A little bit of practice never hurts, especially in a one-day race. Shazaam, today’s winner of the North Sails Rally Spinnaker division, took advantage of the first day of the St. Petersburg NOOD by sailing in the PHRF 1 division on Friday to prepare. “Practicing on the buoys yesterday made our sets and jibes much smoother today,” says Staci Reed, crew aboard the J/42. “The muscle memory was there. We did six sets and douses yesterday, and two or three jibes per leg, so it helped the back keep everything working today.”
Shazaam, skippered by Roger Gatewood, sailed in the PHRF 1 division on Friday as a practice day, before digging in to the Rally today and taking both line honors and the overall corrected win. “Two things went well for us,” says bowman Brian Wasmunt. “[J/40] Intrepid was with us until the last leg. They were ahead of us, but every rounding we gained about three boat lengths on them. We’d jockey with them each leg, then they’d take off, but we caught up to them in the roundings.”
The North Sails Rally ran a ten mile distance course around six marks in Tampa Bay.
“The last leg was the most defining for us,” says Wassmunt. “It got light, but we laid a line from really far out and we were able to make it. A lot of the other boats weren’t’ able to lay the line, and it started getting shifty when we finished. Wing it got stuck in a huge hole at the last leg. We put distance on everyone in the last leg. It was a little bit of luck.”
“St. Pete is like my second home, I love it here, ” says Rick Doerr, sailing aboard Valiant for the US Sailing Team Sperry Paralympic Team. “It’s a tough fleet; we have a lot of good sailors. We have a Paralympic gold medalist, a couple of world championships, and the recent world cup champion.”
Doerr is one of four Paralympic hopeful teams sailing in St. Pete this weekend. Though in their World Championships they sail against other Paralymipc teams, here they have a chance to go up against the entirety of the Sonar fleet. “It’s a benefit to sail against both each other and the able-bodied fleet,” says Doerr. “We have to take our racing practice where we can, and have good teams as markers to practice against. We’re challenging them as much as they’re challenging us.”
Doerr and his team, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund, are currently five points ahead of the other US Paralympic team from the US Sailing Team Sperry vying for the Olympic berth. But, the lead is far from comfortable. “We’re happy to be besting the British sailors who won the World Cup last year,” says Doerr of their performance. “The top of the para-worlds fleet was only separated by points. Here in St. Pete, this happens to be our regatta. It’s anyone’s game out there.”
For full results, click here.
For more on the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Series, click here.