June 24, 2018

Day Three of racing at the North American 5.5 Regatta dawned with rain and dark clouds, but by race time the rain clouds had moved on. Grey skies prevailed but no rain fell on the race course.

The day began with USA 51 Purple Haze and CAN 22 Nantoria all tied up with three firsts and three second place finishes apiece, setting the stage for a showdown of sailing strategy.

A pre-race collision put Summer School out of competition for the day. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but the crash put the fleet on edge resulting in two boats jumping the line early in the day’s first race.

However, the 360 degree penalty turn didn’t stop Nantoria from continuing her drive for the winner’s podium and she would sail cleanly to the line, chalking up her fourth first place finish and beating Purple Haze. In what has become a familiar finish CAN 79 O’Kelly kept her solid grip on third as skipper Don Cameron continues to fine tune her rig.

With steady 15 knot winds the race committee opted for a distance race setting the stage for a seven-nautical-mile triangular challenge.

It was another strong start with all six racers away cleanly and packed tightly across the line. The fleet would soon spread out and by two thirds through Nantoria rounded Snake Island with a clear lead that looked untouchable. Skipper John Lister opted for white sails only for the beam reach while Purple Haze’s Dan Rossi popped her chute to try to overtake but it wasn’t to be and Nantoria registered another first place finish with a comfortable two minute margin of victory in the almost two hour race.

O’Kelly came home in third to keep her streak alive.

Behind them a battle was brewing down the length of the bay with USA 102 Aeolus II and C 5.5 30 Summer sailing just metres. Summer’s skipper Dean Harker said, “The best part of the day was the last leg of the race where our two boats sailed within a couple of feet of each other for the whole leg.”

Evenly matched the boats were completely focused on each other along the south side of the bay, mirroring every move through the leg with spinnakers flying.

With all eyes on the south side CAN 30 Jill quietly took the north edge of the bay and with a perfectly positioned spinnaker made huge gains making the run for the line interesting. Summer pulled ahead to finish in 1:54.44, Aeolus II would cross at 1:55.49 and Jill was hot on her heels at 1:55.57.

Jill’s skipper Harley Armstrong is thoroughly enjoying his first 5.5 experience. “It was a great day on the water. The 5.5 class is something special and meeting the people and learning their stories is so interesting. Our crew learned a lot on the long distance race with time to tweak the boat to really get her running. They’re an interesting boat to sail, but a different animal completely from what I am used to sailing.”

With two races scheduled for the final day of racing on Sunday the battle between Nantoria and Purple Haze is red hot and there for the taking.

For the first time this year racers are competing for the North American 5.5 Classic Cup generously donated by German Thies Först.

Först donated the silver trophy in appreciation for the hospitality he, Kaspar Stubenrauch and Dr. Ekkehard Schlichtenhorst enjoyed when the German threesome competed at the Nor Am 5.5 Regatta in 2017.

USA 102 Aeolus II and C 5.5 30 Summer would spend most of the distance race twinned, mirroring each other’s moves through the seven nautical mile distance race.

CAN 30 Jill nearly caught USA 102 Aeolus II at the line after almost two hours on the long distance course in an exciting finish to an excellent race.