North American East Coast Championships
35 boats from 7 countries competed over three days at the venue for the 2017 World Championships.
Hoping to get a jump on the competition, a large fleet gathered in Annapolis at the Severn Sailing Association and Eastport Yacht Club run ECC's. Conditions were generally light around the 5-8 knot mark but with a little more on Sunday ending with a couple of races that allowed "wire running".
It quickly became clear that it was going to be a 3 boat fight for the win with Chris Behm and Jesse Falsone leading by the narrowest margin after day one leading by one point from double World Champion Mike Holt, crewed by one of his World Championship winning crews Carl Smit, after them came World Champions Howie Hamlin and Jeff Nelson, who themselves were followed by another double World Champion Jan Saugman crewed by former North American Champion Drew Butner. Chris and Jesse had some talented teams chasing them.
Following racing a lovely BBQ, hosted by Carl and his wife Jacks and supported by Selden allowed everyone to relax and chat about the day's racing.
Saturday saw the wind coming from a very different direction but no more of it. Two tough races were run on Saturday and the team that mastered the conditions best were the German/US combo of Jens Findel and Stuart Park sailing Ali Meller's classic yacht. Winning the day with a 2,2 scoreline. Moving up into overal contention was Jan and Drew with a 1,3 but with a race win and a drop now in play it was Mike and Carl who moved into the lead, on countback from Jan and Drew, with Chris and Jesse two points further back. A lovely dinner on the lawn at Easport Yacht Club followed sailing, supported this time by Rooster.
All to play for now on Sunday, with a plan for 3 races. The first race was won by Howie and Jeff in a photo finish with Mike and Carl, Chris and Jesse hanging in in 3rd and Jan and Drew 4th. Points very tight now at the top. The seventh race saw a new boat at the front, this time the Australian/US combo of Michael Quirk and Curtis Hartmann taking the win from Chris and Jesse. Keeping it tight Jan and Drew finished 3rd but Mike and Carl only managed a 7th to open the door wide. Tied for first were Chris/Jesse with Jan/Drew on 17 points, Mike and Carl on 19.
Adding a twist 7th in the preceding race meant Mike and Carl would be the pathfinders, forcing them to the less favored right hand corner. Fortunately for them both the other protagonists managed to have less than stellar starts, with Jan and Drew being bounced out to the right. Chris and Jesse managed to find a lane and get out to the left rounding in the first couple with Mike and Carl buried in the middle and Jan and Drew near the back. Chris and Jesse moved through to the lead, but behind them Mike and Carl moved into top gear moving through the fleet. By the last top mark they rounded hot on their heels and proceeded to pass them on the run to the finish.
However, second was enough to secure the win for Chris and Jesse and the well deserved title of East Coast Champions in a very hotly contested event. Many boats were showing good speed throughout the event and it will be a very interesting World Championships in a years time and Chris and Jesse certainly shortening their odds of winning.
A really well run event by Sandy and her excellent race management team from SSA and EYC on and off the water. Roll on the Worlds.