Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buzzards Bay Regatta 2008

From Southcooast, August 2,2008
By Barbara Veneri
Standard-Times correspondent
August 02, 2008 6:00 AM

David Risch was bracing for a long, frustrating day. When he should have been shouting directions to his seven-member crew aboard Corsair, all he could do was have them practice setting the spinnaker.

"It looks like today's going to be a light load day," Risch said Friday morning as the 36th annual Buzzards Bay Regatta was scheduled to get under way.

But he would eat those words three hours later when the southwesterlies blew up the bay at 18 knots.

The Standard-Times got an up-close and personal look at racing Friday aboard Corsair, a 40-foot C & C from the Beverly Yacht Club, host of this year's regatta in Buzzards Bay outside Sippican Harbor.

Racing continues today and Sunday in 16 classes for more than 420 boats and more than 1,200 sailors in one of the East Coast's premier yacht races.

Finally given the all-clear to race a little after noon — smaller boats closer to shore had begun racing at 10:30 — Terry Watson of Duxbury hung over the bow of Corsair as 17 boats in the PHRF 2 racing class jockeyed to be first over the starting line without going over early.

"Try and stay in the center of the course," Watson yelled back to Risch.

Watson, who worked the foredeck and the mainsail along with Bob Kostyla of Marion, returned to his position in the bow at the start of three races, which that got more grueling as the day wore on.

Even with the 3-knot air, the PHRF 2 class made it over the line by 12:15 p.m. Three boats ahead of Corsair raced over the line too early and were forced to turn around and restart. At least one, X-Dimension, made up time on the next two legs of the race.

Halfway through the first upwind tack, the southwesterly wind came up. "Now, we're making tracks," Risch said.

Each race consisted of four legs, upwind and downwind twice over the 1.4-mile course, totaling 5.6 nautical miles — if the boats moved in a straight line.

But they don't. On one leg, Corsair took three tacks before rounding the windward mark; on another leg, one long starboard tack did the trick, before Risch brought the boat about in preparation for raising the spinnaker.

"This is our first chute race in years," said Risch. Aboard Corsair, he has raced mostly in the PHRF Cruising class, where spinnakers are not flown, at the past few BBR's.

With guys and sheets, foreguys, lazy guys, halyards and topping lifts, spinnakers are tough to get up in the best conditions. Chris Kostyla, 22, scrambled around the deck tugging and fixing, as the spinnaker rose to the top of the forestay, gybed, or came down at the next mark. As he was setting the spinnaker during Race 2, Watson's leg got caught in a jib sheet and he nearly went over the side.

Diane Kelley of Portsmouth, N.H., and "pit girl" for the day, held onto Watson's lifejacket, freeing up both hands so he could pull errant lines out of the water, rescuing him from a near-soaking.

Kelley's job meant moving below when the spinnaker came down to pull it into the boat and rearrange it for the next downwind leg. During the final leg of the second race as the boat approached the finish line, the red, yellow, blue, brown and green spinnaker started to tear at the top.

"Be careful when you take it down guys," Risch yelled. "We don't want it to rip any more."

Even with repair tape aboard, Risch switched to a heavier silver-gray spinnaker for the third race.

After each race, Risch polled the crew — Watson, the two Kostylas, Tim Herring of Wareham, and the "afterguard" of John Collins and Charlie Burnett, both of Marion — about how the race went, or "lessons learned."

Strategy on the second race — the best of the three aboard Corsair in terms of strategy, tactics, and just plain exciting moments — meant approaching the upwind mark from a port tack, which some competitors heading for the same mark at the same time on starboard tack did not take to kindly.

Between the second and third races, the downwind mark shifted about a quarter mile to the west, frustrating Herring, Corsair's navigator.

"Either they (the race committee) moved the mark," he said, "or it moved on its own." Herring sat in the nav station below working the Chart View Pro software connected to the GPS, in order to call up tacking recommendations to Risch.

What Herring told Risch was based on a "comparison of angles," he said, to get the boat where it needed to go faster and most efficiently. The relocated windward mark caused Herring to call up some bad advice, for which he apologized when he came topside to view the lay line himself.

During the third race, when every mark rounding brought a new emergency as sheets got caught around other lines, the jib curled around the forestay, or the spinnaker pole got stuck on the roller furling gear, Collins noted, "it's strange how you can have a great race like we did (in the second race), then have one like this that's in the 'Twilight Zone.'"

"We did pretty well out there today," Risch said as Corsair headed into Sippican Harbor just before 6 p.m.

Barbara Veneri covers sailing for The Standard-Times. Contact her at

Island Heights Junior Olympics

Story and photo from Asbury Park Press, July 30,2008. (Photo by Shawn Huber/Asbury Park Press #42210)

ISLAND HEIGHTS — Little cockleshell boats with snub noses are a familiar sight on Barnegat Bay, where they are often piloted by budding sailors who have not even been riding bicycles very long. But put an Optimist pram tiller in an aggressive hand, and it's a racer.

"It was challenging because the wind was very shifty. But I followed the shifts so I almost won the second race," Cally Tullo, 13, said as she and twin sister Holly wheeled their boats ashore at the end of this week's Junior Olympics sailing regatta on Barnegat Bay and the Toms River.

Some 350 young sailors from as far away as Maine and Puerto Rico competed this week in the annual Mid-Atlantic Junior Olympics Sailing Festival regatta on Barnegat Bay and the Toms River, concluding today with a series of events hosted by the Island Heights Yacht Club.

"People from here have gone on to the Olympics and college sailing," said Frank Parisi, a past commodore of the club. "You could call this the lifeblood of the sport."

"It started 26 years ago when Len Egee and Vicky Duff started it as a regatta to attract the better young sailors on Barnegat Bay," explained regatta co-chairman Buzz Reynolds. In 2000, organizers applied for and received sanction from U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport and sailing Olympics in America, and now "it attracts a lot of the top junior sailors," Reynolds said.

In the final race for advanced Optimist pram sailors, Allyson Donahue of Brigantine crossed the finish line first, followed closely by Cally Tullo of Staten Island and Mantoloking.

Both 13-year-olds are members of the Long Beach Island Optimist Sailing Team and spend much of their summer on the competition trail, from the Optimist nationals at Patchogue, N.Y., last week to an international regatta next weekend in Kingston, Ontario. The Tullo twins and their LBI teammates placed high in the final scores, with LOST team members Scott Barbano and Connor Swikart in first and second place in the advanced "gold" class.

"It's really fun to sail (the Optimist) because it's really easy to rig," Tullo said. The Junior Olympics regatta is different from most of the season's Barnegat Bay events because of its sheer size, Donahue said.

"We just got back from the national championships in Long Island, and that was 400 boats," Donahue said. Like Tullo, one of her ambitions is to move up to the 420, a nearly 14-foot-long sailing dinghy: "It's faster because it's bigger and has two sails."

The 420 and the Laser Radial are two other classes featured in the Junior Olympics, with abundant trophies for all three classes in various age divisions, Reynolds said.

"Beyond the sailing we also teach sportsmanship," with the Egee and Duff Sportsmanship Trophy bestowed as a top honor, Reynolds said. The Martin Trophy, named for former Island Heights junior sailor Richie Martin, is awarded to the participating yacht club or sailing organization with the most first-, second- and third-place winners, he said. The top 10 sailors in each class and age division receive medals.

About 180 volunteers help run the event, from preparing food to finding accommodations for visiting sailors with local families, club members said. For two days the Island Heights riverfront was jammed with trucks and trailers. One Annapolis, Md., club showed up with several carloads of sailors and trailers full of boats. The most distant teams came from Bermuda and Puerto Rico, Reynolds said.

It is exciting for the volunteers because they feel they are nurturing sailing DNA in the next generation, and sailors bred on Barnegat Bay's traditions have gone onto great things, Parisi said.

Results: Club 420s, Laser Radial, Opti Gold, Opti Silver