Plenty of breeze and plenty of action were on tap for yesterday's final races to conclude the elimination series for the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy (ICCT).
The sight of F18HTs flying along Narragansett Bay was in stark contrast to their ability to seemingly stop and start on a dime. Even veteran race committee member Pam Kirk (Portsmouth, R.I.) couldn't get over the speed with which these catamarans can accelerate. "I was counting down to the start and there were no boats in my peripheral vision at four seconds,"
said Kirk. "I kept thinking 'do they know we're starting, do they know we're starting,' and then bam, they flew past me from behind."
Events which feature match racing using catamarans are a rarity, so while this XXIII running of the event is proving exciting to watch, it is also challenging the participants - more familiar with fleet racing to think outside the box. Off the water, the post-race debrief (critiques familiar to sailors who regularly match or team race) have been informative, not to mention entertaining and lively courtesy of the camaraderie among the competitors who have enthusiastically embraced this novel event.
"Racing essentially begins at four minutes prior to the gun,"
explained Mark MURRAY (USA) "when, hopefully, you can cause your opponent to make mistakes."
Murray, and crew Charles BARMONDE were tied through the first two days of the elimination series with Chris BROWN and WF OLIVER (USA), representing Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.
Murray and Barmonde pulled ahead to finish the round robin 3-3 with Brown and Oliver 2-4, only to lose the semi-finals to Brown and Oliver in two straight races. John LOVELL and crew Charlie OGLETREE (USA), representing Southern Yacht Club, were undefeated in the round robin and received a bye for the semi-final round. They continued their undefeated streak with two wins over Brown and Oliver to be named the Defender. Two-time Olympians, Lovell and Ogletree just returned to the U.S.A. from Cadiz in Spain where at the ISAF World Championship they qualified the 2004 Olympic berth in the Tornado class. They will compete for the right to represent the U.S.A. in Athens at the Olympic Trials in February.
Alberto SONINO and Edward CANEPA appeared to have the edge as they maintained their series lead through the conclusion of the Challenger's round robin, posting a 6-2 win-loss record over Daniele SARAGONI and crew Teo Di BATTISTA at 4-4. Massimiliano "Max" SIRENA and Paolo BASSANI, representing Vela Club Marano Riccione, went 2-6. Saragoni and Di Battista then went 2-1 over Sirena and Bassani, to pit the two teams representing Club Nautico Rimini against each other for the finals. Pulling off an upset, Saragoni and Di Battista went 2-1 over Sonino and Canepa to become the Challenger. Through an interpreter, the humble Saragoni observed that because Sonino was a good sailor, his win was a good result. A residential architect, the 39 year-old Saragoni, is the Italian and European champion in the Javelin catamaran class.
Racing for the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy will continue after today's planned lay day. The Defender and Challenger will compete head-to-head in a best four out of seven series for the Trophy on Thursday and Friday, October 2-3.
Further information and news is available on the event website at the address below.