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North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Ched Proctor
Images © Don Jones

ETCHELLS ATLANTIC COAST CHAMPIONSHIP 2017

Boats powered by North place 1, 2, 4, 5,6, 7,9 at Etchells ACC’s in Shelter Island, NY

The Atlantic Coast Etchells Championship was hosted by the Shelter Island Yacht Club and the Shelter Island Etchells Fleet. Saturday was an epic day; the fleet stayed ashore until a line of thunderstorms passed through, then hit the water for five great races. Unique to racing at Shelter Island, the Race Committee has a choice of three different racing areas to use. Both days they chose the closest one, located in Orient Harbor. The wind filled from the North West (290 degrees) in post-frontal conditions. Since the forecast for Sunday was for very light to no wind, the RC gave us five, four leg windward-leeward races. The 5th race was a five leg course. The bay is just big enough to set 1-mile legs with reasonable distance from the shore. The effects of strong current circulating in the bay, plus the short course and tight fleet, made for interesting racing. There is much discussion about which way the “toilet bowl is circulating today” in this area, always keeping things interesting on the race course.

Saturday’s breeze blew up as hard as 23 knots for the first three races of the day. For the last race, it dropped down around 8-10 knots. This called for a lot of rig adjustment, for the condition changes. At the end of Saturday’s five races, local Shelter Island fleet member Scott Kauffman with his team of Austen Anderson, Victor Diaz, and Evan Aras, held a one-point lead over Steve Benjamin’s team with Michael Menninger, Dave Hughes, and Ian Liberty. The top fully amateur team of Mark Jacobi and Taylor Walker, steered by Steve Girling, held down fourth.

Sunday there was a delay onshore as the very light West wind petered out which eventually would allow the thermal Southerly wind to fill in. Getting two races completed, the west wind held for the first race before shifting. The axis for Sunday’s first race was 270 degrees, with the wind shifting left as the race progressed. Scott Kaufman started at the weather end of the starting line and tacked immediately to port. Steve Benjamin started near the pin and went to the left side. The two came together in the lead at the weather mark rounding 1-2. Scott jibed to port and found some nice breeze to take the lead, which he held to the finish to gain a three-point advantage going into the last race of the regatta.

The start of the last race was delayed as the westerly petered and the wind filled more from the South requiring the race committee to move the starting line to a different corner of the bay. The final race of the regatta was a three leg course Windward Leeward Windward. The wind picked up to 10 knots and built to 12 by the end of the race, the fleet bunched toward the leeward end of the starting line. Everyone seemed to think getting close to the beach on the left side of the course would be the fast route to the weather mark. This eventually proved to be the case. After one general recall and a slight adjustment to the starting line the fleet got off to a clean start. Steve Benjamin’s and Peter Duncan’s teams popped out to nice positions. Scott Kaufman’s team wasn’t able to hold the front row to the port tack layline and tacked out to the right early. This proved to be their downfall as Benjamin’s team held the leeward advantage all the way to the port tack layline and eventually came into the weather mark, traveler down, full tilt to take the lead. The fleet was very closely bunched on the run. This made boat placement and getting a clean rounding of the right, facing downwind, gate mark and fast line to the left, the ticket to a quick upwind leg to the finish. Benjamin held the lead over the junior team steered by Conor Needham. As the Kaufman team sailed to an 11th place finish for their drop race, this gave Benjamin the regatta win.

Notable to the regatta was the participation of junior teams sponsored by class members. Steve Benjamin provided one of his many Etchells for the team to use, steered by Conor Needham, who sailed to a fifth place finish. Michael Gavin kindly provided his Etchells 1305 to the other junior team, helmed by recent Yale Grad, Marly Isler. He was also kind enough to offer his second boat for team White Boat to use, making for yet another competitor on the starting line.

Shout out to Fleet 15 and the Race Committee and volunteers this past weekend for helping make the ACC’s a success.

A statement throughout the fleet, 19 of 25 boats competing were all equipped with North Sails. Congrats to our clients for sailing fast!

Full Results