Ender Racing Team recently competed in the very first regatta hosted by the Chicago Match Race Center on June 6th and 7th in Tom28's. The Grade3 event came on the heels of the BYC Grade3 Invitational in which our team competed well, won every race but the last two, and finished second in the event. With that regatta behind us and having had several days of intense practice leading up to this event, we were comfortable going into this event.
We had an extreamly talented crew, although it was everyone's first match race regatta. Jack Jennings, John Poast, and Dave Jochum rounded out our four man crew. Dave flew in from D.C. to sail the event; but John, Jack, and I sail together regularly at the CMRC on tuesday and friday nights.
It was breeze on for the first day of the event and we quickly picked up where the Ender Team left off in the last event, winning all of our races and finishing the long day at 7-0 with the next best record at 5-2. It has been a while since I have felt this comfortable on the starting line, I feel like im easing back into driving a match race; we still have a long way to go, but at least we are moving in the right direction. Being so comfortable on the line helped me to execute Jack's plan and put the boat in the spot that we wanted for the first beat; that, and virtually perfect crew work really pushed us over the top in the races on the first day. We sailed smart, calculated races...never put ourselves in vulnerable spots, and executed our maneuvers when the time came. We were really firing on all cylinders....and looking back on it, we were only really tested once or twice on Saturday.
The format for the regatta was interesting. A full Round Robin followed by a best-of-five knockout series seeded by the results of RR#1...so, 1v8, 2v7, 3v6...etc. The breeze was very light in the morning; and, not knowing what the OA was going to do we were very happy to be sitting in 1st at the beginning of the day. With such a talented group of sailors in the fleet (CVT, Taylor Canfield, Don Wilson, Dave Wagner, Debbie Cappozi, Jen Wilson, and Steve Lowery), the ability to choose who we sail against is a huge advantage. Luckily though the breeze quickly shifted and filled in and we went forward with the second round. We drew Jen Wilson and were luckly enough to quickly win the first three races, moving on before the wind got squirly again. 10-0. The other three matches all went the distance. Wagner def. Lowery, Cappozi def. CVT, and Wilson came from behind to beat Canfield.
So the final four was set and it was up to us to pick who we sailed against. The decision was tough because, while none of the teams beat us, all three of those teams sailed us very close. Cappozi was by far the toughest race we had, she consistently put her boat in the perfect spot and made very few errors...I thought we only capitalized on one quick shift off the line, and from there we held control the whole time against her, it could have easily gone the other way though. So she was immediately out. Our first round race against Don Wilson was interesting too. We won the start but Don and Bill Hardesty kept their boat in a great spot up the beat, closed the gap and kept it close. Fortunately fr us, during a tacking duel Don misjudged the distance and clipped our stern as he brought his boat through a tack. That race was close as well...and Bill is a tough guy to pin down...I mean, come on, the dude is a world champion; he definately has some tricks up his sleeve....and with our goal being to keep moving on we tossed Wilson out of our choices, leaving Wagner. It proved to be a good decision as we beat Wagner 2-0 in the semi-finals and got ready for the Cappozi-Wilson winner. 12-0.
Debbie took Don the distance but didnt have enough in the end, and ultimately Don won, moving on to the finals. We were ready....I thought.
I still remember how the whole thing played out. The first start, with 1min left, Don lead back to the pin, I went for the hook late in the sequence and got it. Luffing him and slowing him off the line....that was all we needed and we won the first race of the best-of-three finals. 13-0...needing one more to win the whole thing. One out of two...I used to like those odds...ha.....hmmmmm.
To be honest, all I could think of was the previous regatta...in the same position, 10-0 going into the last two races....and I didnt want that to happen again. Well, negative thoughts have a wierd way of manifiesting themselves sometimes. Have I used enough foreshadowing yet? Can you figure out what happened?
In the second race we lead the whole time, rounded the last weather mark four lengths ahead and basically had the thing wrapped up. Don went high, we followed to hold him off...at this point we were approaching the layline to the pin....all we had to do was jybe away when they started to get on our breeze....unfortunately I wasnt thinking about this, and I went for the luff. Stupid. We rolled out, they passed us, jybed, and won the race. All I HAD TO DO WAS JYBE! Dumb.
The third race was a personal disaster, Don, Bill, Matt Cassidy, and Hans Pusch just flat out beat us. I went for the hook again, late in the sequence; only this time they were ready for it and they controlled us off the line and around the course. Race over, regatta over. 13-2 and second place, again.
The only good thing to come out of this is experience....and points. A 2, 2 in two Grade3's isnt bad...and now I realize one of my biggest weaknesses. Our team sailed well, I just didnt have it, mentally, in the end. Oh well, we'll be back again. It really is about the journey, not the destination. There is always another match race. Congrats to Don, Bill, Matt, and Hans, those guys sailed well and flat out beat us in the finals........
..but seriously though, its like a bad dream. Hopefully one of these days I wake up and string a whole regatta together.