A total eclipse of the full moon in this morning's early hours was a positive sign for the opening day of the fifth annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta.
Under brilliant blue skies, a light northwesterly breeze enhanced comfortable temperatures as 40 sailors representing China, Israel and the U.S.A. launched their boats from the docks at Sail Newport, Rhode Island's Public Sailing Center.
Racing, which started yesterday (28 June) and ends Thursday (August 30), is taking place in the three classes chosen for the 2008 Paralympic Games - the single-person 2.4 Metre, two-person SKUD 18, and three-person Sonar - and over the three day competition the classes will rotate through a staggered schedule.
The SKUD 18s, the skiffs that will make their Paralympic debut next September in China, were up first on Narragansett Bay and completed three races. With finishes of 3-2-1 for six points, 2005 US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Nick SCANDONE (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Maureen McKINNON-TUCKER (Marblehead, Mass.) moved to the top of the scoreboard in that class. In second and third, respectively, with eight points each, are Karen MITCHELL (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) with 2004 Sonar Paralympic Bronze Medallist J.P. CREIGNOU (St. Petersburg, Fla.) after placing 5-1-2, and China's Hailiang JIA with Aiping CAO who finished 2-3-3. Local sailor Sarah EVERHART SKEELS (Tiverton, R.I.), with crew Bob JONES (Seattle, Wash.), won the first race of the day, and added a 4-5 to their scoreline for 10 points to place fourth overall. Scott WHITMAN (Brick, N.J.) and Julia DORSETT (West Chester, Penn.), who are ranked number one in the nation on the U.S. Disabled Sailing Team, had a tougher day with finishes of 4-5-4 for 13 points.
The five sailors racing in the 2.4 Metre class also completed three races that saw Charlie ROSENFIELD (Woodstock, Conn.) taking the lead after earning seven points on finishes of 1-5-1. John RUF (Pewaukee, Wisc.) is second with eight points after finishing 3-3-2, followed by Qi Ming XUE (Beijing, China) who has nine points after finishing 4-1-4. Mark LEBLANC (New Orleans, La.) is fourth overall with nine points from placing 2-2-5, and Ke LI (Beijing, China) is fifth with 12 points on finishes of 5-4-3.
Defending Champions Blaze Into the Lead
In the eight-boat Sonar class, defending champions Rick DOERR (Clifton, N.J.) and Tim ANGLE (Somerville, Mass.) blazed into the lead with crew Bill DONOHUE (Brick, N.J.) after winning the first three races of the day. A third-place finish in the last race of the day brought their total points to six for a five-point lead over the second and third-placed teams who are tied with 11 points apiece.
'Our game plan worked today,' said DOERR as his team put their boat away for the day. 'We made mistakes today, but not more than anyone else. We've spent a lot of time on the water, competing in both open and disabled fleets, and you just can't underestimate the importance of time on the water.' DOERR, ANGLE and DONOHUE have been ranked number one on the U.S. Disabled Sailing Team in the Sonar class for the last two years.
Israel's 2004 Sonar Paralympic Gold Medallists Dror COHEN and Aaron EFRATI, with new teammate Rafael LEVI, are tied with 2000 Paralympian Paul CALLAHAN (Newport/Cape Coral, Fla.) and his crew, 2004 Paralympian Roger CLEWORTH (Lithia, Fla.) and Tom BROWN (Northeast Harbor, Maine) who won Paralympic bronze and silver medals, respectively, in 2000 and 2004, sailing in the 2.4 Metre class.
Racing resumes Wednesday (August 29) at 10:00 a.m. between Rose and Goat Islands in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Spectators can view the action from Goat Island or the northern tip of Fort Adams.
Complete results, photos and additional information can be found at: www.ussailing.net/Clagett/