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1990 - 2001 North American Championship - Regatta Reports

1990 North American Championship - Winthrop, Massachusetts
Regatta Results

Some of the world’s best sailors competed out of the Cottage Park Yacht Club in Boston, MA, USA, in the 1990 North American Championship, as sponsored by NYNEX. Even with the World Championship to be held in Cleveland a month later, no one expected the caliber of sailor who attended this North American’s to be so high. Out of the fifty boats on the starting line, twenty of the skippers combined to hold three Star World, five Hemisphere , nine Continental Championships, and four Olympic Medals. Seven of the participating sailors had earlier won the North American Championship, so the silver was truly being contested for.

    The event organizers did an exceptional job. A corporate sponsor NYNEX was proud to be the title sponsor of the regatta. Other sponsors, as Anhueser Busch, Bacardi, and Chelsea Clocks of Boston, contributed greatly to the event. The Club provided a top-notch Race Committee and recruited a seasoned International Jury. Regional clubs also helped in providing support. Both the Boston and Eastern Yacht Clubs provided Race Committee and patrol boats. The entertainment was first-rate, highlighted by a dinner cruise and a trip to the Museum of Science. Even the weather managed to cooperate, despite torrential downpours for both of the measurement and tune-up race days, good racing conditions prevailed for all five of the scheduled racing days.

    The Race Committee showed its resolve to provide exceptional racing on the first day. Following two general recalls, the fleet got off in a 5-10 knot, southeast, sea breeze. Half way up the over two mile first beat, the wind shifted forty degrees to the right and the forecasted hazy, hot and humid southwester began to fill-in. The Race Committee immediately abandoned the race and restarted within an hour as the breeze settled in at 210 degrees with varied velocities between 7-12 knots. This race was won wire-to-wire by Brazilians Gastao Brun and Andre Lekszycki, who showed excellent gear changing speed and thehabit of being at the best of speed. These proved to be important abilities as the week of racing progressed. Passing Rockport, MA, sailors John Safford and Joe Chambers for second across the line were Canadian Olympians Ross and Bruce Macdonald, who were PMS to leave second place in the first race to Safford and Chambers. Canadian Olympic hopefuls Don Campbell and contenders, Vince Brun, Peter Wright and Torben Grael were also over early.

    The second day was a winner for everybody as the “Triple H” weather was pushed out by the first strong cold front of the season. Two races were scheduled for this day and the Race Committee did not squander the opportunity. In a shifty 10-15 knot northwester, Vince Brun matched his brother’s first race. With crew Allen Ledbetter, Vince played the shifts beautifully on the first leg to round in first place and never look back. A fierce battle followed between Joe Londrigan and Mark Busch, from Chicago, the Macdonalds, Gastao Brun and Andre Lekszycki, and rookie Star sailors Tony Rey and Bam Bam Williams, of Newport, RI for the next four places in the second race.

    The breeze and beautiful sunshine held for th rest of the afternoon as the third race of the series was handily won by the true speedsters of the regatta. Olympic Medalists from Brazil Torben Grael and crew Marcelo Ferreira showed excellent speed as they led through the shifts and the changing velocities. Two time World’s runner-up Peter Wright and crew Greg Cook, from Chicago, held-off a tightly packed third through sixth place to take second in front of Continental Champion John A. MacCausland and Tod Raynor of Cherry Hill, NJ, World Champion Ed Adams and George Iverson of Newport, RI, and the two Canadian boats of Macdonald and Campbell respectively.

    The northerly held for one more day and Grael and Ferreira put on a great show once again. After rounding the first weather mark in twelfth, they picked off three boats on each reach and then played two shifts in the first half of the second beat to pass two more. The last half of the second beat was tremendously exciting as Don Campbell tried to stay ahead of the Macdonalds, Gastao Brun and the rapidly closing Grael. As the breeze lightened up and became increasingly erratic, the group was very conservative to avoid any big shifts that might cause them to fall out of the pack. This tactic by the leading boats suited Grael and Ferreira perfectly as they steadily closed the gap with pure boat speed. As the leading pack rounded the top mark for the finishing run, Campbell was in the lead by 25 yards. The next three boats rounded within five boat lengths of each other. Brun went right, while Macdonald and Grael jibed and went left. Campbell played the middle and, then, slid toward Brun to cover the regatta leader. This move was a heartbreaker for Campbell, as Grael won the race followed by Macdonald, with Brun nipping Campbell for third at the finish.

    The clear air and breeze essentially evaporated and Thursday was again hay, hot and humid with a light breeze for the fifth race of the series. Peter Wright and Greg Cook played the spotty breeze perfectly and handily won the race over a very spread out fleet. Vince Brun with Allen Ledbetter finished second followed by locals Ron Sandstrom and Jeff Bresnhan. The potential for large scale mix-up of the series standings occurred when a number of contenders, including Grael, MacCausland, Campbell, dams, Reynolds and Beashel all received a PMS for the fifth race. Ed Adams protested the ruling on the grounds that the X flag had not been raised quickly enough and all were reinstated. Then, not surprisingly, Vince Brun, Ross Macdonald and others filed protests on the basis they had been prejudice by the others having started early. After condisderation the end result was that the fleet was scored as if the boats that were PMS had not sailed, and the PMS boats received their average points from the previous four races. Within the decision, Gastao Brun and Andre Lekszycki, of Brazil, were leading the series with the next six boats within striking distances. The good news for Gastao Brun was that the sailing of the sixth and final race would allow a discard race for everyone. His worst race was then a ninth and those, especially Grael, who had a PMS averaged into their fifth race score had their work cut out for them going into the final race.

    A very light southerly met the fleet on Friday as the final race of the Championship got off. Australians Colin Beashel and David Giles led the right side of the course to round first with John MacCausland, Vince Brun, Peter Wright, Ander Menkart and Torben Grael in close pursuit. The left side of the course did not pay, and the Macdonalds and Gastao Brun struggled around in eighteenth and twentieth positions. The field had become use to the conditions and was staying very tightly packed. As Macdonald and Brun struggled to climb in the fleet, the leading five were chasing Beashel around the second weather mark, led by Wright in second and Grael who had climbed into third place. On the run Grael and Ferreira began their magic. Beashel was overrun and rounded the last mark in fifth, while Grael rounded first with Wright, MacCausland and Vince Brun right behind. With the Macdonalds in fourteenth their chances looked grim. Gastao Brun rounded the last mark in seventeenth and was obviously sailing his throw-out race. The Grael and Ferreira team took the sixth race win impressively while Peter Wright remained in second, to be followed by John MacCausland, Colin Beashel and Vince Brun.

    Their third race win was not enough for Grael and Ferreira to win the regatta. The extremely consistent performance of Gastao Brun and Andre Lekszycki gave them their first North American Championship. Peter Wright and Greg Cook placed second, while the winners of three of the six races, Grael and Ferreira, finished in third. The event was a great contest for all of the fifty Star teams. Those who used the regatta as a warm-up for the World Championship in Cleveland the next month certainly got an excellent feel for the speed and consistency necessary to win the event.

1991 North American Championship - Chicago, Illinois
By Annie Wessex
Regatta Results

For those on the terrace of Sheridan Shores Yacht Club, the daily sight of the forty boat fleet short-tacking its way up and down the narrow Wilmette Harbor channel to Lake Michigan was an exhilarating display of precision crew work, boat handling, and buoyant camaraderie. For those on the forty boats from twenty one fleets and five countries who were luffing, ducking, and hailing their way up and down the channel, the daily sight of the cheering crowds on the terrace must have brought to mind the ancient spectacle of Roman chariot races. And for Finlandia Vodka and J&B Scotch, proud sponsors of the regatta, the venue, the crowds, and the weather all combined to make this the yachting event of the season.

At a time of year more properly characterized by strong, steady northerners, or small, predictable shifts, the 41st annual North American Championships were run in what may 4h District veterans labeled some of the shiftiest conditions in recent memory. Said eventual regatta winner Joe Londrigan modestly, “It was a real vrap-shoot out there. Anybody could have walked away with all the marbles,” Indeed! And with the Olympics just around the corner, most of the top dogs were warily looking sizing each other up, for any weakness that might appear in their opponents’ programs.

Come Sunday morning, all bets were off, as Bob Van Wagnen and Chris Nielson snagged a huge backing shift shortly after the start of the first race. Rolling out of the left side like a runaway freight train, they executed a perfect port tack approach and bear away at the weather mark, then were out the door before the rest of the fleet knew what hit them. “I couldn’t believe my luck!” Van Wagnen later remarked. At the leeward pin, the rest of the fleet was still playing follow the leader, but Harry Melges and Fred Stritt, and Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel were closing fast.

As the breeze settled in, and the fleet settled down, the big boys went to work, picking off boats like ducks in a shooting gallery. Off the breeze, the jury boats were sorely tested as many skippers pushed hard to find the exact limitations of Rule 54. When it was all over, and the smoke had cleared, Ed Adams and Tom Olsen in the yellow boat from Newport had rung the bell and won the prize. Stacked up behind them were Melges and Stritt, Sandstrom and Bresnahan, Reynolds and Haenel.

Monday the breeze was up, and a slight shift just before the gun left the Committee boat slightly favored. Hot from yesterday’s second. Melges and Stritt came swooping down from behind the Committee boat in a 15 knot puff looking for an opening. It was a textbook maneuver, but Harry’s thrust was parried, as Melges not only fouled the boat immediately to leeward, but tore his main against the competitor’s spreader as well. Exhibiting the Corinthian spirit and respect for the rules, which makes the Star Class the premier one-design class in the world, Melges graciously withdrew.
Few who sail these high performance yachts are unfamiliar with the eerie whine of the wind in the rigging. For those on the right side of the course, it was not the whistle of the wind they heard, but the sound of a ten thousand hurt-hammer descending upon their hopes. The left side was solid all day, the anticipated afternoon veer never materialized, and those who went right were left holding their tillers while those on the left sailed by in greater velocity and more favorable wave action. At the finish line it was Joe Londrigan and Mark Busch, followed by Kimo Worthington and George Iverson, Reynolds and Haenel, Adams and Olsen.

Back at the beer truck, the crews could be seen carbo-loading, as they struggled to replace precious bodily fluids worked off during the race. And the skippers, masters of the two-handed sailor’s  hand-jive, could be seen demonstrating how they had brilliantly maneuvered , or had been robbed.

It was heavy skies and heavier breezes Tuesday morning, as boats fought the rolling seas out to the starting area. Half an hour before the start, the adrenaline level was pegged as the sailors planned by the Committee boat in 18 knots of wind. But the promise of heavy air was an empty one: the cloud cover broke and the breeze began to die just minutes before the gun.

The countdown, the approach, then puff of smoke: bang, zoom, and then, for Olympic Silver Medalists Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel, “twang!” Immediately after they had won the favored pin end, their starboard lower shroud broke, the rig began to pump wildly, and they were forced to withdraw. Vince Brun and Gary Applebaum, hiking hard just to weather off the disabled yacht, seized the moment and popped ahead quickly, followed by Bill Buchan and Mark Brink.

The fleet quickly split, with Brun and Buchan heading left, while Worthington and John A. MacCausland with Tod Raynor lead the charge to the right. Halfway up the first beat, the breeze backed slightly, and Brun slammed onto port on top of the fleet. Suddenly the bottom dropped out for Brun, Buchan, and everyone else who had headed left. Unnoticed by all, the weather mark had drifted far to the right in the strong winds and rolling seas. The right side was now grossly favored, as some boats from the left were forced to broad reach across to the first pin. Around the weather end it was John A. MacCausland, followed by Worthington, Joe Londrigan, Bill Parks and Mike La Porte, and New Zealanders Rod Davis and Don Cowie.
The top boats continued to stretch out their lead throughout the first triangle as the breeze died. Up, then back down again in light airs and sloppy seas. Around the leeward pin, MacCausland opted to cover Worthington, who headed left. Third around were Londrigan and Busch, who worked that old magic for the second time as they play the shifts and the chop perfectly on the right side of the course. When MacCausland, who had led for the first five marks, went to cash in at the finish line, he found that the check had already been signed over to Joey Londrigan the boy from Wilmette harbor. MacCausland took second, Worthington third, and Davis grabbed the fourth.

Day four, 10-12 knots but dying, and 2 foot seas. In what was clearly the cheekiest opening gambit of the entire regatta, Rob Maine and Howard Ferguson successfully port tacked the entire fleet, steering yacht Mr. Boffo to the far right side of the course in search of thermals and lift from the shoreline. But Wright went left, and it was “Hasta-la-bye-bye” for the rest of the day. Local strongman Peter Wright and crew Greg Kook picked a peck of perfect puffs, hooked into a left shift, and never looked back.

1992 North American Championship - Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
By Harry Webster Walker
Regatta Results

    The 1992 North American Championship was hosted by the Detroit River Fleet and held at the exceptional Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.

    The actual field of thirty-four Stars was a bit of a disappointment for the hosting Fleet and Club, as sixty-five boats had been looked for and fifty-four had entered. Grosse Pointe Yacht Club – certainly one of the most beautiful and luxurious in the United States, -- was built in 1929, just before our great depression, had organized with not only excellent dry stall facilities, but with social events every other night – including sightseeing tours, a tennis tournament and museum visits for the non-contestants.

    Speaking of tennis – a highlight after the third race saw Vince Brun and Mike Dorgan play against Ron Sandstrom and Tony Rey! Wimbleton it wasn’t!

    The Opening Ceremony featured a talk by the Commodore, Charles E. Strumb, Jr., and various local officials added their welcomes. Ed Palm, the Race Committee Chairman, spoke, and a representative of Tiffany’s displayed the prizes to be awarded, and then each competitor was presented with a small, silver box.

    The planned tune-up race, unfortunately, was cancelled for lack of wind, but everyone was now geared for the real thing. The first race – and the selected race course was about five miles from the Club’s man-made harbor— was held in four to eight knot winds and the “sweetwater chop” for which Lake St. Clair is famous. Steep chop comes from all directions and is intensified by lots of power boats speeding by.

    John A. MacCausland with George Iverson up front beat-out Ross Adams, with Joe Londrigan taking third. Father Tom Londrigan was not as fortunate as his son, being the only boat called PMS. Chief Race Officer Tom Adams had set a good line and those who went left made out the best in the first three-quarters of the race. Towards the last a shift to the right aided those who were two-thirds of the way down in the fleet and who had gone right. Daily prizes were awarded at the beer and pizza party at the hospitality tent. John said of his win, “Got a good start, went fast, and had good enough equipment and ‘Big George’ up front.”

    Race two found another sparkling sea and another two knots of breeze— with fewer holes. Ross Adams went hard right, and with good boat speed, soon had the fleet in his pocket. Joe Londrigan and Phil Trinter came in second followed by Robbie Maine and his new boat. This made first, second, third for the day for current or former Wilmette Harbor Fleet members. This particular evening we enjoyed a sumptuous, Door County “fish boil” on the front lawn of the Club – a traditional party in Michigan. There was food galore and boiled sturgeon was featured. We also had a warning by Chief Judge Lynn Steadman about Rule 54. The International Jury felt that too many mast tips were moving unnecessarily – chop or no chop. Mark Reynolds arrived from Spain on his way to San Diego – and this modest Gold and Silver Medalist shared some time and thoughts with us. What a great Champion!

    The third race day saw hazy skies and light air. Those sailing out around him were well- entertained by past-President Bill Parks singing opera. A talented bunch. With severe thunderstorms in the area, Chief Race Officer Tom Adams postponed immediately after the ten-minute gun. Soon sails came down— heavy rain— and the day blown away as we were towed in. A good decision!  That night most of us forgot Star racing and went by chartered bus to a Detroit Tigers vs. Texas Rangers baseball game. Lots of hits, several home runs including a Conseco blast to the top of Riger Stadium – much peanuts, hot dogs, nachos, and beer – a fun evening.

    Wednesday was set up as a double-header to cover for yesterday’s no race. The five mile sail out was in light and hazy weather. Just before the start it began to pipe up and became a full-fledged, heavy weather thriller. Ron Sandstrom and Mike Marcel won followed by young MacCausland and Iverson. Third went to Ross Adams and Chuck Nevel. This race featured three masts down and the absolute flattening of Phil Graves and Steve Dietrich at the weather mark. As Phil tells it, a wave caught the chine – no vang – and the next thing he knew his mast and his sail were flat in the water and his crew forty feet away. After thirty seconds or so the boat righted and Phil picked up Steve and proceeded. They finished twenty-fourth. In a collision in the first race, Star 6977 sailed by Jo Hartingh was holed and the boat almost sank. Later she did sink, was recovered but further damaged in towing and lifting.

    Perhaps the three happiest people at days end were Ross Adams and Chuck Nevel, who were leading the series – and Doctor Tony Herrmann, who finally passed a kidney stone! All of that jouncing and bouncing ended with the firth of painful object and Tony is his old smiling self once more – which pleased Mark Sokolich, his crew. The Committee had a marvelous Western – served in the immense ballroom of the Yacht Club – and many were amazed at how much the behemoth crews and certain old skippers can eat. Again the dailies were awarded and the organizers were applauded for a delightful evening – complete even to a lovely, western singer. At the end of four races,  with throw out – Ross Adams and Chuck Nevel lead with 8.7 points over Joe Londrigan and Phil Trinter with 11.7 points. In the Masters, it’s Hans Fogh and John Mitchele at 5.7 points over Tony Herrmann and Mark Sokolich with 11.4 points. The weather man calls for more big winds and thunderstorms tomorrow. Let’s hope he is wrong!

     Thursday dawned grey and rainy. By race time the wind had gone down to 8-10 knots and the sun was out. A big front had been held off another day.  The fleet got off to a good, clean start with one-third going left and the majority hard right. The right was the favored tack and at the top they led the fleet. The reaches again saw Tony Rey and Anson Stookey pick up six places – they fly on those reaches! Those who went hard right on the second upwind were buried as a big shift came in that favored those on the left. Terrible to drop fifteen boats in one leg – the writer knows!  The run enjoyed more breeze but few place changes. Jack Dollahite lost much – his spar downwind and later blamed himself – not the crew or a fitting – for “sleeping while driving.” The last leg was best for those up in the middle and Londrigan- Trinter got the gun followed by Sandstrom- Marcel in second, and Brun-Dorgan third – which could have had an important impact on the standings. Result – a protest was disallowed and Joe Londrigan and Phil Trinter now lead Ross Adams and Chuck Nevel. The evening activities were centered in the Village of Grosse Pointe, with merchants having special displays and a street band provided the music.

    The final day again came up grey and rainy and windy. A monster cold front with thunderstorms, heavy rains, and more wind was predicted for shortly after the planned the start of the race. The Committee called for boats in the water at once, but also with a hold on “go” or “no go”. Only one boat left the harbor – Vince Brun, who stand fourth – when the decision was made. Three guns – no race – and they guys around the launched boats made a loud cheer. Joe Londrigan got the traditional swim as did his 275-pound crew, Phil Trinter. Tony Herrmann, who took the Masters section of the event, refused to be dunked claiming his M. D. status had a fear of “pneumonia”.  We all packed up early and endured super heavy rains during the afternoon. No race made it easy for all to be on time for the banquet. During cocktails, Gary Jobson showed an America’s Cup film. The prize giving dinner (including a nice ice sculpture of a Star jumping a wave) and presentations were elegant and in keeping with this lovely Club. Magnificent prizes, a beautiful ballroom, and great dance music – an exceptional evening!
Excellent organization, great Race Committee work, fine drying sailing, interesting water all combined with various weight winds came together to make the 1992 North American’s one of the best ever. Finally, with all of us in blazers and ties, we are a group who “clean-up” quite nicely.

1993 North American Championship - San Diego, California
By Neil MacDonald
Regatta Results

    The day after the first race of the 1993 North American’s, one of the local newspapers made much of the fact that six of the top seven spaces had gone to local sailors, or former locals, including Olympic Silber medalist and recent expatriate Brian Ledbetter. The paper had gone on to cite “local knowledge” as the probable factor in the outcome. This may be true; because of the shape of the California coast south of Los Angeles, the north to south current along the West Coast tends to form large eddies off of San Diego Bay. Furthermore, the waters off San Diego are exposed to the well sweeping in from the open Pacific. Both of these factors make steering and tactics quite tricky at times. However, attributing the first day’s race results entirely to “local knowledge” may be somewhat misleading.

    The San Diego Yacht Club, host for the event, has a deep tradition in Star Class history: such sailing notables as Lowell North, Malin Burnham, Dennis Conner, Gerry Driscoll, Jim and Mark Reynolds, Paul Cayard, Brian and Alan Ledbetter, and Vince Brun have all sailed Star boats off San Diego Bay, not to mention their various forays in the America’s Cup arena. Indeed, the fleets in the area between Los Angeles and San Diego, if taken as a whole, would represent one of the prime talent pools in contemporary sailboat racing.

    Most competitors believed that the tactical question, at least early in the week, was not which side of the course was favored, but how hard to hit the right hand corner. Howie Schiebler, a San Francisco Bay sailor well-known in the class, remarked after the regatta, “In a group like this, straight line boat speed is critical, since everyone generally has the same idea about where to go on the course. If you don’t have boat speed,  you’ve got a real problem.” One other “real problem” noted with universal dismay by competitors and race organizers alike was “Kelp Hell”’ huge clumps of the drifting plantlike which plagued competitors all week. Several Skippers, new to the area, made an early effort to try to gain by sailing through the patches, rather than tacking around them. One competitor moaned, “One moment we were crossing three boats, doing four knots upwind. The next moment, our boat had come to a complete standstill. It was like we had crashed into the dock.” The decision to try to sail through the kelp paddies was one generally made only once. Russ Silvestri and crew Marcus Maher, both new to the Class, were racing this year to prepare for the 1994 Star World’s Championship, also to be held in San Diego. “It was terrible. The kelp was so bad, we started using two kelp sticks,” laughed Silvestri ruefully.

    From day one, the International Jury gave notice that they would tolerate no nonsense on the race course. Reminiscent of the “on the water” juries seen at the America’s Cup last summer, judges Arthur Wullschlager and Canadian Livius Sherwood kept a close eye on the competitors from a small inflatable they drove through course, while Tom Ehman, Jr., Dave Kilponen, and Durwood Knowles of Nassau monitored the fleet from larger boats following the fleet or stationed at the marks. Along with the results of Saturday’s practice race were posted the names of those who, had the warm up been an actual race, would have been disqualified for various infractions (most prominently Rule 54, for rocking the boat on the downwind legs). This warning prior to the actual regatta served notice that all of the rules would be swiftly and impartially, irrespective of sailing pedigree. Remarked one well-known skipper, who had protested the committee for a PMS after leading the fleet to the weather mark early in the regatta, “I went into the protest committee looking for some sort of opening. They told me that they had spotters on both ends of the line, and boats above and below the line. Everyone was in radio contact with one another, and they all confirmed at the gun that I had been over early. End of story. I barely had time to sit down.”

    Typical of San Diego conditions at this time of year, winds remained within a 6-10 knot range throughout the week’ with the significant exceptions of the last races, the shifts were generally small and oscillating. Some leaders made their gains by getting off the line cleanly and then tacking as quickly as possible off towards the right side of the course. With a clear lane to the right, and out of the stronger current in the center and the left of the course, they banged the right corner, tacked and drag raced down the layline to the weather pin.

    Others taking advantage of the slowly oscillating shifts took small bites towards the center of the course, but again, heavily favoring the right side. With such light conditions overall, crews and skippers alike kept a watchful eye of the water’s surface in order to stay in the puffs. Boats separated by only a few yards turned out to have much different breezes, and those teams fortunate enough to be in even slightly greater velocity were able to reap big benefits. After having lead much of the 3rd race, 1986 Star World Champion and two-time North American title-holder Vince Brun and crew Mike Dorgan saw their lead slip away half way up the last beat. Rounding the leeward pin 41 seconds behind Brun and Dorgan, Olympic Medalist Mark Reynolds and two time World Champion crew Hugo Schreiner began the last beat by very slowly working to windward of the leaders.

    Over the next fifteen minutes, Reynolds and Schreiner separated enough that they were able to catch a finger of wind that didn’t reach down to Brun and Dorgan. When Brun and Dorgan realized what was happening, they tacked back to cover their opponent. By this time, however, Reynolds and Schreiner had slipped away, and having crossed Brun, tacked to place themselves firmly to weather of the former leader. Brun then initiated a quick series of tacks in an unsuccessful attempt to wriggle free of the cover. Close behind, a pair of Olympic medalists, John Kostecki (1988, Silver in the Soling class) and Ross Macdonald (1992, Bronze Star class) continued to grind away on the lead of the two professional sail makers. Wisely, and with an eye towards maintaining their overall finish standings, Reynolds and Brun broke off the engagement: at the line, Reynolds led Brun by 15 seconds.

    A considerable amount of pre-regatta media energy had been focused on Joe Londrigan’s attempt to become the first Star skipper in class history to win the North American title three years in a row. The Illinois transplant had won the event decisively in 1991, dominating the fleet in his home waters of Wilmette Harbor. Then, with Phil Trinter, a former college football tackle who was new to sailing, he went on to capture his second title in as many years in Detroit the following summer. Last October, the team finished second overall in an extremely tough 53-boat fleet at the Star World Championships, held in San Francisco. The regatta had come down to the last race, when a freak wind shift to the left on the first beat pushed the team of Carl Buchan and Hugo Schreiner ahead at the final gun.

    Londrigan and Trinter came up short this year. Along with eventual regatta winners Ross Macdonald and crew Eric Jespersen, Londrigan broke early for the line on Monday, at the start of race two. By Wednesday morning, that PMS, combined with a dying breeze on the left side of the course the preceding day, had made a third successive victory unlikely for Londrigan and Trinter. The Canadian team of Ross Macdonald and Eric Jespersen, on the other hand, had come back on Tuesday with a fourth-place finish, and then earned back-to-back bullets on Wednesday and Thursday. Those two had sailed together for the past two years, including an Olympic Star campaign which resulted in Bronze medals in Barcelona last summer. Prior to that, Jespersen’s Star boat experience had been limited to sailing his own home made Star in the early ‘80’s, a boat Macdonald referred to as a “limited production model – there was only the one!”

    True to form, the point spread had tightened considerably by the morning of the last race. Vince Brun and crew Mike Dorgan had taken an early regatta lead, but by race four, had seen that lead dwindle. By Thursday evening, Macdonald and Jespersen had moved ahead. 13.7 points separated the top five boats, and only 5.4 points separated the top three boats: Macdonald (22.0), Brun (25.0), and Reynolds (27.4), respectively.

    On Wednesday, and Thursday, both days that Macdonald and Jespersen had won races, they had opted to start at the committee boat despite a noticeable pin-end bias to the line. The two Canadians, quite talkative on the boat, shared a good deal of the responsibility for the tactical decisions. They had reasoned that the freedom to tack to the right side of the course when they felt it necessary, and the need for a clear lane on the long port tack drag race to the right side of the course, far outweighed any advantages the pin might offer. At the starting gun Friday morning, Macdonald and Jespersen therefore pushed hard to win the battle for the committee boat, while Brun and Dorgan elected to start at the pin end of the line. Reynolds and Schreiner started a few boats to leeward of the Canadians.

    Almost immediately after the start, Macdonald tacked to port. After several minutes of sailing Jespersen let Macdonald kno that they could probably cross everyone except Brun. They therefore decided to tack towards the mark short of the layline, to preserve their options should Brun and Dorgan decide to tack on their air. Brun crossed, and then tacked, driving the Canadians back to the right. Brun continued to push them right, back into the fleet, and t the weather pin, it was Brun, Reynolds, San Diegans Eric Doyle, crew Bill Bennett, and then Macdonald Jespersen.

    Along the first rach, Brun and Reynolds began taking each other up. As the two professional sail makers headed towards Hawaii, they were reported to be discussing advertising strategies for forthcoming issues of Starlights and The Star Log. Doyle and Macdonald wasted no time, however, working inside at the gybe mark, rounding first and second, respectively. At the leeward pin, Macdonald and Jespersen began to foot off slightly to work out underneath Doyle and Bennet. At this point, as he had done most of the week, Macdonald opted to play it conservatively, heading right while being attentive to the wind shifts. Several minutes into the second beat, however, the wind suddenly began to creep left, leaving Macdonald and Jespersen on the outside. The uncharacteristic left-hand shift, and increased velocity in the center of the course put those who had gone center and left well in front at the second weather mark, and by the leeward mark, the Canadians were well off the pace, having dropped to ninth place, rounding right behind the noted local sailors, the Camet brothers.

    Eric Doyle and crew Bill Bennett who had shown solid boat speed all week, had been leading since they moved ahead at the gybe mark. Reynolds rounded behind Doyle and in front of Brun, the three teams again heading to the right side of the course. The wind continued to oscillate. At the point, it appeared that Reynolds and crew Hugo Schreiner were well on their way to taking the regatta. Heading right, Doyle stayed inside and to weather of Reynolds and Brun, enjoying the benefits of clear air but remembering the lessons of the previous days’ races, maintaining a careful eye on both Reynolds and Brun. Macdonald and Jespersen, their chances of a North American Championship fading, had quickly tacked onto starboard to clear their air after turning the bottom corner. Almost immediately, however, the Canadians began to get lifted as they headed into a building breeze. It was then that they decided to hang it all out and just stay where the wind was, and decide everything else accordingly. “Looking back, we just hadn’t been looking closely enough for the puffs,” said the soft-spoken Macdonald “We were more concerned with getting to the favored side of the course, rather than staying where the wind was strongest.”

    Sailing left for about two minutes, the two continued their lifted heading, then tacked back towards the right side in a steady vein of breeze. As the fleet began to converge at the top of the course, what had appeared to be a walk-away race win for Doyle and Bennett, and a regatta victory for Reynolds and Schreiner, suddenly looked much less certain. Macdonald and Jespersen had come back hard by playing center of the course. And they were being lead back by the Camets (sailing number 6643, almost 1100 hulls older than the newest hull at the regatta), who had also gone left after rounding the leeward pin.

    Charging the favored boat end of the line, Doyle and Bennett (7596) had the starboard tack advantage, but the Camets (6643) could lay the finish without having to tack. Moments before the Camets shot the line, Doyle and Bennett came across with a powerful, perfectly-executed roll tack, 15 feet inside, and two feet ahead, of the Camets taking the last race. Silvestri and Erlin (7425), who had played the center right of the course on the last beat, had also made an impressive comeback, finishing moments after Doyle/ Bennett and the Camets 45 seconds later, however, the overall title was decided, as Macdonald Jespersen swept across the finish line moments behind Reynolds/ Schreiner, who had needed to place a boat between themselves and the Canadians to grab the victory. It was Moet all around as Ross Macdonald and Erick Jespersen claimed their first North American Star Championship by 3.4 points.

1995 North American Championship - Galesville, Maryland
Attracting A Galaxy of Star Sailors
By Angus Phillips, Washington Post – Sunday, October 19, 1995
Regatta Results

    Last time Paul Cayard, Rod Davis, John Kostecki and Vince Brun were together was in San Diego last spring, racing for the America’s Cup. What brought them now to this humble back water off the Chesapeake? Well, they’re sailing stars, here to sail Stars. There’s no place they’d rather be.  “It’s my favorite sailing,” said Cayard, the curly-haired Californian who steered for the world’s most famous yachtsman, Dennis Conner, in the Cup last May. “All the other is mostly work. This is for fun.”

    Serious, Olympic-style fun. Cayard was one of more than 60 skippers vying for the North American Championship all last week at tiny West River Sailing Club, a screened-porch summer place with a snack bar, sloping lawn and a dazzling down river view. Cayard and 270- pound crewman George Iverson crammed the cockpit of their little, 22-foot Star and battled all week to control its towering mainsail. Why would a fellow, whose phone rarely stops ringing with job offers on the fastest new big yachts around the world, travel cross-country to compete for free in an 84-year-old dingy design? “Look around,” he said, “The best sailors in the world are here.”

    Indeed, the hospitality tent at West River was jammed with world champions and Olympic medalists alongside their beefy 6 ½- foot crewman, who look more like body guards than sailors. They came form 11 nations to test themselves in the oldest racing design in global competition. When all the world loves something new, what sustains the ancient Star? “It’s like some things in life – unexplainable and better left that way,” said Cayard. “Obviously it has something special, some magic, and the fact that it’s been around 80 years just adds to that.” And somehow Stars, designed by one Francis Sweisguth and first raced in the Memorial Day Regatta of the Harlem Yacht Club in 1991, still draw the best sailors on earth, some for a lifetime.

    Among Cayard’s rivals was Durward Knowles, 78, who has sailed Stars in the Olympics eight times – a Guinness World Record for any sport – winning a gold medal for his native Bahamas in 1964 and a bronze in 1956, as well as a Star World Championship in 1947. Of the three, Knowles rates the world title best. “When you win the World’s in Stars,” he said, “it’s accepted – you’ve won the best there is.” Dennis Conner still considers his greatest triumph winning the Star World’s in 1977, with five first-place finishes. Says reigning world champion, Mark Reynolds of San Diego, who also won gold at the 1992 Olympics: “The World’s is more important than the Olympics or anything.”

    Stars, one of two keelboat classes slated for the 1996 Olympics at Savannah, have been in the Games since the 1920’s but were dropped briefly in favor of a more modern design, the Tempest, in 1976. “After 1976,” said Bill Buchan of Seattle, three-time world champion and 1985 Olympic gold medalist, “we wrote to the International Yacht Racing Union and said, ‘Stars don’t need the Olympics, but the Olympics need Stars.’” The class was reinstated in 1980. Buchan used to build Stars in his garage and sold them for about $4,000. These days, like every other serious Star racer, he buys from one of three European builders. The cost has skyrocketed to $40,000, which sounds outrageous for a 1,500-pound dinghy. But the boats are so astonishingly well-built, said Buchan, they’re worth every penny. “They look like they came from a Mercedes factory,” he said. Until the late 1960’s, Stars were bade of wood with wooden masts. The shift to fiberglass hulls and aluminum spars made them dramatically more durable, but the antiquated, angular hull shape wasn’t changed.

    The Star’s principal attraction to the world’s great sailors is it’s huge sail area, simple sail plan and spindly, infinitely adjustable mast. Stars are a handful in a breeze with all that power, and nimble in light winds. With the whippy, adjustable mast, “you can create almost any mainsail shape you want,” said Brun, the 1986 World Star Champion who trimmed the mainsail on Conner’s Stars & Stripes in the 1995 America’s Cup. “It’s a fascinating boat,” he said. “You have an incredible amount of control. You can change everything while you’re sailing and the smallest adjustments made a big difference.”
    Buchan, three-time World Champion, agrees. “They’re very well balanced. You get a Star tuned up and then make tiny adjustments – a quarter-inch of trim on the jib, a half-inch on the main – and you can feel the difference and find the groove.” Buchan also favors the way little Stars look, bashing into big waves and sending up sheets of glittering spray while a giant ape of a crewman hangs over the side, backside drooping in the water. “They’re so cool to look at,” said Buchan, who at 60 beats youngsters half his age. “I’m proud to sail a boat that looks that cool.”

    Buchan may have passed his sailing prime, but Cayard, Brun, Reynolds, Kostecki (tactician on Young America in the 1995 America’s Cup) and a half a dozen other top contenders here for the North Americans have not. They will vie for the lone U.S. Olympic spot for Star boats in team trials in Savannah in April. With all that talent, “it’s going to be a real fight,” said Kostecki, “and whoever comes out will have a very good chance at winning a medal.”     But, regardless of the outcome, said Kostecki, who won a Silver Medal in the Soling class in the 1988 Games, “I love sailing against the best, and that’s why I sail a Star. When I was in a Soling, everybody was always talking about Stars. They say once you’ve been in a Star, you never get out.”

1996 North American Championship - Wilmette, Illinois
Courtesy of Brian Moloney, Pioneer Press newspaper
Regatta Results

    Wilmette, IL – This 1996 North American Championship was started with a light onshore breeze which gave the race committee some headaches before settling. After one short postponement, the starting sequence began for the field of 34 boats racing a windward-leeward course. A last-minute oscillation of the wind to the right, brought most of the racers to the boat end of the large starting line at the gun. Joe Londrigan and at least one other boat were called over early. Londrigan continued sailing, was informed at the windward mark and promptly dropped out.

    At the second upwind rounding, lightning punctuated the sky and for a moment the wind died completely. That’s when the fun began. A torrential downpour accompanied a fresh breeze and a 90 degree downshift to the southwest, making for an entertaining screaming reach. As the racers approached the second leeward gate, the wind again shifted another 90 degrees to the northwest, making the downwind leg upwind. The racers tacked through the downwind gate and continued to a reset upwind finish, with Mitchell taking the gun and Macdonald second. Locals Bill Allen and Ross Adams placed third and fourth respectively. Susie Pegel lodged a protest against the entire fleet for passing through the second downwind gate arks and not rounding either mark. Stay tuned for the decision.

    Race 2 – A steady northerly breeze of 15 knots and three to four foot seas greeted competitors. Today was Ross Macdonald’s day as he led at every mark rounding, finishing first with a comfortable margin. The real race was between Vincent Brun and Joe Londrigan for second. Brun had the advantage upwind and rounded the first weather mark just ahead of Londrigan, who was faster downwind with Londrigan then leading Brun. Brun’s upwind advantage placed him in second again at the second upwind mark. Londrigan again passed Brun on the second downwind and rounded just ahead. As Londrigan approached the finish on port tack, he was forced to duck below Brun, who subsequently tacked on top. Londrigan was able to power through to the finish, besting Brun by three feet.

    The Pegel protest was heard following today’s race. Based upon Appeal 275, Pegel believed the race instructions were vague as to whether the leeward gate was a passing or rounding mark. By rounding instead of passing through, she believed she was the only one to comply with Rule 51.2. After some deliberation, the jury disallowed the protest, stating that either rounding a gate mark or passing through the gate complied with 51.2. Bainton had filed protest against Pegel in race one. The protest was based on Rule 51.2 and stated that by roundin the gate mark, Pegel in fact, passed the mark twice and consequently did not round the marks in the course in proper sequence. This protest was disallowed.

    Race 3 – Day three started with a quiet easterly breeze at 5 knots increasing to 10 knots by the end of the race. Most racers went for the boat end, prompting a general recall. The second start was clean except for local Doug Tate, who was over early. The fluky wind provided many shifts to play upwind. Series’ leader Ross Macdonald went left on the first upwind, which proved unwise as the wind quickly shifted right. The race committee executed a course change to square off the leeward let. After the first downwind leg Cuyler Morris took over the race and led around each subsequent mark, finishing first by good margin.

    Another shift to the right and another course change right started the second upwind leg. John MacCausland crept up the fleet and rounded the second upwind mark in second place, with Tom Olsen, third. MacCausland and Olsen traded placed as the second downwind gate and finished in that order. Tuesday night marked the mid-week awards dinner. After an open bus ride from the harbor to a downtown Chicago restaurant and a large Mexican buffet, the daily awards were given out. The highlight was the award for daily first place, courtesy of regatta sponsor Noblia, a division of Citizen Watch Company. Both skipper and crew were awarded a limited edition Star Class watch.

    Races 4 and 5 – Races four, rescheduled from the previous day due to lack of wind, and 5 were sailed in northwest winds at 18-20 knots. Unusually large rollers form the northeast mixed with the smaller waves from the northwest, creating a confused sea and typical offshore conditions: shifty and gusty. Three boats lost their rigs. Race four began with a clean start and the majority of the fleet sticking to the left, shore side. Vincent Brun was in sync with the shifts, oscillating as much as 35 degrees, and rounded the weather mark first, followed by Tom Olsen and Ross Macdonald. Brun decided to put his boat into overdrive and did a horizon job on the rest of the fleet, winning the race handily.

    In race five, Brun rounded first at the second windward mark by a substantial margin and preceded to hand the fleet its second horizon job for the ay. Adams also caught up to round third, just outside of Londrigan. Macdonald was fourth at the windward mar, but caught up to finish second, with Londrigan third and Adams fourth.

    Race 6 – Due to unsafe conditions at the harbor entrance Race six was canceled, the championship was complete.

1997 North American Championship
By Joe Londrigan
Regatta Results

Marina Del Rey, CA: In mid-June the California Yacht Club hosted the Star North Americans. A very competitive fleet of 24 boats gathered for some very good sailing and fun. The California Yacht Club ran a very good regatta on the water. On shore, a good time was had by all. Hal Haenel, Benny Mitchell, Bill Stump, and the remaining L.A. Harbor members should be applauded for their efforts.
A complimentary breakfast was served every morning, a lunch cart was set-up next to the hoist, and activities were planned every night. These events helped to keep all the sailors together and relaxed during the week. Noblia also added a bit of excitement by presenting watches to the individual race winners. From a sailor’s point of view this regatta was an excellent example for future regatta organizers.

    The smaller fleet also made for very close racing. Marina del Rey is noted for light air, waves, and tide lines, but this year the wind direction was more southerly and the wind averaged 8-12 knots. In every race, the crew was able to hike. As a fule, one side of he course generally pays when racing in southern California. This year was no exception. The trick is to try and figure out which side will pay off. This week, more times than not, the left side was favored on the 1st beat and the right side was favored on the last beat of the day. The legs in between could be anyone’s guess. I think everyone had the chance to see the front and back of the fleet this week.

    Going into the final race on Thursday, five boats had a mathematical chance to win. Only three points separated the top five boats after counting a discard. Eric Doyle had 10 points, Howard Shiebler and Joe Londrigan each had 12 points, and Mark Reynolds and Vince Brun were deadlocked with 13 points apiece. Under Star Class rules, both Howard and Joe would win on all tiebreakers.

    Following form for the wee, the boats on the left side of the course were able to establish an early lead. At the first weather mark, Dave Watt from Seattle, took an early lead by demonstrating good upwind speed. Dave’s lead had diminished considerably by the leeward mark. Shortly thereafter on the second beat, both Benny Mitchell and Joe Londrigan were able to pass Dave. Benny rounded the second weather mark with the lead and Londrigan was close behind. The position remained unchanged down the run which set the stage for the final beat.

    Eric Doyle and Brian Terhaar were well on their way to sailing their throw out. Ben Mitchell and Bill Stump were checking out their wrist size for a new watch. Vince Brun and Rodrigo Merielles, now in third place, were discussing tactics in Portuguese while sailing off into the left corner. Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel who were close behind, went shopping in the right corner alo9ng with Howard Shiebler and Mike Dorgan. Londrigan and Strube decided to cover their closest competitor, which was Brun on the left. Following from the right side paid on the last beat. Through the binoculars, it appeared Reynolds might win the race and series. In the end, however, Benny Mitchell crossed the line just seconds before Londrigan, who was closely trialed by Reynolds. As luck would have it the best sailors won!

1998 North American Championship - Lake George, New York
By Donna Wotton
Regatta Results

Practice Day:
We had an excellent practice race today with about 35 boats on the water. Winds were 10-16 mph from the Southeast with substantial gusting. The race went off on time with one start. John MacCausland Jr. from New Jersey had the best start and held it through the entire course (two windward/leeward legs, 2.5 miles each) to finish first. He was followed by Mark Reynolds (San Diego Yacht Club) and Ross Adams (Wilmette Harbor). Good time had by all. So far we have had three days of good wind and the sailors are very encouraged by the prospect of more tomorrow for the first official race. Top local sailors in the practice race were Rick Dhein (7th), Hank Rowan (12) and Peter Marshall (16) Very exciting and an armada of spectator boats out to watch some fast and exciting sailing.

Day One- Races #1 and #2
 We had a great first day of racing. Wild, strong, gusty west wind “corker”. All the ocean sailors that thought they were going to be drifting around a little lake got their money’s worth today with black gusts shifting up to 80% without warning. Two broken masts (both boats will be back on the water tomorrow – each only missed one race which will be their throw out), two “knockdowns” with the keels in the air, and lots of hairy mark roundings. Some fabulous jibe mark excitement with sailors screaming for room, thundering jibes, and rudders out of the water. Mark Reynolds gave us all a lesson in handling the shifts with two first places (1/2 leg on the 2nd place boat in the first race). And a lesson for crew’s from his crew Magnus who pops in and out of that mini-hike position like a shot and tacks without notice. John MacCausland hung in there with two 2nd places and consistency was the name of the game for the rest of the fleet. Most of the top 10 boats in the standings are consistently in the top 10 (including Rick Dhein from NLGYC currently 6th place with a 9th and 10th).

Day Two – Races #3 and #4 (Tuesday, September 29)
 A magnificently clear crisp fall d ay on Lake George allowed for fabulous photo opportunities, if not a perfect star sailing breeze, with a seasonal steady South wind 12-15 mph. After one general recall, and a 3 mile long windward leg (the course was a windward-leeward, twice around), the fleet rounded very tight on the windward mark the first time around. Some gusty port tack approaches weaving through the oncoming fleet made for an exciting rounding, and the mark took a little beating from several boats on the inside. True to the competitive spirit here, the penalty 360s were done skillfully – almost in stride- with hardly a boat length lost in some cases. The first leeward leg stretched the fleet somewhat and Mark Reynolds (San Diego) and Peter Bromby (Bermuda) changed position on almost every leg of the rest of the race

    Ultimately it was Bromby on the final run, who was victorious. However, the most excitement at the finish was in the rest of the fleet, when 10 boats in places 12-21 crossed the finish line all together and the scoring teams at both ends of the line were consulted to finalize the placements.
To paraphrase Club Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks, “Let’s race two!” With such beautiful wind, the race committee was not about to send the fleet in at the end  of the first race a second race started 30 minutes after the first one finished, and with a  freshening breeze, they sailed another beauty – this time finishing to weather (two windward-leewards, with a final beat to the finish). This time the fleet spread out a bit more, but Bromby and Reynolds fought it out again. They split tacks the last time up, and Bromby came out on top again by 100 feet. At the end of the day Reynolds still leads the regatta by 4 boats, but Bromby is coming on strong. Don’t count out John MacCausland (Cooper River, NJ) who had two third places today. After two second places in races 1 & 2, he is tied with Bromby for second. Rick Dhein still leads the Lake George contingent in 7th place overall, with 10th and 9th places in today’s races. Now that were ahead of schedule on races, Wednesday will have only one race instead of the scheduled two.

Day Three- Race #5 (September 30, 1998)
It’s all over but the shouting! Mark Reynolds capped off an impressive North American series today with another first place finish, bringing his total to three firsts and two seconds. With one throw-out race, no other competitors can catch him and it is likely that he will be a spectator tomorrow as the remaining contenders battle for second place. An easterly wind this morning delayed the start of the fifth race as the fleet bobbed around for 3 hours waiting for the wind to shift to the south and settle in. When it finally did, it came in strong and gave us another fine race. Jock Kohlhas (Biscayne Bay, FL) led the first time up the #3 course (two windward-leewards, plus the final beat), but was caught at the leeward mark by Reynolds and Ross Adams (Wilmette Harbor, IL) with Adams rounding first. Adams stretched the lead on the next two legs, but had to settle for second place when he sailed too deep into the west shore on the final beat and Reynolds easily walked away with the win.
Once again the strong winds took their toll on the fleet, with two broken forestays (Page from Southern Lake George and Wotton from Lake George), one broken main sheet (Atkinson from Sunapee, NH) and one broken mast (Dave Watt from Puget Sound, WA). After five races, Mark Reynolds has won, Peter Bromby (Bermuda) and John MacCausland (Cooper River, NJ) are tied for second. Local favorite Rick Dhein slipped to 10th place. We’re expecting heavy air again tomorrow and possible thunderstorms for the finale as MacCausland and Bromby battle it out.

Day Four – Race #6 and Grand Finale
Our reports of great wind in the past few days pale in comparison to our Grand Finale today. The statistics speak for themselves: 6 broken masts, 2 sheered off booms, 3 completely swamped boats (one boat with their bow underwater, sailed it home on only the jib and bailed it dry by the time they got in the harbor!), 2 men overboard, 1 exploded mainsail, 10 or more busted vangs, shoruds and lots of breaches, broaches, knockdowns, spills and thrills and NO INJURIES!!!

Thirty seven boats started in a gusty west wind at about 18-20 knots. It continued to build until a front came over the we3stern hill blasting in excess f 30 knots just as they rounded the weather mark the second time. As boats peeled off to leeward, the shifting winds hit the fleet full force with boats “auto-jibing”, breaching, broaching and bedlam ensued. As fast as we could get a patrol boat to one demisted boat, another stick would explode. Most of the “survivors” temporarily abandoned the race for about 20 minutes, trying just to keep their boats intact. Some even sailed into the islands to wait it out. When the dust settled, twenty boats finished the race, led by John MacCausland and his crew, Phil Trinter (Cooper River, NJ). Rob Maine and Ross Adams, both of Wilmette Harbor, IL, hung on for second and third place. Local favorite Rick Dhein finished 11th. Hank Rowan and Steve Rottier also finished.

1999 North American Championship - Winthrop, Massachusetts
By Stephen Braverman
Regatta Results

August 8
Thirty six competitors, six Nations, several Olympians and Start World Champions, including Mark Reynolds, and Peter Bromby, arrived in Winthrop, Massachusetts for the Kaene Inc, 1999 Star North American Championships. The opening ceremonies commenced at six o’clock in the evening with regatta chair David O’Brien introducing his co0chairs Joe Zambella, and Philip Marks, Cottage Park Yacht Club Commodore Jim Burns, Rear Commodore Mike Gahan and Star Class North American Vice President, John MacCausland, among others. Flags from the six competing nations, including Ireland, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, and USA were presented to Commodore Burns. They were flown from flagstaffs throughout the regatta.

Boats arrived as early as several weeks in advanced, with some competitors tuning-up at the Make-a-Wish Regatta the weekend prior. Sails and competitors were both measured, certificates viewed, ad most boats were put together and launched in the water for a sail by late Saturday afternoon. The forecast for the day’s practice race was pretty ominous with thunderstorms nearing. Still, twenty or so competitors launched their boats, and took the turn past Deer Island Light out to the race course in a bit of a breeze. We were spared much of the adverse weather with the storms going to the North and South of us. Even though It was only practice, the fleet was very aggressive, and we finally got a start off after two general recalls. By the time we got off the line, the due-south wind had diminished plenty but we still had a decent race in 8-12 knots of breeze. We raced a Star Class course three, which is a Windward-Leeward-Windward course. At the top of the second windward leg, the leaders looked back at the fleet of boats and the black sky over Nahant and Marblehead, and just kept heading upwind to Deer Island Light on their way home. All the other lemmings followed and nobody actually finished the race. The first two races were set for very early starts the next morning. We were al looking forward to some very competitive racing.

August 9
There was lots of wind today. It was up and down all afternoon. It shifted Northwest to North, from 10-19 knots (at least 19 is the highest gust the Boston Weather Buoy saw). One broken mast, one popped shroud, one exploded outhaul shieve, and several other mechanical failures ensued. However there were zero protests, and zero collisions. Overall, it ended up not being too bad a day on the water. We had two long races starting just west of Boston Light, and sailing into Revere Beach on Broad Sound. The first race was an Olympic course, and the second was a Triangle-Windward-Leeward. Everyone was tired.

August 10
Well, after the first tow days, we’d had plenty of wind. It blew like stink on the ninth, and on the tenth, despite drifting out to the race course, we had two long, grueling and unseasonably cold races in 8-15 knots after a 90 minute postponement.We had the midweek trophies after a lobster dinner, with much welcomed clam chowder. Wednesday should see only one race, with the final race taking place on Thursday.

August 11
After a 60 minute postponement, competitors left the dock, and took a long drift out to the racecourse. At about two o’clock, the wind barely filled from SSE enough for a start. We sailed a five leg windward-leeward course. The breeze was a spotty 5-10 knots at best, and a little shifty. Mark Reynolds and Rick Peters pulled a horizon-job on the rest of the fleet. After the one throw out, Reynolds with Peters and Eric Doyle with Tom Olsen were all tied up at the top. Peter Bromby and Lee White, from Bermuda were in third, six points behind.

August 12
The last racing day, we had a 90 minute postponement due to lack of wind, AND a Liquid Natural Gas tanker which closed the shipping channel heading out to the race course. There were two match races within the sixth and final race of the series. Eric Doyle and Mark Reynolds raced for the top honors. Doyle had to beat Reynolds AND place 4th or better. The other match race was between Doug Schofield and John MacCausland for fourth place. Finally about 1:00 the fog lifted, and the breeze filled in from SSE enough for a race. The wind picked up steadily through the afternoon, and we ended with 10-12 knots. Eric Doyle and Tom Olsen won their match race to finish second in the race, and the Keane Inc Star North Americans.  Mark Reynolds and Rick Peters threw out their 7th place finish to take second in the regatta. Peter Bromby and Lee White from Bermuda won the last race to finish third. Brothers Dough and Bob Schofield placed eighth in the final race winning their match race with John MacCausland with George Iverson. Paul Sustronk and Dag Nyhof from Canada sneaked in with a fouth in the final race to finish fifth overall. 

There were six great races, lots of fun, food and camaraderie. I would like to extend a big thanks to the Cottage Park Yacht Club, Dave O’Brien and the Regatta Committee, Race Committee, Judges, Support Boats, Bartenders, and everyone else for such a great regatta.

2001 North American Championships - Milford, Connecticut
Regatta Results

26 August 2001 - Patience, Perseverance and Luck Rule the Day   
Opening day for the 61 boat fleet of the Keane 2001 Star Class North American Championship required patience, perseverance, and a bit of luck. Olympic gold medalists Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl grabbed the top spot by only 8 seconds in a tight duel with San Diego fleet mate George Szabo III and George Iverson in the challenging and frustrating conditions on Long Island Sound. The race committee granted a one-hour starting delay, which could have easily been extended to the entire morning as crews lazed under a bright sun and flat calm in the waters of Long Island Sound. Two hours passed before the tease of a south-easterly appeared on the Long Island shore. With a solid 6 knots from 140 degrees on an incoming tide, only one general recall was needed to officially get racing underway 3-1/2 hours past the scheduled start time and just inside the deadline for cancellation.

For race committee chairman Alan Pritchard, “the challenge of the day was not finding the breeze, but keeping track of it.” A 70 degree wind shift and a building breeze awaited the fleet at the top mark leaving the race committee without time to signal a course change. Kevin Hall/ Craig Mark (Annapolis) led around the mark followed by Bill Allen /Brian Fatih (WH), George Szabo/ George Iverson (San Diego), Canadians Paul Sustronk/ John Finch and Larry Whipple/ Mark Strube. Olympic gold medalists Mark Reynolds & Magnus Liljedahl rounded 7th. What should have been a run turned into a fast reach as the fleet compressed in the building southerly providing big gains to crews who took advantage of riding the waves.

The west coast teams set the pace as Szabo/ Iverson surfed from fourth to first with Reynolds/ Liljedahl in second place followed by Hall/ mark and Whipple/ Strube. Milford sailors John Lombard/ Keith Gardner (7728) rounded fifth. As the southerly breeze increased to 16-18 knots, the race committee signaled a course change to 2010 for the second beat to windward. The race leaders set off on a long port tack while several boats split onto starboard in search of a clear lane in the lumpy conditions. At the next rounding, Reynolds/ Liljedahl led by 10 seconds over Szabo/ Iverson who battled with a broken outhaul wire while Bill Allen/ Brian Fatih maintained a third place followed by Vince Brun/ Rick Peters (7956) and John MacCausland/ Sean Delaney. The frustration of a broken compass left Bermuda’s Peter Bromby/ Martin Siese to rely on boat positioning and speed. Taking a clearing hitch at the bottom mark paid huge with Bromby picking off 10 boats rounding in 8th place.
On the final leg the duel between Reynolds and Szabo intensified as crews used boat trim and body weight to squeeze the most speed from their boats while pressing to the finish line. The gun sounded giving Reynolds/ Liljedahl the 8 second margin over Szabo/ Iverson. Rounding out the top five boats were MacCausland/ Delaney, Allen/ Fatih, and Brun/ Peters.

Back on shore, Mark Reynolds commented on the racing and the level of competition. “It was a long day, and our boat speed came on when the breeze picked up. We worked the boat a little harder on the reach.” Asked about the competition Reynolds said, “There are always a lot of really good sailors, and this is the best fleet put together for the North Americans.” Day one was a long one, but in the minds of competitors and race committee alike, getting the first race “in the bag” was well worth the wait.

Keane Inc. and Nautica International are the sponsors of the Keane 2001 Star Class North American Championship. Founded in 1965, Keane Inc. (AMEX;KEA) helps Global 2000 companies and government agencies plan, build and manage application software to optimize business performance. The Company’s services include Business Innovation Consulting, Application Development and Integration, and Application Development and Management (ADM) Outsourcing. Information on Keane, proud sponsor of the Kaene 2001 Star Class North American Championship, is available on the web at

27 August 2001 - Hall/ Monk Dominate Round the Cans
The breeze was a tease on the second day of racing in the Keane 2001 Star Class North American Championship on the waters of Long Island Sound off Milford Harbor. For crews who anticipated the continuation of the southerly that filled after a 3 ½ hour delay on Sunday and remained through the night, by race time, the breeze had dropped to 5 knots under a sunny sky. Kevin Hall/ Craig Monk (AN) and Ben Cesare/ David Curtis (Mid) dominated racing today by leading at all marks on the 5-leg windward/ leeward course. Following the start both boats dove for the right side, which paid smartly on the first beat to the top mark. In the 61 boat fleet that includes Olympic medalists, America’s Cup veterans, past North American and World champs, finding a passing lane on the predominately light-air course was akin to finding a cab at rush hour in Manhattan.

Following closely behind Hall/ Monk and Cesare/ Curtis were Vince Brun/ Rick Peters and George Szabo III/ George Iverson, second place finishers in Sunday’s race. Over all leaders Mark Reynolds/ Magnus Liljedahl rounded the top mark in 11th place. There were few lead changes among the top 10 boats at the bottom mark, with 7 seconds separating Hall/ Monk and Cesare/ Curtis. A 50 degree left-hand shift and a slight breeze increase in the breeze meant very little time on starboard tack and a long procession on port tack to the top mark.  With the breeze a steady 8, Hall/ Monk increased their lead to 25 seconds showing excellent speed on the rounding followed by Cesare/ Curtis, Watt/ Jensen, Szabo/ Iverson, and moving into 5th place was the team of Reynolds/ Liljedahl.

In a repeat of Sunday’s racing, the set-up for the finale began to unfold on the final leg as the lead boats again headed right. The dominant duo of Hall/ Monk maintained their lead and covered Cesare/ Curtis. Appearing to point higher and sailing with speed, Reynolds/ Liljedahl were side by side with Szabo/ Iverson, forcing them to tack approximately 2/3 the way up the beat. As the breeze became lighter approaching the finish, Hall/ Monk maintained their lead crossing first just in front of Cesare/ Curtis. The battle for third was underway as Watt/ Jensen sailed on the port tack layline with Reynolds/ Liljedahl on starboard. As they crossed, Reynolds/ Liljedahl slipped ahead finishing 10 seconds in front of Watt/ Jensen with Szabo/ Iverson only 5 seconds behind. Rounding out the top ten were Brun/ Peters, Doug & Robert Schofield (7876) and Schiebler/ Sharpe (8096).
    An approaching front escorted the fleet in from the race course with rain, thunder and lightning. Gathered under the roof of the club snack bar, race leaders swapped stories. Kevin Hall, who resides in Bowie, Maryland but is currently moving to Auckland, NZ via the One World America’s Cup Challenge based in Seattle commented, “Our goals was to finish in the top ten. This is the first couple of regattas racing in the Star.” Joined by Craig Monk, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Olympic games held in Barcelona, Spain and better knows as part of the 1998 America’s cup winning Team New Zealand crew, also joins Kevin Hall as part of the One World crew.
    In the overall standings, Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl hold the top spot with 4 points. Asked about their speed and ability to climb from an 11th position to finish 3rd for the day, Reynolds “We sailed a little higher and worked a little harder to pick up a couple of boats on each leg.” Trailing Reynolds/ Liljedahl by a mere 3 points are San Diego fleet mates George Szabo III/ George Iverson followed by Hall/ Monk with 8 points and Vince Brun/ Rick Peters with 11 points. Racing resumes on Tuesday at 1200 (EST) with another light-air day expected. Four races remain in the 6-race series.

29 August 2001 - Long Days Deliver Trying Conditions
Following Tuesday’s race abandonment for falling outside 3 ½ hour time limit and feeling pressure by the lack of dependable breeze, the race committee called for a 10:00 a.m. start on day 4 in the hope of locking in 2 races in the Keane 2001 Star Class North America Championship. An early dock start sent competitors out to Long Island Sound in a northerly breeze, only to arrive at the course area as the breeze went into shut-down mode. The wait for wind is part of the daily ritual for the 61 boat fleet, so when the gun sounded, aggressive starters were called back in a general recall for another race delay as the dying northerly was replaced by the predicted southerly. At 1130, the race gun was sounded for a four-leg windward leeward course in 4-8 knots of breeze.

There are two distinguishable trends in the series so far; light and right. The jump off the start line can make the difference between finding a spot at the top or settling into the “cheap seats”. For George Szabo/ George Iverson from San Diego, consistency in getting to the right fast has produced a top mark rounding of top 5 and a front row seat, winning race #3. Szabo/ Iverson approached the starboard tack lay line while keeping a watchful eye on the pack. “Helming” George had a look through the mainsail window and said to “hiking” George, “Oh God George, I got a problem.” Sailing on a collision course with a tugboat towing a large barge and not seeing an easy exit, the team pointed a little higher then reached off to avoid the obstruction. Watching the fleet close in as they sailed through the prop “washing machine” produced a few anxious moments. They rounded the top mark approximately 100 yards ahead of the pack and maintained their position in the next 3 legs.

Seven starters were not so lucky as they rounded the top mark only to be giver the heave-ho by the race committee for being over early. For local sailors Bear Hovey/ Roger Sharpe (7890), the word came from Bear’s dad, race committee member Dick (The Dicker) Hovey. Joining Bear was another local sailor, Peter Cusick/ Tyler Hadden (7371). Back onshore, both were frustrated at their day’s performance, but still maintained a great sense of humor. With finishes of 12 and 30 for the first two races, Bear commented, “its frustrating, we were near the committee boat and wanted a good start. We’re finished for the week in the results, but were going to keep racing hard, its such a great fleet and were having fun.”

The level of talent at the North Americans is stellar to say the least. The elimination of the 3-person Soling from the Olympic sailing classes has started a trend of top sailors to jump into the Star. Thomas Gogh, son of sailing legend Hans Fogh, is one. This is the second regatta for Fogh/ Caesar (7802) and their experience racing other one design’s is accelerating the learning curve in the Star. Fogh commented, “The Star is very responsive to movement (in the boat), this sailing is bringing back all the old Laser stuff, especially downwind. We’re trying this out and having a good laugh.”   Former Etchells World Champion (1999) and fellow Canadian Paul (Otis) Sustronk (7592) has sailed Stars for the past two years. Finishing second in today’s racing, and tied for fifth overall, Sustronk said, “the Star is a more physically and technically demanding boat than an Etchells.” “Today, we were great on port tack and horrible on starboard, we tried a variety of different things and by the second leg figured it out.”

The gold star on the sail belonging to Reynolds/ Liljedahl is the one that the fleet watches. Finishing seventh today and trailing by 3 points for second place overall behind Szabo/ Iverson is testimony to how competitive the fleet is. Commented crew Magnus Liljedahl, “it’s tricky out there, today we were not going as well- you have days like that.” He added, “half-way through the Olympic regatta in Sydney we were sitting 12th place….there’s still some racing to do.? The weather outlook for Long Island Sound for Thursday is the same – a light southeasterly and lots of sunshine. If the race committee locks in five races, competitors can throw out their worst finish. Four races will make a series with no throw out. With two more races to go, the overall standings have the west coast teams of Sabo/ Iverson (8pts), Reynolds/ Liljedahl (11pts), and Brun/ Peters (16 pts) in the top three. Only four points separate Hall/ Monk (20 pts), Sustronk/ Finch are tied with Shiebler/ Sharp for fifth (21 pts). Whipple/ Strube (31 pts), Watt/ Jensen (32 pts), Maine/ Murphy (36 pts) and the team of Vanderhoff/ Perkins (41 pts) fill up the top ten slots.

30 August 2001 - A Roll of the Dice
Competitors in the Keane 2001 Star Class North American Championship have come to depend on the crap-shoot for breeze on Long Island sound, and today was no exception. At the close of racing on day 5, the overall winners face a roll of the dice as they approach the final day’s racing on Friday. The breeze may be light and shifty, but the competition is heavy among the top ten boats for the final overall standings.  The black flag returned to the start line this morning following one postponement and one general recall owed to aggressive starters and sweeping current. Once again, light and right was the trend with the majority of boats starting at the committee boat in the 6 knot easterly 5 leg windward-leeward course. Peter Bromby, winner of the 2001 Bacardi Cup was the sleeping giant who shook up the race course today, protecting the right side and leading at every mark to take the gun. Second place went to the team of Shiebler/ Sharpe who stayed on the heels of Bromby/ Siese throughout the race.

Playing the shifts and keeping a watchful eye on the breeze separated the fleet at all the mark roundings. Going into today’s race and leading with 8 points overall the team of Szabo/ Iverson were 11tha t the first bottom mark to round in 4th place at the second top mark. Fellow San Diego sailor Vince Brun was in 14th place at the first leeward mark to emerge 6th at the next mark. Brun/ Peters finished 3rd today with Szabo/ Iverson 4th. Following the race Szabo said, “We stayed to the right and hooked into some shifts, playing them all the way up the second beat. Then the wind shifted 70-80 degrees. First we had Vince then 60 degrees changed everything.” The team of Reynolds/ Liljedahl with finishes of 1-3-7, paid heavily for being on the wrong side of the shifts falling from mid fleet to a back of the pack 42nd. With a throwout in the series based on completing five races, they trail Szabo/ Iverson by four points. Reynolds said, “We went to the left and were out of synch with the breeze. The sea breeze didn’t come in as expected.” Crew Magnus Liljedahl added, “Our performance is pretty even in all conditions, and sometimes the competition is just a bit better in light air. We look forward to racing tomorrow.”

For race winner Peter Bromby, todays racing had a familiar tone. “This race was the spitting image of a race we sailed in the Arms White regatta here earlier this summer. We were watching the breeze and we kept an eye on the dark clouds, and saw the sea breeze coming.” Splitting away from Bromby/ Siese after passing through the leeward gate on the final windward leg, Shiebler/ Sharpe head for the left side of the course. With an eye on the big picture of overall standings, Howie’s goal was twofold, “One, we wanted to catch Peter and two, we wanted to put one more boat between us and George (Szabo).” There are plenty of “what if” speculations among the competition for the overall standings. The biggest “what if” is whether the breeze will come to the show for one or possible two races scheduled for tomorrow. Milford sailors Ben Cesare/ David Curtis (7465) have a shot of a top ten finish in their first year of Star Sailing. “Were having a great time and learning a lot with every race.”
    And just when you would think that all the competition and fun is out on the race course... think again. Sailors and spectators were well entertained by a post-race poolside competition involving a swimmer (big Star crew), a length of fishing line (40 & 50 lb.test) tied to the belt of a swimmer and a “fisherman” (helmsman) who stood poolside to “reel in the big fish”. Rumor has it the instigator of the “reel in the big fish” was none other than Vince Brun and crew Rick Peters. With a running start, “Big Fish” Mark Strube dove into the pool with a 40 lb. test line tied to his belt with helmsman/ angler Peter Bromby set to reel in the big fish by hand. Well, the “Big Fish” got away from both Bermuda skipper Bromby, and Bahamas skipper Jimmie Lowe to the cheers and amusement of the assembled crowd. And that is no fish story!