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This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49
Photos by Jan Walker
2004 Star North Americans, an essay
…More than just a sailboat race
While some may think that defying the sailboat racing status quo implies sailing hard and drinking lots at the tent, it is good to know there are still the old school folks who know how to race hard and know how to enjoy a good time, yet are able to combine them in a gracious fashion that defies the status and age.
Enter Boston Harbor Star Fleet at Cottage Park Yacht Club. Joe Zambella dropped a silent bomb on the fleet a year ago – the class needed a host for the 2004 North Americans that may have a “scheduling problem” due to Athens events. Never one to decline a party invitation, the fleet took only a couple of hours to ponder and accept the challenge.
|Cottage Park Yacht CLub |
Enter Gary MacDonald, a long time member of the fleet and the class who has little knowledge of racing anything else but the Star. He spent over 30 years in the Star, and he knows the standards for the class events. He took those old Star Class manuals, dusted them off and rewrote the book, chairing the event, and spearheading the volunteer effort.
Registration started with a glossy production, a booklet full of information, history, welcome letters, a course chart, tidal information, detailed competitor list, and introductions to the race committee and event organizers. The book was packed into a Harken kevlar document pouch, which should come in handy in a knife or sword attack. The event’s hats and t-shirts rounded out the first impressions at the registration.
|Leaving the dock |
The club opened its doors to the sailors – all doors. You will not strain your neck peeking in shiny rooms to discover a wedding reception while you are looking for your jib in your spiffy wetsuit. The gym, the sauna room, the bar with $3 Guinness drafts, the dining rooms, television, VCR, docks, the entire parking lot, the grill on the deck, was all surrendered to the sailors for the week. The members also opened their homes and hosted sixty percent of the racers who traveled from four continents.
Long time supporters of the Boston Harbor Star Fleet and the Star Class, Philip Marks and Keane, Incorporated sponsored the event. There were two photographers, a huge spectator boat daily, ice cold beer 200 yards from the finish line, daily photo updates, daily lunch packs, and many things behind the scenes that make things happen.
Each night after racing there was an event at the club, ranging from classy dinners, open bars, Texas BBQ, burgers and dogs on the back deck, and an old-fashioned New England lobster and clambake. Fleet and Club members prepared and served most of the dinners, and the Vice Commodore, also a local lobsterman, provided fresh crustaceans for the clambake.
And now to the racing:
It was a little cold for an August event. With the westerly and southeasterly breezes, the action never stopped. It was not a drifter by any means and only one morning’s tow on the last day was in perfect timing with a filling 12-knot sea breeze laying the playground for the last race. The racing was tight; going into the final race, there was a 6 point difference for the first four positions in the regatta and another 12 points for the next 5 positions. Considering the 20 and 30-degree shifts that the competitors had for the previous three days, and the usual three different tidal conditions between the bottom and top marks, nothing was impossible.
The race conditions were tough but the race committee led by Franny Charles and Tom Duggan were tougher, quickly adjusting the courses as needed. As a result, throughout the event, there was neither a single beat nor a single run, which ended up as a single tack or single gybe leg. Franny and Tom rustled a crew of over 38 volunteers to help on the water, nearly half of which were avid and active Star racers. The few protests, and the redress requests were resolved quickly, fairly and in accordance with the class rules.
|CPYC Race Committee |
While the cream of the crop were agonizing in Athens, very strong teams came to race in Boston with many sailors fresh from the 2004 US Olympic trials setting the tone and the pace.
Ben Cesare and Doug Brophy started the regatta with a bang but the fleet adapted to the local conditions quickly and John McCausland and Brian Fatih together with Karl Anderson and Magnus Liljedahl came back in force and pressed to the top.
|Szabo/Sharp lead MacCausland/Fatih |
There were many brand new crew and skipper combinations but you couldn’t tell from the job they were doing on the course. The tidal strategies had to change in the middle of a race because the low time was around 12-1 p.m. By that time the sea breeze effects would also start playing role and what worked on the first beat would stop working for the second beat.
Laying out a simple game plan and committing to a side seemed to be the safest option and it was reflected in McCausland/Fatih’s winning score with only a single bullet. George Szabo and Brian Sharp joined forces on a whim when Szabo learned he could not substitute crew for the first two races. They showed great speed and smart sailing out of the docks but at times were punished as much as others by the tricky conditions.
|Champions Brian Fatih and John MacCausland with Peter Costa |
During Monday night’s mid-regatta banquet, the competitors honored Star Class legends Bill Buchan and Joe Duplin. Many years ago Bill Buchan beat Paul Cayard by less than a point to go the Olympic games and bring home the Gold. Joe Duplin, CPYC’s most storied sailor, brought a Star World Championship back to the home club in the 60s. It was a moving night in the hall of the club with dark wood beams reflecting the light and the quiet memory of the moment.
Congratulations to the competitors, Cottage Park Yacht Club, Boston Harbor Star Fleet and to everyone involved in making this a memorable event. Those who couldn’t attend missed a good one.
The regatta was a classy story for what competitive sailors’ events should be. The sailors thank you for writing it.
|Bill Buchan and Joe Duplin |
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