Cambridge 2008

(by Paul Hull)


The real stars of the Cambridge Regatta were the members of the

Race Committee. They set amazingly consistent starting lines, perfectly

calculated in all but the last race to allow only the most skillful sailors

to start on starboard tack in the gradually increasing southwest breeze on

the superheated Saturday of July 19th. Only long experience and great

concentration allowed some skippers to squeeze up and around the pin before

slowly tacking to port. While the breeze played tricks on this careful

planning in the first race (it went right in the middle of the beat

scrambling the fleet) it became more consistent in races 3 and four when the

shifts proved uneven and unpredictable. The less skilled sailors like Bill

and Barbara Lane who, knowing full well they didnít have the goods to compete

on starboard took the easy way out and won the pin on port in races 2 and 3

(itís so almost like cheating it ought to be illegal). They still got a

little mixed up in the shifts and although they prevailed didnít run away

with the regatta. In fact, all of the nine competitors had one or more bad

races and four different boats won races.

But the wind didnít fool the RC in the middle three races. They set the

weather mark right on the port tack layline and it stayed there (remember it

was there as well in the first race but the wind sadly shifted). This makes

for pure sailboat racing. If you start right at the pin on port there is no

need to tack. Sail in a straight line and pop around the mark. Ask Bill

Lane. If youíre fast and have good concentration and can keep the boat

pointed right at the mark you win. Simple

Celebrity attorney Sandy McAllister, sailing with April Elliott won the first

race (this is actually according to an old script: Sandy is supposed to win

the first race in Cambridge) but then discovered that he had to sail the rest

of the regatta. Another top and bottom notable sailor was David Cox sailing

with Hayley Crowder. David had three outstanding races (2, 2, 3)and two less

than outstanding races. As I suggested the race course was confusing although

Bobby Lippincott with aspiring rock star (possibly of the Hollywood variety

if not exactly the best Penguin crew in the known world quite yet) crew Read

Beigel was only confused in the 7th race and only lost first place in

a tiebreaker to Bill and Barb.

Ed Lutz and Arianne Dalton were the most consistent of all keeping their

scores very close indeed. And Ed gets the hardluck runner up award for being

holed by an errant Laser. (At least he didnít get mangled by an El Toro)

Scott Williamson and new Penguin sailor Aubrey Barringer brought out Thunder

Chicken as well as mom and the kids for a family outing in beautiful

Cambridge. As the wind increased Scott could have used another crew about the

same size as Aubrey.

New Penguin sailors Bob and Rusty Gray suffered a number of gear failure

misfortunes. Go home, patch it up and come back. Welcome to the

Penguin fleet.

The champion hard luck sailor in this regatta was Monty Baker who fell out of

his boat on the way out to the fourth race and was rescued by crew Ashley

Garrett. Then after racing to a solid third place in the race he lost his

rudder at the leeward mark rounding. This can ruin even the worst day and is

a slow way to start the second beat.

In addition to the carefully set lines and courses the race committee

also instituted a new dinghy starting sequence. One gun at three minutes and

one gun at the start and a variety of flags in the middle. An excellent way to

keep everyone on their toes and looking at their watches. No extraneous

confusing and unnecessary sounds to distract the racers from the start. There

is no doubt that this sequence needs to be in the next rule change and I plan

to sent it upto U.S. Sailing as soon as I get the flag sequence memorized.

The last race was certainly the most confusing of all. Perversely, the wind

went right in the last minute favoring the committee boat by about 5degrees

and all that careful ďget to the pin anyway you canĒ training of the first

four races was wasted. It just goes to show that good sailors and good race

committees can never trust the wind.

Cambridge is one of the finest small boat venues on the East Coast and we are

all very thankful that the Cambridge Yacht Club holds this regatta annually.