North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Zeke Horowitz
Images © Alan Staniforth


North-powered clients, Jay Rhame and Peter Beardsley, dominate Viper 640 fleet in Sarasota

Light winds challenged twenty-one teams for the first event for the Viper 640 Sarasota Winter Series. Saturday’s racing was cancelled due to the lack of wind, but four races were achieved in 2-7 knots on Sunday. Jay Rhame with crew Rachel and Peter Beardsley from Larchmont Yacht Club on
Great Scott! dominated the event, winning all four races.

North Sails Viper expert, Zeke Horowitz, caught up with Peter and Rachel Beardsley after racing to hear about their day on the water and what they did to win all four races.

Peter, what  was the key to your setup and why you were going so fast in the light air, both upwind and downwind?

It was really light. We were at 22 on the uppers. I was sitting in the boat a lot more towards the middle. I was playing the fine tune on the jib a lot. We were able to windward sheet the jib as long as we had at least five knots, which was something that Zeke told us to do a long time ago that we didn’t have much success with it until today. It allowed us to lift off people. I felt like a puppeteer for a while there when I was playing the windward sheet, leeward sheet, and fine tuning simultaneously. We were able to really open our gage on people at the right time. We tried not to do too many maneuvers because it was so light, and every time you made a big move, it affected your boat speed drastically. We tried to only tack once or twice a beat to keep our speed up.

Rachel, you were in the front of the boat. Tell us what you were looking for on the upwinds and the downwinds so you could avoid maneuvers but still get the overall strategy good enough so you can focus on speed?

“Our goal was to minimize the numbers of maneuvers, so we talked about the wind and where we thought the pressure was, making sure that whatever the strategy that we stayed on our goal to minimize number of tacks and jibe.”

I look at almost nothing else other than the kite when sailing downwind, but if we feel a little bit light the first thing we do, Jay and I, is to sit on the floor of the boat. Rachel, as our forward crew and tactician downwind, stands up on the foredeck with the best view. If we want to head up,we will all lean into leeward and try to use very little rudder. One of the weird things about today is that we usually have a mode where we lean to weather if we are going to fall off, and today we were never able to do that. It felt like it got half a knot lighter each race and we were almost never able to rock to weather to get it down. We were just trying to heat it up, heat it up and we kept our momentum on which was key.

Give us the 3 biggest tips for light air Viper sailing for someone new to the boat:

  1. Don’t pinch upwind if you are under 6 knots. The boat likes to sail low and fast, we tack into 100 degrees in these conditions.
  2. Downwind:  Allow at least 3-5 degrees of leeward heel. Place yourselves on centerline so the boat is more sensitive to the puffs.
  3. Pressure is key. Stay in the pressure and be cognisant of where the next puff is.

You guys were the fastest boat on the water. Anything you might change for next time?

The class changed the rule to allow a more vertical rudder bracket and we are going to install that before the January event and see how that goes. We are also going to move positions around the boat a little bit. Jay and I usually alternate driving in local events and we will do that in January and February. Rachel can do a lot more kite trimming with me up forward looking downwind. If all of us can do every job really well we know we are going to be faster as a team.

Congratulations Peter, Jay and Rachel!

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2018 Sarasota Winter Series – Event 1
1 Great Scott! / Jay Rhame / Peter Beardsley
3 Moxie / Zeke Horowitz
4 Merica / Paul Kleinschrodt
5 Coming In Hot / Michelle Lee
6 USA 264 / Jonathan Nye
7 Caterpillar / Peter Ill
8 USA 105 / William Stocke
9* Entourage / Nick Amendola
* Denotes Partial North Sails Inventory

Full results

First Place
Third place

More photos

Story Contributors

Viper 640 Light Air Tips headshot
Zeke Horowitz

One Design Expert — Annapolis, Maryland

Zeke Horowitz grew up in Sarasota, Fla. where he quickly took to sailing and began racing in the Optimist Class at the age of nine. His Optimist racing took him all over the world and inspired his passion for sailing...

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