Monday, October 28, 2013

Michigan Takes Small Keelboat Invite for the First Time

           This past weekend six Michigan sailors made the trip to Annapolis, Maryland to compete at the Naval Academy in their fleet of Colgate 26’s. Alex Ramos (’15) skippered, with Tanner DePriest (’14) on main trim/float, Jason Doyle (’14) on headsail trim, and Kirsten Boelkins (’15) on the bow. Nick Lipinski (’17) and Max Odena (’16) tagged along as well as alternates and shore crew. (Although the lunches were forgotten on Saturday as no snacktician was officially appointed. A rookie mistake.)

Naval Academy Sailing Center
We left Ann Arbor Thursday afternoon, putting us in Annapolis at 1:30 AM. Alex’s parents Karen and Dave Ramos graciously hosted us and put up with a group of college sailors in their home for the second weekend in a row. (Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ramos!) Friday was a practice day, with sailing starting at 1500. The team didn’t quite make their anticipated wake-up call of 0900 due to a small dehumidifier malfunction in the basement of the Ramos’s, so we arrived at the Naval Academy around 2:00 for a quick lunch and to rig. Friday saw a wind range of 18-22 with gusts higher, making for an interesting first day on the boat. However, practice went flawlessly and got us very confident going into racing. We saw a “boomer” submarine as well, prior to getting chased away by its support rib for getting “too close.”

Racing started Saturday with a first warning at around 1015. Breeze was moderate, in the range of 12-15, but noticeably picking up. We finished 2nd in the first race of the regatta, behind Mass Maritime. The second race saw winds 20-22 knots, and in the heavier breeze we were able to finish 1st. Our boat handling in the higher wind was superior to the fleet and we cruised to the finish with a substantial lead. Shortly after the 2nd race, the course was moved up the river to escape the building wind pressure on the bay. 5 more races were run in extremely shifty breeze with a range of 8-15 knots and puffy. We captured a 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, and 3rd in the remaining races on Saturday.

Going into Sunday racing with a comfortable 5 pt lead over Penn, we knew our crew work was great so the focus was on a good start in order to get off the line and capitalize on the first wind shift. We ended up having our best race of the regatta, winning race one on Sunday by half a leg. Race 2 was a tough start for us and involved a gutsy move to attempt a toss set with the spinnaker, our only poor set of the day and we ended up 4th in the race, still protecting our lead over Penn and the Navy teams. In the third race, we had incredible beat legs thanks to Alex’s calls and great sail trim. Our boat speed was tops in the regatta from start to finish. A 1st to end the regatta resulted in a total point score of 24, 13 pts ahead of the second place team from Navy. It was an impressive win and a good way to increase the visibility of our offshore team as we look to compete in more and more big boat events in the future!
-Jason Doyle '14