June 23, 2018
Day 2 served up stronger winds and had skippers on their toes at the North American 5.5 Regatta. White caps in the bay signaled 10 to 12 knot winds with gusts to 19 knots, a far cry from yesterday’s light breezes.
Skippers had to be sharp at the line as everyone was raring to go, jockeying for best position in the gusty winds.
CAN 31 Summer School, skippered by Jeff Brooks, was out to an early lead and looking sharp. By the windward mark USA 51 Purple Haze was in the lead with CAN 79 O’Kelly hot on her heels.
After some confusion at the start, yesterday’s leader CAN 22 Nantoria started Race 1 at the back of the fleet but used the full course to gain ground and challenge for top spot. Taking the opposite line to Purple Haze rounding the final pin it came down to the finish with Purple Haze in front by the slimmest of margins – barely one second ahead, for an exciting finish. CAN 79 O’Kelly took third place.
Purple Haze skipper Dan Rossi said, “The wind filled in nicely to provide some competitive and spirited racing today with some exchanges of words and a few bumps as everyone pushed for advantage.”
Reading the wind early was key in the shifty conditions. “Spotting the wind and wind lines and getting to them first created opportunities to get to the mark ahead of the fleet and create important separation,” Rossi said.
With one windy race under their helms skippers were ready for Race 2 conditions. It saw another jammed start at the horn but the fleet split off the line. Nantoria took the southern line with CAN 30 Jill and USA 102 Aeolus II in hot pursuit while the rest of the fleet took the north run. Purple Hazerounded first and the race was on.
Nantoria skipper John Lister said, “Today was such a good contrast to yesterday. There were lots of shifts to keep it exciting and the fleet was closer together which made for excellent racing.”
Tactics were important as the lead changed several times and well executed spinnaker runs were the difference as boats battled for position.
Nantoria prevailed to cross the line first with Purple Haze 20 seconds behind. O’Kelly put in some excellent transitions to maintain her spot solidly in third.
Thanks to shifting winds the race committee reset the course for Race 3 and skippers were chomping at the bit by the time the race got underway with all the boats crossed the line within a boat length.
Purple Haze jumped out for an early lead with Summer School again taking chase. Nantoria took the east route and fell off with Purple Haze well ahead at the turn and O’Kelly gaining ground.
USA 102 Aeolus II and C 5.5 30 BI were duking it out for third on the long spinnaker run, trading places repeatedly to keep it interesting.
Purple Haze cleared the leeward mark and was well away before a log jam saw four boats needing to sort it out. Nantoria cleared to take second and Summer School cruised in for third place with Summer 11 seconds behind.
Summer School skipper Jeff Brooks said, “Today’s races offered many action-packed starts and multiple lead changes during the races to keep it interesting. It’s a dream to sail Summer School and be part of the 5.5 Regatta.”
One important aspect of the Nor-Am 5.5 is preserving and rejuvenating these classic boats while introducing new recruits to pursue the passion. Loaner boats see guest skippers at the helm and several skippers welcome aboard novice sailors. Travelling from Austin, Texas to sail with her uncle Dan Rossi, Andi Rocino said, “For me it was an unforgettable experience. I’m inspired to keep sailing.”
Action continues Saturday and Sunday.
CAN 31 Summer School had a strong day crossing in third in Race 3
USA 102 Aeolus II and C 5.5 30 Summer duked it out for much of the third race.