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Etchells Report JAN ODW 2016

By:  Mike Terry

        USA 1263

        Fleet 13 Secretary

Weather reports for Saturday morning for the January 2016 ODW called for high winds and rain. Sailors arrived to the start area for the 1st race of the New Year only to find no wind and calm seas. A strong storm front sitting off the coast to the north was stalled, preventing the sea breeze from filling in. Numerous small puffs worked their way down the course and finally after 45 minutes the wind filled in steady enough for the PRO to get a race off in 6 knots from 268 degrees.

The fleet split at the start and Dan Aeling (USA 965) led a small group of boats out to the left looking for something out to sea. As the leg developed the boats to the left were rewarded with more velocity and Dan, who was furthest left, led at the mark with Mike Terry (USA 1263) 2nd and the Davis/Sinks Team (USA 1066) 3rd.  The top 3 boats separated from the rest of the fleet and Dan Aeling led wire to wire for the race win.  USA 1066 was able to slip by USA 1263 near the top of second windward leg and held on to finish 2nd with USA 1263 finishing 3rd.

For the start of race two the wind picked up a few knots and then backed a bit making the pin slightly favored. This time Dan Aeling (USA 965) started down the line and went hard right. Andrew Whittome (USA 1283) and Frederic Laffitte (FRA 1281) also broke right early and it was USA 1283, FR 1281 and USA 965 at the 1st windward mark. USA 1283 jibed soon after the mark and led this pack around the course finishing taking the race win. USA 965 was able to slip by USA 1281 mid-course to finish 2nd and USA 1281 held on to finish 3rd.    

Due to the late start time, a third race was not held, so Dan Aeling (USA 965) with crew Joe Holasek and Ashok Suratkal finished the day at the top of the leader board with finishes of 1, 2. Dan, Joe and Ashok have been sailing together for over three years now and have become one of the top Corinthian teams in the fleet so it was great to see all their hard work pay off. 

On Sunday morning the fleet arrived to the starting area to find calm winds again. This time there were large swells and a storm front was now clearly visible out to sea which meant that the storm had moved closer overnight. After an hour and a half delay the sun broke through the cloud cover and the sea breeze filled in around 5 to 7 knots from 265 degrees and it looked like we might be able to get a couple of races in mild conditions.

In the first race of the morning the Davis/Sinks Team (USA 1066) again mastered the light conditions to finish 1st. They pressed around the course by Chris Snow ((USA 1016) who finished a close 2nd. 3rd place went to Ben Munford on (USA 1157).  Ben and crew are a very capable Canadian team that recently won the Six Meter North American Championship that joined us for the series.   

On the last downwind leg to the finish the wind started to pick up dramatically. It was clear that the storm front had arrived and the fleet would be in for a wild ride. Between races the PRO allowed some extra time for crews to get their heavy weather jibs on and retune their boats.  By race start the wind already exceeded 18 knots with large swells and wind whipped chop on top of that. The Davis/Sinks Team (USA 1066), did a great job of making the adjustments for the heavy air conditions. With the help of crew Wally Eaton, heavy air specialist, they started off midline and played the middle right of the course to lead at the 1st mark.  Chris Snow (USA 1018) was close behind him at the first mark and these two boats seemed to excel in the heavy conditions and finished 1, 2.   

For Race 5 the PRO was reporting gusts up to 23 knots. The PRO shorted the course to three legs with an upwind finish. Andrew Whittome (USA 1283) made a commitment to push to the right as the breeze was consistently showing a shift to the right. There was a great 3 way tussle around the entire course with Chris Snow (USA 1018) and David/Sinks Team (USA 1066). Rounding the final leeward mark Chris Snow's jib halyard slipped or broke. USA 1066 went high around USA 1018 and USA 1283 chose to sail low and managed to get our nose out in front. USA 1283 tacked on to Starboard for the finish line and USA 1066 tacked in an effort to lee-bow him. USA 1283 was able to fend off the lee-bow and the 2 boats pushed up the final beat side by side within a few boat lengths of one another. USA 1283 slightly over stood the port lay line and led them to the finish for the race win with USA 1066 finishing 2nd and USA 1018 finished 3rd.            

In both heavy air races there was a large group of boats that were up to speed and right with the leaders which demonstrates the fact that heavy air skills and seamanship goes deep into the fleet. This group included Andy LaDow (USA 985) with finishes of 3, 5 and Kjeld Hestehave (USA 971) with finishes of 4, 6.  Also noteworthy was Summer Greene and team (USA 904), with two women on the boat, finishing 5, 4. Summer, sailing with her husband Ian Trotter as third, had Kris Zillman on the helm for the heavy air races. Kris did and great job in one of the most physically demanding races in recent years.

Based on top finishes in both light and heavy air races the Davis/Sinks Team, with Tyler Sinks skippering, finished on top for the January ODW weekend. Chris Snow came on strong on Sunday to finish 2nd. Andrew Whittome, with race wins in both light and heavy races, finished 3rd.