future skipper

Future Sonar skipper Cameron Fairbanks is coached by his dad, Matt.

A beautiful day on Vineyard Sound for the Saturday afternoon Sonar races. This was the first time this season we had winds less than 10 knots, which made tactics even more important than in heaver breezes.

Due to the current and light winds, a few boats straggled to get to the line by the start, but all 7 boats were there for the 13:05 starting flag with 5.8 knot winds from the soutbheast. The D course (windward, leeward, finish at the race committee boat) was a good length race for the conditions. Lots of jockeying for position around the boat end of the line for the start, particularly with a 30-degree wind shift near the beginning of the race.

Brian Doyle perfected his pin end/clear air start in the sailing school Sonar (Brian is working with his team to come up with a perfect name for the boat) with his young women crew. With no prior spinnaker experience, they stayed with their jib for most of the races. The Richards’ boat, Challenger, with Mike Richards at the helm, jumped ahead with their lightweight crew. After competing in his first Opti Green fleet event on Wednesday, Thomas Richards, 8, was eager to grab the tiller and show off some of his new skills. While he wasn’t ready to navigate the commotion of a competitive starting line, he was able to steer the boat successfully downwind for large chunks of time. Joining Thomas in the boat was his 6-year old brother Benjamin, who enthusiastically helped with jib trim. Opti’s one week, sonars the next, America’s cup next year?

Jimmy Tieje at the helm in Maelstrom coached his crew, who had never done foredeck and had little spinnaker experience. The winds were fluky and The Molly T was able to pass Nimble with some of the wind shifts. On the down-wind leg Molly T, Last Call and Easy were bunched together after the rounding. Challenger was first at 38:26, followed by Jim Tieje in Maelstrom (39:20), The Molly T with Josh Tolkoff at the helm (40:28), Joe Voci skippering Last Call (41:17), Jack Valle in Nimble (41:30), Brian Doyle in FHSS (42:07), and Bob Silva in Easy (42:15).

The second race, a W2 (upwind, back to the start, upwind and finish at the start), had SE winds at 7 knots with diminishing currents. Heavy boat traffic made for lots of waves and spinnaker work. The Challenger handily navigated the light winds and got out in front early followed by Nimble. The fleet was in tight formation for much of the race and spinnaker handling and tacking were smooth and efficient. Challenger crossed first (41:41), followed by Nimble (43:37) with a race for third, Last Call (44:05) edging out The Molly T (44;17) despite Tim Duda’s valiant efforts at the helm. Maelstrom (44:43) got 5th. Jim had only compliments for his crew, reporting that they “did a superb job of handling the spinnaker considering Danielle Brown had never done the pole before, Megan had never sailed on a Sonar and Brigid O’Connor had never been the tactician. I owe them all a great deal of thanks for pitching in and getting the boat around the course without mishap.” Close behind Maelstrom was Easy (44:54) and the sailing school boat (45:55).

In the 3rd race, another W2, the wind had increased a bit to 7-10 knots with an ebb tide, current going west. The advantage seemed to be at the pin end of the line, with the fleet dividing up in two groups, one near the boat and others at the pin for the start. Those with experience in light air and strong current led after the clean start. Challenger crossed the finish in a blazing 27:20. Jack Valle was back up near the front at 27:56, followed by Maelstrom (26:22) whose new crew was beginning to put it all together. Joe Voci and Josh Tolkoff dueled it out on the last spinnaker run, with Last Call (28.59) pulling ahead at the end over The Molly T (29:12). Easy was next (29:50) ahead of the sailing school boat (30:41) with big smiles.

Skipper Brian said, “The club boat provided the platform for a bunch of novices to join the fleet for a day of racing! We had 3 crew-women (Lori Sullivan, new to Falmouth and Sonar racing, Emily Doyle, junior of the Notre Dame Sailing Team, and Laney Thomson, junior at LSU in Falmouth for the weekend) who had little to no experience with a spinnaker, and an aspiring helmsman. Thanks to all the members of the fleet who contributed equipment needed to get the boat in the race, we had a great time, and learned a ton!

Kudos to the Race Committee headed by Bid Hagen, Dick Noonan, Nate Borovickk and Ben Wayne in the mark boat. Thanks!

Back to the dock for cold drinks and recounting the great day on the water. See you next week.

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