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26 May 2005, 02:27 pm
SNOW Comes From Behind To Win
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J/24 U.S. National Championship 2005
Seattle, Washington

High winds returned to Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington, USA, on Sunday for the last day of the J/24 U.S. National Championship regatta, including a 37-knot puff that tossed the boats around like toothpicks. About six boats were knocked on their sides by the gust, two fully capsized, and one of those two turned all the way over and sank.
Three of the five crewmembers of Magic Hat were pitched into the water as the boat turned over, while the other two managed to scramble onto the boat's bottom as it rotated until the mast was straight down and the keel was sticking straight up.

None were injured, and a chase boat operated by Seattle Corinthian Yacht Club and a spectator boat owned by Seattle Sailing Club were on the scene before Magic Hat went down. From the time it capsized, it took about a minute for the boat to sink.

Meanwhile, racing continued off Seattle's Shilshole Bay Marina, and Chris SNOW of San Diego came from behind to win his fourth national championship in the class. SNOW and his boat Bogus took a first and two thirds in Sunday's racing.

SNOW, with a total of 25 points, overtook David 'Deke' KLATT of Ventura, California, who led after the first two days of the event but finished just one point behind SNOW.

In third place was Keith WHITTEMORE of Seattle, with 28 points. WHITTEMORE's boat capsized when the big puff went through the fleet, laying on its side for about a minute before the crew managed to right it and recover to finish second in the race, the day's final contest.

SNOW said he and his crew went into Sunday's racing with a plan, 'We knew we had to beat Deke in every race' he said. 'The first race, we had a good start and he was 15th off the line.'

SNOW finished far enough ahead of KLATT to pick up nine points in the first two races. Going into the third and final race, the two were tied, but SNOW finished just ahead of KLATT to claim the championship.

As for the big gust, SNOW said, 'We saw it coming and we took the spinnaker down before it hit.' Crewing for SNOW were Andrew KERR of Olympia, foredeck, Graham BIEHL of San Diego, mast, Willem VAN WAAY of San Diego, sail trimmer, and Mark BRINK of Seattle, tactician.

Magic Hat, the boat that sank, was owned by Brian NAGLE of Snohomish: 'We were firing down wind, doing pretty well, and we thought we had the boat under control,' he said. 'But the puff just pushed the boat over.'

NAGLE was not sure why the boat turned all the way over, rather than righting itself, as J/24s usually do when they 'broach' while sailing down wind.

In addition to the numerous boats knocked down and the capsizing, an untold number of spinnakers were shredded by the big puff.

The rest of the time Sunday, winds were in the 18-20 knot range, a far cry from Saturday, when race managers got off just one race before the wind quit and the boats headed back to the marina.

On Friday, the first day of the event, the wind was about 15 knots. A strong gust also blew through the fleet Friday. But at about 25 knots, it was well short of Sunday's fury. 47 boats competed in the event, co-hosted by Seattle Corinthian Yacht Club and Seattle Yacht Club.

Bruce Sherman. Image, Action from Saturday:© Jason Estes, Borrowed Light Images
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