maintained a solid lead on the fleet and has logged 592 nm just under five days. 45 nm behind is Naos 30, with Relentless 28 nm behind Naos 30. The breeze was at 8+ knots from 032 degrees.

The rest of the fleet sits loosely clustered behind the three lead boats, except Juanita, the Phoenix 38 on her maiden Pac Cup, who is well at the back of the fleet having gotten stuck in a wind hole some distance north early on to only track south again and find her groove along with the more northerly situated of the gang, which could end up working out well for her.

This morning the crew on Double Trouble reported that they had really rough conditions last night with very little horizon and the boat bound up on a tight reach with puffs/lulls.

Navigator Skip McCormack said, “The instruments couldn't keep up with the wind shifts. We have photo-luminescent tape on the luff of the kites, so it looks like a glowing zipper in the sky, showing the break in the luff, which is all we had to steer by.”

They were somewhat comforted by a 2am tracker report that showed Condor and Warrior dead upwind of them at 26 and 53 miles respectively. “Medusa is just aft of our beam at 46 miles. The rest of the fleet is spread between those two angles at various distances, except Icon, who is going higher and a little faster and about 54 miles closer to Hawaii than we are,” reported McCormack.

A hot contender to win this year’s Pac Cup, Double Trouble thought they had a pretty good plan going into their race start on Thursday.

Reported McCormack, “Everything seemed to be panning out for a slower exit out of the Gulf of the Farallons with a light building NW breeze that would keep us high on rhumb line towards Hawaii. The Pacific High was well west and would be consolidating on the coast while remaining well north.

As Trevor (Baylis) and Andy (Costello) were saying "Let's Go!" to get to the boat, the last high-def GRIB was downloaded from broadband and it showed an anomaly to the SE of the high, a little hernia of high pressure. A little nervous, we downloaded another GRIB as we were in the gulf of the Farallons and the anomaly had disappeared. Our original plan was still a go.

At 4am we woke up to a new GRIB with the anomaly back and the high doing a dive from 42N down to 37N, right into our path. Since the GRIBs had been going back and forth, the decision was made to hold off on any rash actions until the next file was available. The next file corroborated the southerly bubble of the high pressure and we changed our game plan.

Up went the 2.5 in the light pressure and down across the fleet we went. Our goal was to get to the ridge between 1024 and 1025 mb, which was well below rhumb line. We watched as we slid south of California Condor, still visible only a few miles behind us. We watched Hula Girl cross behind us as she came reaching back up after a night of southing.

For the next 24 hours we have been anxious about whether sailing the longer distance was better to stay in pressure. We have been sailing super wicked up, stalling out occasionally as we try and cross this band of breeze to get to the ridge in the right spot.”

Commenting on progress thus far, veteran Pac Cup'er Gordy Nash, who won division in the 2010 Pac Cup on a Wiley Cat 30, commented,

“The boats that went north to get into the new breeze coming from the north, they’re now right on Great Circle which is actually the shorter distance than rhumb line,” Nash said. “On Thursday I noticed that Lightspeed went 127 miles - physically sailed through the water 127 miles but credited getting to Hawaii 127 miles - so they’re going Great Circle straight down the dotted line. That’s what the boats that went north are going to have to do. They’re in a position now where they can aim right at the island.”

He noted that the boats that started Wednesday/Thursday were south of the first group and suggested that they would need to either stay in the slot and work back up to Great Circle later, or get back up to rhumb line.

“It’s a situation where you have to go out there and look at the situation and figure out which direction the wind is blowing from - it’s hard to find the breeze because the boat bounces around. To find that breeze and set up for it, you’re going to do well.”

Meanwhile, it’s been life as usual on board as crews get their race on and down to the business of making as quick tracks as possible to Hawaii.

From the committee boat Valis, Michael Moradzadeh reports his crew are getting over the fact that it’s been a week of wallowing in light breeze. He says spirits remain excellent, boasting gourmet meals, albacore and tuna caught, and spinnakers hoisted to catch the little wind available.

“As the first boats reach the edge of the light air, and begin to taste some nice 15+ breezes, the mood has turned ebullient. Mild taunts and cheerful anecdotes of encounters with commercial ships fill the 5pm ‘children’s hour’, while lengthy technical discussions of radios and toilets (depending on what is not working on the boat) fill the airwaves.

Yes, things are back to normal on the Pac Cup. As we gain speed, our spirits lift and Kaneohe looks ever closer.”

Don’t forget to log onto http://www.pacificcup.org/blogs, to catch up on day-to-day life aboard Pac 2012 boats.

Stay tuned!

PHOTOS: DIV C/D BOATS STARTING 2012 PAC CUP
COMPLIMENTS OF ERIK SIMONSON/PRESSURE-DROP.US


Friday, July 20, 2012

Chris Barnard Maintains Solid Lead on Day 2 Laser NAs

21-year old Chris Barnard, from Newport Beach, Calif., maintained his lead and some on Day 2 of the Laser North American Championships underway at Cascade Locks, Oregon, hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association. Sitting in second, Derick Vranizan is still chasing Barnard who has a firm grip on this regatta and a determination to win.

Conditions were marginally better than the first day as thunderstorms overnight left behind gray overcast skies, heavy rainfall earlier in the morning and a light breeze of 10-12 knots with the occasional blast of 18-20 hurtling down the Gorge. Four races were sailed today, for a total of seven to date.

In the Radial fleet, Canadian Isabella Bertold sits in first after a stellar day taking a 3rd and three bullets. The Canadian National Sailing Team member just missed out on making the London Olympics due to an injury so decided to take a break and do something different…like another sailing regatta. She said she’s having a great time in the Gorge racing against the younger group competing.

“They’re all very fast and it’s been lots of fun. Out on the water I’m just trying to stay loose - it was quite gusty and it was important to start at the favored end of the line. The downwinds were really hard. You had to be patient and wait for something to come to you and not panic because if you panic, you’re going to lose some boats. The downwind breeze was isolated so you had to get it first and close the gap.”

Sitting right on Isabella’s tail is Malcom Lamphere from the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. The 16-year old from Chicago is hoping for a top three finish in the regatta. “It’s going great. It’s good to have a lot of breeze as the past regattas I’ve been to have been pretty light.”

Lamphere says staying in the current upwind and staying out it of downwind has been working for him.

Day 2 in the 4.7 fleet saw lead changes in the top five, with Parker Hughes moving into third and exchanging places with Jake Cullen. Tied for first is Ford McCann, from the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club and Patrick Shanahan from the St Petersburg Yacht Club. Daniel Kendrick moved into fifth.

“Today went okay but I had a couple of problems with my third and fourth starts and just getting off the line was kind of trouble,” McCann said. “Everyone was just training down the line. I sail on Galveston Bay and not used to the current here which is pretty tricky - it helps on upwinds but no so much on downwinds.”

Just 12-years old, it’s McCann’s first North Americans and his goal is simple - first place.

It’s also 15-year old Shanahan’s first NAs in the Laser and he’s having a great time.

“I love the wind here. I did pretty well today except for on the downwinds I’d just lose it. I’d be winning some races and Ford would just pass me. I think it’s the current - I keep forgetting about it and go just a little farther then he gets inside and the current just takes me. I’d like to win but I don’t know - Ford’s sailing great too.”


Top five in the Laser Standard after Day 2:
1. Chris Barnard (sail #194180), Newport Harbor YC, 9 pts
2. Derick Vranizan (sail #196842), Seattle YC, 19 pts
3. Eric Bowers (sail #199761), Minnetonka YC, 21 pts
4. Robert Davis, (sail #200610), Kingston YC/RCYC, 22 pts
5. Evert McLoughlin (sail #194538), R Canadian YC, 33 pts

Top five in the Laser 4.7 after Day 2:
1. Ford McCann (sail #199339), TCYC, 4 pts
2. Patrick Shanahan (sail #199169), St Petersburg YC, 7 pts
3. Parker Hughes (sail #182342), TCYC, 18 T
4. Jake Cullen (sail #199716), R Van YC, 10 pts
5. Daniel Kendrick (sail #181884), Houston YC, 18 T
* TCYC - Texas Corinthian YC

Top five in the Laser Radial after Day 2:
1. Isabella Bertold (sail #198385), R Van YC, 5 pts
2. Malcom Lamphere (sail # 199796), Lake Geneva YC, 8 pts
3. Al Clark, (sail # 197053), R Van YC, 10 pts
4. Mateo Vargas (sail # 194551), St Petersburg YC/Stanford, 12 pts
5. Christine Neville (sail # 199535), 18 pts

Racing continues through Sunday. Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

PHOTOS: Paul Nelson/Photoboat.us

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm.

RESULTS UP FOR DAY 1 LASER NORTH AMERICANS

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association race committee had their work cut out for them on Thursday getting away starts for 173 registered boats, the largest fleet of boats ever hosted by the CGRA. The 104 competitors in the Laser Radial were split into two start groups. 16 boats started in the 4.7 and 53 in the Standard Rig. Under partly sunny skies, a warm but unstable breeze built over the course of the afternoon to 15 knots. Three races were sailed on Thursday.

For those sailors who hadn’t previously raced on the Columbia River, it was a day of getting used to the current and fluky breeze. Even Chris Barnard, College Sailor of the Year, who sits in first place after Day 1, tried to take things easy.

“I wanted to have a conservative day and avoid any big mistakes,” Barnard said, “I knew with the upwind current a lot of the gains would be made on the downwind legs so I made sure I was in the race in the downwind leg at the first weather mark and made my gains from there. I was conservative on the beats and pretty aggressive on the downwinds. That’s what worked well for me.”

With racing at the top of the fleet extremely close, Derick Vranizan was happy with his second place result.

“It was a tricky day so I’m fine with it - second is not a bad place to be after one day. I definitely put premium on getting a good start and then just really being heads out of the boat, it was less of a speed day and more of an awareness thing making sure you were on the right spot at the right time. The first race was definitely our windiest race and from there it kind of died off - it was almost hard to go downwind at the end of the last race.”

Sitting right up there at the top of the pack in fifth overall after day 1 is Scott Ferguson, who has just a few years on Barnard and Vranigan, admits that the Laser is a very physical boat to race.

“I'm moving a bit slowly this morning!" Ferguson said. "It's been a while (last August for the Master Worlds) since I have raced these boats. I had two good starts and first beats which got me into the top five. The last race of the day I started near the pin, tacked and crossed the fleet. I rounded in first, but was eventually passed by the young fast guys. Not too much wind, a bit shifty and puffy helps me I think. It will be hard for me to maintain this level of physical intensity for the next three days, but I will give it a whirl!”

Top five in the Laser Standard after Day 1:
1. Chris Barnard (sail #194180), Newport Harbor YC, 10 pts
2. Derick Vranizan (sail #196842), Seattle YC, 11 pts
3. Robert Davis, (sail #200610), Kingston YC/RCYC, 12 pts
4. Eric Bowers (sail #199761), Minnetonka YC, 16 pts
5. Scott Ferguson (sail #180509), Sail Newport, 22 pts


Top five in the Laser 4.7 after Day 1:
1. Ford McCann (sail #199339), TCYC, 4 pts
2. Patrick Shanahan (sail #199169), St Petersburg YC, 7 pts
3. Jake Cullen (sail #199716), R Van YC, 10 pts
4. Parker Hughes (sail #182342), TCYC, 18 T
5. Lenox Butcher (sail #187697), TCYC, 18 T
* TCYC - Texas Corinthian YC

Top five in the Laser Radial after Day 1:
1. Isabella Bertold (sail #198385), R Van YC, 4 pts
2. Malcom Lamphere (sail # 199796), Lake Geneva YC, 7 pts
3. Al Clark, (sail # 197053), R Van YC, 8 pts
4. Mateo Vargas (sail # 194551), St Petersburg YC/Stanford, 10 pts
5. Drake Jensen (sail # 182870), Richmond YC), 14 pts



Competition resumed on Friday after a night of intense thunderstorms in the Gorge and rain early morning. Racing got underway at 11:15am, with cloudy skies and 10-12 knots. Racing continues through Sunday.




Full results at: http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=5096 Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Nelson/Photoboat.us

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Long Day on the Columbia for Competitors in Laser North Americans

A postponement this morning for Day 1 of the Laser North Americans held until around 1:15pm when the ripples finally began to disrupt the mirror-like conditions on the Columbia River…dare it be said…very unusual conditions for this time of year in the infamous Gorge.

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association race committee had their work cut out for them getting away starts for 173 registered boats, the largest fleet of boats ever hosted by the CGRA . The 104 competitors in the Laser Radial were split into two start groups. 16 boats started in the 4.7 and 53 in the Standard Rig. Under partly sunny skies, a warm but very unstable breeze built over the course of the afternoon to 15 knots. Due to a late start just three of four starts were sailed today.

I had some time to chat to Sherri Campbell, secretary since 2004 for the Laser Class North America (and mother of Laser sailor Andrew Campbell) about this particular event:

This is a bigger turnout than was expected, correct?

SC: Yes, 173 competitors is big turnout. We had 212 – the most we’ve ever had - in Brant Beach, NJ, which is the center of a big sailing area. I didn’t think we’d see that many here but this is really fantastic. It’s hard to get to the Gorge and charter boats aren’t that readily available which is why I thought it would impact the turnout but it’s a nice surprise to have this many boats. What has worked well is that different areas put together a trailer and brought a full load of boats and sailors out here, which is what I was suggesting to people that they do. You really do just have to get a bunch of kids together and someone to drive!

How’s the age range – it seems like there are a lot of kids racing?

SC: This regatta is a pretty good representation of what we typically get at a regatta – we always have a lot of young sailors because it’s a class people get into when they’re coming out of their youth pram. We have some grand masters here (over 65) and to me that’s one of the cool things about this class. Everybody has to work together on shore and out there, and it’s good for adults and kids to mix in like that. We see it in our sport but not in one-on-one competition like this class.

There are a small number of situations where we have fathers and sons both competing, as we do here. We see that regularly in this class and the nice thing about it is you see them finishing a race and they’re talking to each other as two competitors, not father telling child something – it’s great to build that rapport.

How’s the growth of the Laser classes?

SC: The Laser is generally still holding steady in North America which I think is a positive thing as some fleets are really struggling. We’re very even and I think our regatta turnouts have been very good.

The 4.7 seems to be growing in areas, other than So Cal, where there’s more wind. Kids tend to go from whatever they’ve been sailing on – a Sabot or an Opti - straight into a Radial in areas where it’s not super windy, and the 4.7 in areas like the Bay Area or Corpus but it’s still not anywhere near as big as in Europe where you get 300 4.7s show up at a regatta.

Racing continues through Sunday. Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

EARLY LEAD FOR DOUBLE-HANDERS IN PAC CUP FLEET

With more than half the 2012 Pac Cup fleet now en route to Hawaii, albeit slowly, the remaining racers are not chomping at the bit to get off the dock, given the dour wind pattern that has plagued the early starters and the not-so-great outlook for the next day or so.

As of 1300 hours PDT on Wednesday, as predicted, the lead boats were those taking a more northerly route. Currently leading is Jamani, the J-120 from San Francisco skippered by Sean Mulvihill and crew Jeff Mulvihill, with a mere 215 nm under their belts in almost 48 hours since their start on Tuesday.

Naos 30, the Beneteau 1st from Los Angeles, skippered by Charles Devanneaux and crew Frederic Courouble, had tucked away 192 nm in the same period, while in third, Moonshine, the Dog Patch 26 crewed by Dylan Benjamin and Rufus Sjoberg had sailed 183 nm.

Jamani and Moonshine, further north than Naos 30, were making between 6-7 knots, while Naos was maintaining a steady 5.5 knots.

Skip McCormack, navigator on Double Trouble leaves for his 9th west coast to Hawaii race on Thursday with the Div E boats.

“It’s unfortunate that the way that these things work with the staggered starts is that you generally have winners and losers right off the bat,” McCormack commented. “Unfortunately those earlier starts are showing again, just as they did in 2010, they’re just struggling to get around and through that low that eventually shut the door on them. It’s a real struggle out there - the buoy reports are showing absolute still calm conditions right outside the Gulf of the Farallones. It’s just a bummer and I feel pretty bad for those guys.”

While the fact will be beaten to death that the conditions we’re seeing at the start of this race are far from typical, what’s more frustrating is that the race is being held a few weeks later than usual, at a time when summer coastal conditions should be well and truly set up.

“It was really unexpected that it would be this bad but the upper atmosphere is just not settled right now,” McCormack said, “It’s really very jumbled and that’s created a couple of opportunities for surface level junk to show up. It looks like everything will start recompressing against the coast by later this week and a clearing breeze all the way through.”

This will lend a nice advantage to the last boats scheduled to leave at 2:45pm on Thursday.

“That’s the way it goes,” McCormack said. “We got the roll of the dice this year, just as we got left on the first start in 2010, we’ve been there. And, that’s just off the gate, then we’ve got to put the hammer down and do some work against some really good teams - there are some incredible boats sailing with us.”


McCormack never tires of racing to Hawaii, in fact he's taken it a step further this year, retiring his corporate job to become a professional navigator. “I took it to heart when they said you have to do what you love,” McCormack joked, “It’s pretty neat and I’m having a pretty good time right now - LOL!”

Meanwhile, there’s not been too much chat or blog activity from the boats probably because there’s not been too much happening other than sitting out the light air.

Andy Brainard, crew on the J/35 Brainwaves, reported that they were happy with their Tuesday start, “We had a great start, we stayed away from the traffic at the other end of the line and managed to cross with speed and clear air. Although we didn’t win the “first under the bridge” prize, we claim we won the first past mile rock prize. It was nice sunny sailing, tons of dolphins and more whales than I’ve ever seen, and variable wind from 7-13 knots.”

After sunset he reported that the wind really died and that Brainwaves was doing 0.00kt speed over water, “The seas are so flat that we can’t even really use our ultra-secret swell drive.”

Weather guru Lee Chesneau said that the calm conditions are due to the very weak pressure gradient east of 130.

“Whether boats headed south or north they’re going to have a rough time of it when it comes to wind. At least by going north they’re eventually going to catch the wind quicker. It’s not going to be a race for early wind, even on Monday some of those guys are going to be struggling a little bit.

He expects that once the fleet gets away from the coast this afternoon, the sea breeze wont be that strong but there’ll be some. He quipped, "Then they go out into the weak gradient so their seamanship skills will be tested in light breeze for sure, especially overnight."

Pics compliments of Erik Simonson/pressure-drop.us
Pic 1: Committee boat Valis heads out toward the GG Bridge after Monday's start.
Pic 2: Skip McCormack & wife Jody also like to sail fast skiffs on SF Bay.
Pic 3: First start boats heading off to Hawaii in search of wind ... and sun.

EVENT WEBSITE: http://www.pacificcup.org

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

US College Sailor of the Year Wins Gorge Blowout

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association pulled off another of its infamous Gorge Blowout races today in conditions not quite the norm, with torturously light gusty air for the first part of the race, and eventually big breeze on as the competitors set down the second part of the race to finish at the Hood River Marina.

First place went to Chris Barnard, US 2012 College Sailor of the Year with a time of 2:48:24, second to Alexander Heinzemann (CAN) in 2:49:50, and Robert Davis (CAN) with 2:50:42 - an extremely tight finish over 18 miles of racing.

For Blowout veterans the lighter inconsistent breeze today was disappointing as it compromised the fear-of-death racing that Laser sailors seem to love about the Gorge. For the few Blowout newbies, the lighter air was probably a blessing, although some were surprised at just how big the swells on the Columbia River can get - not somewhere you want to bury the bow of a Laser. Overall, carnage was minimal and fun factor high.

21-year old Chris Barnard from Newport Beach, Calif., was psyched to win his first Blowout. He was in top form and race ready having just come off four weeks of competition sailing in Europe.

“I was really excited to do it,” Barnard said. “I came up here to do the North Americans and have heard about the legendary Blowout. I thought it’d be really fun to do a great warm-up event before the North Americans. It seemed like we had pretty close to ideal conditions and it was a lot of fun.”
Barnard just finished up his junior year at Georgetown University where he usually sails FJs and 420s. He says he gets a decent amount of Laser sailing in, and has been sailing Lasers since the beginning of high school. He’s got his sights set on an Olympic campaign for 2016, after he’s finished his senior year at college.

“It's days like this in the Gorge that makes Lasers one of the more fun boats to sail,” Barnard said. “You’re just playing around in the waves, although it hurts sometimes - its definitely a physically demanding boat but you get plenty of satisfaction when you come out on top on a really physical kind of boat.”

Clearly blessed with plenty of natural sailing ability, Barnard said he tried to so as much research as he could for this week’s racing in the Gorge.

“I wanted to have a good idea of where the shallow and deep parts of the river are, and where the current is,” Barnard explained. “Today I did my best to stay in shallow water while staying in the breeze and staying fast all the time. I had a bit of rough start for the first half and managed to grind my way back to get a hold on the lead about half way down the first run. I made a mistake and found myself back in the channel instead of hugging the shore so I had to consolidate my losses and get back to shore. There was a group of five of us dialed into the shore, they went back into the channel and I hugged the shore for a bit longer. Within about five minutes I had about two minutes of gap on everybody and that’s where I really made my big gain of the day.”

“For the second run the breeze was much more consistent and the current seemed much more even. It was easier for me to be conservative, stay close and I knew I didn’t have to win that leg. It was blowing much harder. It was a really good fleet out here so you just have to put the pedal down as hard as you can.”

As for the North American’s that start on Thursday, Barnard is out to win.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun regatta, my goal is to hopefully win the regatta - but there’s a solid group of guys here and they’re all going to be fast this week. It’ll be a tough event for sure.” -- Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327

Pic 1: Chris Barnard taking a break after first run of today's Blowout
Pic 2: Resting up half way down the Blowout track
Pic 3: Starting second half of run to finish at Hood River Marina

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm

Monday, July 16, 2012

And They’re Off to Hawaii

At 1:00pm today, Division A boats crossed the start of the 2070 nautical mile Pac Cup race from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. A report in shortly after the start from race committee boat Valis also sailing in Division A, stated that blustery conditions belied the predicted light weather off the California coast.

No Strings Attached (Baltic 37 skippered by Nick Salvador) won the unofficial race to the Golden Gate Bridge, with Valis close behind in second (Pacific Seacraft 44 helmed by Paul Elliott) and Cassiopeia (Islander 36 skippered by Kit Wiegman) third.
No Strings Attached gave up her lead position early on, pausing to replace her headsail with a smaller high tech blade responding to the weather conditions, a move that is expected to pay off.

Conditions were reported as cold, overcast and breezy with winds in the high teens. Competition was tight in Div A as boats worked their way out under the Golden Gate towards the Farallon Islands, the first waypoint en route to Hawaii.

Three divisions started today - Division A (six boats), and two double-handed Divisions D H 1 and D H 2 (each with five boats). Tuesday’s race start is at 1:30pm for nine Div B boats. Race starts continue through Thursday 19th, when the final group Div E boats will leave. -- Event website: http://www.pacificcup.org/



Pic 1: No Strings Attached
Pic 2: Valis
Pic 3: Cassiopeia

Sunday, July 15, 2012

DERICK VRANIZAN FAVORED FOR 2012 LASER NORTH AMERICANS

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association this week welcomes the Laser Class to the Columbia River Gorge for the 2012 North American Championships. The regatta is open to Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 sailors.

Considered one of the top racing venues in the country with spectacular vistas at every turn and a consistent warm windy breeze some 150 sailors have registered for the event, the high end of expectations in an Olympic year, says international Laser Class president Tracy Usher.

“It’s a great turnout,” Usher said. “As is becoming the norm, with 90 or so this event, Radials are the dominant fleet by a factor of two over Standards. In the 4.7s, 15 is a good turnout for this still fledgling fleet in North America, in contrast to the European Championship where they can pull down 300 easy.”

Derek Vranizan, 25, is considered the top US sailor competing in the Standard rig this week. Vranizan’s been Laser sailing for eight years. He started focusing on the Laser just out of college, and recently did his first Olympic campaign. He didn’t end up qualifying for 2012, but the opportunity was more than worthwhile, particularly competing in all the European regattas.

“The Perth World Championships wasn’t a great event for me,” Vranizan said. “I had some back issues and wasn’t in as good shape as I would have liked, but it was still a great experience.”

Vranizan says he is still ‘absolutely’ trying to reach that Olympic dream and after taking a break, will pick up the training pace later in the year.

“2016 is going to come around quick and you can’t really afford to take too much time off. When it’s time to start training again, it’s time to start. Unfortunately going down that road and having a full-time job is difficult,” Vranizen said. “You just have to set small goals in between little achievements building up to an event.”

Vranizan’s grateful that his real job as a metals commodities trader does give him a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to sailing.

Vranizan’s decision to sail the Laser was more of a natural progression after growing out of 420s and 470s. Sailing on his home turf in the Pacific Northwest, he was inspired by master sailors in the class like Carl Buchan as well as being able to race in the Gorge, one of his favorite spots to race.

He’s been racing the Laser North Americans on and off since his senior year in high school and while he’s not yet won an event (his best effort was 6th in 2008) he’s feeling confident.

“I’m feeling alright about this week - I’ve been more focused on work than sailing lately so I’m not in as good a shape as I’d like to be, but I’ve sailed every day this past week, I’m feeling pretty strong and my speed is up.”

Vranizan is coaching the Laser Performance Clinic for through Monday 16th, by which time he will have tried not to have shared too many of his trade secrets for Tuesday’s big event, the Laser Blowout - the infamous downwinder from Cascade Locks to Hood River.

“I’ll be trying for my third Laser Blowout title, that’ll be fun. I’m definitely stoked about that because it’s my favorite race in the world - I like going downwind way more than up!”


The Laser Blowout is Tuesday July 17. Racing runs Thursday July 19th through Sunday July 20th.

Event website: http://www.laser.org/index.php?option=com_helios&view=ShowEvent&eID=2327


1. Tracy Usher
2. Derick Vranizan with Rob Crane, Perth, Dec 2011
3. Tracy Usher ... in the lead

ABOUT COLUMBIA GORGE RACING ASSOCIATION
Based in Cascade Locks, Oregon, CGRA has been promoting small boat sailing events in the Gorge since 1996. Today, CGRA enjoys a reputation for excellence in regatta management and continues to host a growing number of premiere one-design regattas, national, North American, and world championships. Over the last 15 years, we have hosted more than 50 major competitions. As participation grows for sailing in the Columbia River Gorge, the CGRA is expanding its efforts to support the overwhelming interest. Thanks to individual and corporate generosity, we hope to add equipment, staff, volunteers, and other resources. To volunteer or contribute, please visit: http://www.cgra.org/Support_us.htm

Thursday, July 12, 2012

GOT YOUR LEIS LOADED? Countdown to Pac Cup 2012

46 boats racing in the 17th edition of the Pacific Cup will leave from the San Francisco city front (off the St Francis Yacht Club) at noon on Monday July 16, sailing under the famed Golden Gate Bridge to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The 2070 nautical mile race runs every even year.

A staggered start from July 16 through July 20 will see the slower boats take the line first, followed by the rest of the fleet throughout the week. Even so, an early start may not be enough of an advantage for the slower boats.

Andy Costello, skipper and owner of the very competitive J125 Double Trouble, is racing Pac Cup for the first time and has taken a glimpse at the long range forecast, “We’ve started to look at the weather and it’s looking better for our start later in the week than it is for the earlier starts, so that may help us get to Hawaii faster.”

Like Costello’s going to need much help, stacked as his boat is with accomplished Hawaii racers, including Skip and Jody McCormack, Matt Noble and Trevor Baylis. Nonetheless, Costello’s playing it cautious after a disappointing experience in last year’s Trans Pac race. After months of ocean prepping Double Trouble, just three days into that race something broke that he never thought would break. They had to turn back.

“The issue was totally unexpected so we decided it was best to go through the whole structure of the boat this time to make sure it wont happen again,” Costello said.

As for most Pac Cup racers, the preparation - both boat and crew - is daunting. “It’s been a six month project,” Costello said. “We’ve double checked, modified, strengthened the boat, found new ways to get weight off the boat - we’ve done a lot but when you sail with crew like mine, they really prepare.”

Even veterans like 8-time racer Jim Antrim agree that preparations are endless. Antrim’s racing on California Condor, an Antrim Class 40. “It’s just an awful lot of work to prepare, no matter how you feel like the boat is ready. It just goes on and on. Just a couple of days ago we had the boat at a fuel dock at Berkeley Marine and a guy came in, broke his tiller off and t-boned us. The damage wasn’t too bad but it was just one more thing.”

Antrim and crew raced California Condor on her maiden Pac Cup race in 2010, but had a miserable time after the rudders broke, limping to the finish after a few days of sailing with a drogue and jury-rigged rudder. He’s hoping for better success this year although he’s disappointed with their rating.

“My expectation is that Double Trouble will win our division. Our rating is harsh and theirs is good. Their boat is also really well sailed. Medusa (Santa Cruz 52) has some really good people on it. They may do real well also,” Antrim said.

A big change this year is that race boats will be able to make their daily position reports by email, text message, or phone call using a satellite phone to a central number, rather than SSB. Organizers have also engaged Yellow Brick, a position tracking company new to Pac Cup.

This year’s fleet is a tad lighter than usual but Pacific Yacht Club staff commodore Michael Moradzadeh says it’s not a bad thing. “46 is a good crowd - you end up with a richer community experience because the group is manageable in the space that we have.”

And everyone knows that they’re in for the party of a lifetime once they pull up at the dock at the Kaneohe Yacht Club…

Known for it’s appeal to the racer/cruiser crowd, Pac Cup numbers are up this year in the “mom/pop” entries, and lighter than usual in the more serious racing crowd, says Antrim, a member of the race technical committee and ratings chairman.

Two of the bigger entries are Andromeda, the Swan 59 skippered by Antonio Luttmann (Mexico), and Icon, the Perry 66 skippered by Ian Sloan. Taking up the slack on the other end of the scale is Moonshine, a Dog Patch 26 double-handed by Dylan Benjamin and Rufus Sjoberg, the Express 27 Magic skippered by Mike Reed, and the Antrim 27 E.T., skippered by Tony English.

The Skippers' Meeting is on July 14, 2 pm, at the Berkeley Yacht Cub, followed at 5pm with the Bon Voyage party.

For information on the 2012 Pacific Cup and race tracking, visit: http://pacificcup.org/

Pic 1: Double Trouble, skippered by Andy Costello
Pic 2: Andy Costello & his 3 sons Andrew, Nicholas & Sean
Pic 3: Jim Antrim, naval architect & boat designer
Pic 4: Michael Moradzadeh, staff commodore Pacific Cup Yacht Club

Pac Cup 2012 says a big thank you to its sponsors:
GOLD
Sonnen BMW
Weems & Plath
SILVER
Bay Marine
Lee Chesneau's Marine Weather
Svendsen's Boat Works
BRONZE
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Passage Yachts
Landfall
Livestream
West Marine
KKMI
ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNER
Sealife Conservation
OFFICIAL VENDORS
Pirates Lair
CONTRIBUTORS
Mt Gay Rum
Weather Routing Inc.
OMIA

Sunday, July 1, 2012

LOUIS VUITTON ACKNOWLEDGED FOR CONTRIBUTION TO SAILING


The America’s Cup Hall of Fame induction gala held during the America’s Cup World Series in Newport, RI, was a night of both celebration and tribute not only to the three inductees, Patrizio Bertelli, Gerard Lambert and Jonathan Wright, but also to Louis Vuitton’s long time involvement in the America’s Cup.

It was in September 1983, in Newport, that Louis Vuitton awarded the Louis Vuitton Cup to the best challenger for the first time - to Australia II, the first Challenger to ever win the America’s Cup. Marble House, the former Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, was the site where Australia II accepted the Louis Vuitton Cup, and the site for this year’s Hall of Fame gala hosted by Louis Vuitton and the Herreshoff Marine Museum,

“The America’s Cup Hall of Fame is something we have enjoyed supporting over the years,” Yves Carcelle, President and CEO of Louis Vuitton said. “It is wonderful to see so many friends and champions who have contributed to the Challenger movement and the America’s Cup be recognized through this important institution."

Tom Whidden, member of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame since 2004 and CEO of North Marine Group, speaking with gratitude to those present of Louis Vuitton and its 29-year long support of the America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Races, said it all in just a few words:

“We appreciate all you do for the sport - you’re the best."

In appreciation of Louis Vuitton’s support, Dyer Jones, CEO of the Herreshoff Museum and Chairman of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame selection committee presented Carcelle with a half model of the 1903 America’s Cup Defender Reliance, the largest America’s Cup yacht ever built.

For more information on this year’s inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame: http://www.lvtrophy-wsta.com/media/mailing/?id=3



* Pic 1: Yves Carcelle accepts half model of Reliance.
* Pic 2: Long time pals & competitors in the business of high fashion, Yves Carcelle and Patrizio Bertelli.
* Pic 3: Looking good at the Marble House - L to R: Stan Honey (Director of Technology, 34th America's Cup), Gary Jobson (President US Sailing), Russell Coutts (CEO, Oracle Racing and 4 times America's Cup winner), and Yves Carcelle.
* Pic 4: America’s Cup icon Bruno Trouble stands before Louis Vuitton trunks dating back to 1893 and 1895, ordered by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Trouble recently discovered the trunks in the attic of The Breakers and connected them to the prominent family who also had a strong tie with the America's Cup.

Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, grandson of Vanderbilt II successfully defended the America's Cup in 1930, in the J-class yacht Enterprise; in 1934 in his yacht Rainbow he won three races in a row to defend the Cup; and in 1937 he won in Ranger, the last of the J-class yachts to defend the Cup.


Photo Credit: Bob Grieser