The 4th regatta of the US A-Class winter/spring series, The Admiral's Cup, was sailed March 22-24 at Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa. DIYC also hosted last month's RONSTAN Midwinter Championship which was the 2nd event of the series. The COCONUT GROVE SAILS AND CANVAS Invitational and Intergalactic Regattas were sailed in January at THE ISLANDER resort in Islamorada, FL and were events 1 and 2.
While Ben Moon's performance dominated this regatta on the water in the races he sailed, unfortunately his scores were affected by a shackle used to secure his standing rigging coming loose in Race 7 which caused him to DNF that race and DNC race 8. This left the door open for Bruce Mahoney from Houston, TX to win the event closely followed by Pete Levesque from Bristol, RI with Moon and Bob Hodges (Covington, LA) tied for 3rd in the final overall standings (Moon winning the tie-breaker). There was only six points separating the top four boats after 8 races so it was a close series in the end.
Moon won 5 of 6 races he sailed and also scored a 3rd in race 2. While his finishes looked to dominate the fleet, he was frequently challenged on the final leg of each race by the other top five finishers. His main advantage was still his best in fleet upwind speed. Mahoney was probably the fastest downwind but Moon always took advantage of his upwind speed combined with good starts and smart tactics to cross the finish line in first. Most of the races were closely contested with the top 6-8 boats finishing within 1-2 minutes of each other in the races that lasted 45-60 minutes.
The top two finishers in this event both used rudder winglets with Mahoney using the DNA T-rudder winglets and Levesque using L-rudders. Both felt the winglets created additional pitch stability upwind and downwind and allowed an extra edge to push harder in breeze downwind. Neither felt their performance was negatively affected in the lighter air races. In addition, Ben Hall was trying out a new Glaser "string" sail that seemed especially quick upwind.
Also of note was the performance of US Naval Academey Sailing Director Jahn Tihansky sailing an 11 year old Boyer Mark V A-Class. Tihansky finished 6th overall and won race 2 and finished 2nd in race 4. Tihansky had upgraded this boat with higher aspect straight daggerboards and was sailing with a 2010 mast and sail but it was encouraging to see an older boat like his Mark V do so well in the series. It shows that development in the class has not been so fast paced that a new sailor to the class can purchase an older boat at 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a new boat and with time and practice can be very close speed wise to the latest boats and gear.
Conditions for this event offered a great test. Races 1 and 2 were sailed in flat water and 6-10 knots of breeze. Race 3 had a bit more breeze at 10-12 knots while Race 4 started in about 8-10 knots but dropped to 0-1 knots for the final downwind leg where some shuffling of the lead boats occurred. Races 5 and 6 saw 6-10 knots, Race 7 was perfect at 12-13 knots, and Race 8 was full on at 18-22 knots with higher gusts. The last day of racing was cancelled as the breeze built into the low 20's with looming frontal system clouds on the horizon and the fleet voted to call it a series.
Thanks again to Davis Island Yacht Club. Race management and onshore support and hospitality were excellent. We all look forward to returning for the 2014 RONSTAN Midwinters. The 2014 Admirals Cup will return to its original venue in Bokeelia, FL racing off Pine Island Key.
The top five finishers and their equipment combinations were:
1. Bruce Mahoney (Houston YC) - 7-4-2-(10)-4-2-1-1 21 (DNA, Fiberfoam, Glaser)
2. Pete Levesque (Bristol YC) - 4-(7)-3-3-2-4-4-4 24 (Barracuda II, Hall, Landenberger)
3. Ben Moon (St. Petersburg) - 1-3-1-1-1-(DNF)-DNC 27 (Nikita, Fiberfoam, Glaser)
4. Bob Hodges (Pontchartrain YC) - 2-(8)-5-5-7-3-3-2 27 (DNA, Saarberg, Glaser)
5. Ben Hall (Bristol YC) - 5-2-6-(14)-6-6-2-3 30 (Barracua II, Hall, Glaser)
Best straight board finisher - Jahn Tihansky (Annapolis, MD) 6th overall
Top "Intergalactic" (mid fleet) finish - Joe Leonard (St. Charles, MO), 11th overall