Martin and Lowry Fourpeat at 2022 North Americans

Following one great day of racing at Midwinters (no breeze on Saturday, nice breeze Sunday) won by Caleb Paine and Stu McNay, the fleet regrouped for the North Americans starting Thursday, again hosted at Clearwater Community Sailing Club.

Thursday started out more southeast and less southwest than expected, but with nice sunshine and crews on the wire. The breeze made its forecasted rightward shift for races 3 and 4, slowly as the day wore on, finally ending with a thrilling sit run last leg (seriously, it was TIGHT) of race four, McNay and Paine started right where they’d left off, with a 1-2-3-1 to lead the day from Howie Hamlin and Jeff Nelson, with Martin/Lowry, Holt/Woelfel, Baird/Anderson, Hagan/Von Grey, Punnett/Mundell and the usual suspects all lurking close behind.

Day 2 brought the fog, but also brought a surprisingly fresh breeze. Mikes Zani and Mills (and how great is it to have Mills back at the regattas?) were the rabbit and surprised a lot of people with a subtle late-in-the-sequence lefty that had people scrambling to get to the line. Martin and Lowry figured it out, along with McNay and Paine. Howie and Jeff got stuck in an absolute coffin corner hole on the first run to sail their first drop, while the increasing fog made calling lay lines a fool’s errand. As the day’s first race finished, the fog rolled in too hard to race. PRO Donna Sue Marks kept a close watch on things, but conditions never improved enough to warrant sending us back out. This turned out to be disastrous as the Dark and Stormy bar opened early ahead of Saturday’s likely 4 races in a fresh and cool northerly. We grow older yet we don’t grow up.

Saturday’s ride out to the course was a good preview of the bumpy breezy day the Gulf had in store, with a chilly grey sky and deeply raked rigs. On the run, port tack was a sleigh ride straight down-wave, with starboard a challenging matrix of high/low, send/surf, and finding a good wave to gybe on. Holt and Woelfel woke up on the right side of the bed and hit a 1-1 in the first 2 races, but let Martin and Lowry join the party and go 1-1 in the much sunnier afternoon, taking their first series lead of the event.

With a 7 point gap favoring Martin/Lowry over McNay/Paine, with Holt/Woelfel one more point back, we left shore on Sunday with most expecting one marginal and maddening shifty/puffy race at best. What we got was absolute champagne for 3 races. McNay and Paine made their best case with a 1-2-1, while Martin and Lowry did just enough with a 5-1-3 to seal another one. Holt/Woelfel stumbled a bit (for them) with a 6-4-4 to remain in third. Howie and Jeff took fourth, with Craig Thompson and JB Turney kept climbing the scoreboard to steal the last trophies.

It’s easy to focus these reports on just the boats fighting it out for the win, but the greater story of this year’s NAs is the competitive health of the Class. There are well