The arrival, of a summer north easter has slightly rearranged the competition schedule at the eighth annual C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta being held from Sail Newport, Rhode Island's public sailing center.
The clinic that is the hallmark of this event took place on Monday morning as planned, however, a north-northeasterly breeze that was gusting to 29 knots kept three of the four competing fleets (2.4 Metre, SKUD-18, Sonar and J/22) from putting the chalk-talk lessons into practice. Only the SKUD-18s headed on-the-water to sail with their coach, Betsy Alison
, while the remaining fleets continued working on shore with coaches Craig Guthrie
, Amanda Callahan
and Meg Gaillard
. In the evening the Ferreira family returned for their second consecutive year to cook and serve a traditional clam boil which clearly had made a big impression the first time out as it was standing room only under the tent.
The NNE breeze continue unabated overnight as the persistent storm stalled over most of New England, and when the competitors returned to the venue in the morning for the first day of racing, they were greeted by an a-typical August day - drizzle and a high temperature forecasted to be 15 degrees below average. While under postponement the event organizers made plans to capitalize on the situation so that once the decision was made to cancel racing for the day Plan B went into effect starting with Betsy Alison demonstrating Rule 18, commonly known as "buoy room," on the lawn outside the tent.
The demonstration was to show "not just where the tip of their boat would be entering the three-lane zone
," said Alison, "but also where it is from the helmsman's perspective, so that they see in a 2.4 Metre it's not just three lengths of the boat, but the additional 10' back from where the helmsman is sitting. They get the perspective of what the distance looks like onshore and then they can apply it to that imaginary circle on the water. We also looked at how far the distance is for the J/22, SKUD-18 or Sonar and then from the perspective of the helmsman. When you look at the length of a Sonar (23'), multiply that by three and add in where the helmsman sits when the bow of the boat enters the zone, you're close to 85' or more away from the mark. All of them are calling the zone way too late; this exercise opens peoples eyes up that the zone is farther away than what we naturally perceive. For the blind sailors, the helmsman being able to walk that distance off and have some idea of how many seconds it takes for them to reach the mark was really helpful
Alison's demonstration was followed by a mock protest staged by jury members Bob Conner, Noel Field, Chris Luppens and Mary Savage in which there was active participation from the audience, before the sailors resumed working with their respective coaches.
Among the participants at the 2010 Clagett Regatta is a group of 2.4 Metre sailors who are affiliated with Nepean Sailing Club in Ottawa, Canada. The four sailors are being coached by Peter Wood
who has a long association with the sport through the Canadian Yachting Association, first in the training division and later as Interim Executive Director ( 2008-2009). Wood is also competing in the 2.4 Metre class which is an open class for the first time for this edition of The Clagett. "You don't coach skiing from a snow mobile,"
said Wood, who went on to explain that all four sailors had previous experience with Martin 16s, and have moved to the 2.4 Metre because they want to improve their sailing skills and are looking for a higher level of competition. The goal of the group is the Canada Summer Games, the multi-sport games modeled after the Olympics where sailors with disabilities will make their debut in the 2.4 Metre when the games are next held in 2013.
"You have people like Ken Read doing the tactical stuff, and we have working with us Craig Guthrie who coached Paul Tingley to win the gold medal in this class at the 2008 Paralympic Games in China
." Wood explained that based on a recommendation from a Canadian sailor, the five traveled to The Clagett because it is one of the few 2.4 Metre events in the summer that offer this level of competition and "the coaching component at The Clagett is incredible."