Regatta Report: Area B Qualifier for Bemis/Smythe hosted by American Yacht Club

Sailors started arriving at American Yacht Club on Friday evening for the Area B Qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and Sunday July 16 and 17. The top 2 sailors in the Laser Radial Class and top 2 teams in the 420, would qualify to sail at the Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego at the Championship in August. Sailors came from clubs in associations throughout Area B including Peconic Gardner Junior Sailing, the Great South Bay, ECSA, as well as several JSA member clubs.

Saturday morning, after a 2-hour postponement on shore, the two fleets finally had enough breeze to get out to the racecourse. There were 22 Lasers and 19 420s on the line. Light southeast winds and considerable chop on the Sound presented challenging conditions for PRO Mike Levesque, a US Sailing certified Regional Race Officer who came to AYC to run the races. Mike and the AYC Race Committee were able to run 2 races on Saturday before the threat of thunderstorms from the south forced the fleet back to the harbor for the day. Fortunately the sailors were able to enjoy a Saturday evening BBQ at AYC before departing for housing.

Sunday’s conditions were not much improved, and again after a postponement on land, the fleets were able to sail a third race in light conditions. Scott McKinney (420) who was in 2nd going into the day, said that the key was to not get frustrated in the boat, keeping speed out of tacks and staying confident in tactical decisions was crucial during that race. Clare Cassidy-Gardner said “The conditions were tough– being that there was barely any wind and a lot of choppy waves. And not to mention, it was a scorching hot weekend. However, the way I pushed through was that I constantly kept reminding myself to “deal with adversity”. As US Olympic Youth Development Director, Leandro Spina, explained to me: that being a sailor means learning how to deal with adversity. After a long third race, Levesque moved the course further east, but finally by 3:00 it was apparent that racing was concluded for the day.

Top honors in the Laser Radial Class went to John Patrick Panarella of Shelter Island Yacht Club with 12 points, and Lindsay Powers of American Yacht Club with 17 points. The 420 fleet was won by Scott McKinney and Clare Cassidy-Gardner of Orient Yacht Club, with 8 points, and Max Anker and Christopher Lukens of Riverside Yacht Club, with 9 points. McKinney wanted to point out that Michele Lahrkamp and Gabriella DelBello sailed an amazing regatta with two bullets on the first day. The two elected to retire after unknowingly breaking c420 class rules by switching to new sails for the second day of competition. McKinney sees this as a great showing of sportsmanship and Corinthian spirit by Lahrkamp and DelBello.

Congratulations to all of the Area B Qualifiers and good luck at Mission Bay Yacht Club, August 11-15.