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Ending on a High Note »

August 14, 2011

Our experience this past weekend at the Grade 2 Chicago Cup was filled with some frustrating moments mainly due to simple mental errors, but we were able to pull it together in the final 2 races and finish with some respectability.  While we did not make it into the semis or the finals which sent us to the airport earlier than we were planning, the racing on Sunday was full breeze-on conditions and we showed that we can sail well when we are all clicking on the same page.

When the 2nd round robin started on Saturday, we still had a shot to make the semis but would need to sail close to perfect as we only compiled 3 wins in the previous round.  Sharp, dialed, focused, in-the-zone were just a few of the words or phrases that we needed to be on Saturday, but ended up more like confused, frustrated and wtf.  Sure, we lost some races to some good match racing teams, but after going to the wrong windward mark in 2 consecutive races, being off on a starting sequence, having sub-par boathandling and racking up half a dozen silly penalties, we knew our losses were not from the other teams, but from inside our boat.  The one race we did have in control and looked to win against eventual overall champ Bill Hardesty, was abandoned a minute from the finish due to thunderstorms which was a perfect fit for a bad day.  Our big Saturday ended up 0-5, and I the one certain feeling I had was similar to what it must be like playing for the Detroit Lions; the Super Bowl is not an option mid-season and there are still more games remaining.

Sunday brought huge northerly breeze and with the call to reef the mains on all the Tom 28’s by the Organizing Authority, we pushed off hoping to erase our poor sailing on the previous day.  Our first two matches we quickly got behind to Hardesty and Buckley and could not catch up as we struggled with our speed in the first race, and got another foul in second.  To our credit, we kept plugging away and in the pre-start of the next race against the Danish team with Nicolai Sehested, we did a nice of controlling from behind as we sailed away on port tack in 20-25 kts of wind.  As we fish tailed trying to keep our bow free of the Danes, they did a good job of slowing and as Don tried to head down and swing behind their transom, contact was made which was hard enough to send their skipper head over heals into the water.  Once safe back on board, the umps put up 2 yellow flags which would mean once the race started, we would need to complete 2 270’s one of which needs to be done immediately.

The bad feelings started to creep back in, but the hillarity of the situation at least made this one palatable.  We managed a good start, cleared one of the penalties just after the start and near the windward mark, Sehested and his team had a bad tack and we were able to prevent them from tacking and sneak inside at the windward mark.  Now ahead with a penalty to kill, we were able to hook them downwind, sail them to the right side far enough where once they broke the overlap, we could tack and gybe back around, clear ourselves and still stay ahead.  Once across the line, we all had smiles and a few chuckles as we could not believe we what took place in the pre-start and that we were able to clear ourselves of a double penalty and get a W.  The next race against highly ranked Taylor Canfield, we were able to just plain sail well as we hit the line on-time, at full speed and kept it together with a few challenges from Taylor.  Sure, we would liked to have sailed better during the entire event, but finishing off with 2 solid races was proof that when we sail well and stay focused we can be a very tough opponent.

The earlier flight was nice as I was able to get home for a family dinner and prepare for a full week of A and E Scow racing on the home turf of Lake Minnetonka.  With 26 A Scows lining up at 11am on Monday, it will be some serious streetball conditions. My hope is to get some reports off, but it may not happen with rum squalls coming hot and heavy during ILYA Champs.  Stay tuned.



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