MARBLEHEAD, Mass.–Sailors tune the rigs of their boats just like musicians tune their instruments. But when sailors tension their stays and reposition masts, they are not looking for pitch: they are looking for speed.
That is exactly what Bruce Dyson–a Marblehead sailor who has taken best-performance trophies at this regatta in both 1999 and 2001–was all too well aware of as he sailed into the start of this 113-year-old event on Thursday.
The rigs in Dysons class of 14 IODs (International One Designs) were all tuned identically for the classs world championship earlier this summer, and that group adjustment made every boat dead-even in speed. Dyson predicted that winning this regatta would be a much harder job than it has been in past years–but it appears that he was wrong.
After opening day, Dyson, a past IOD world champ, is winning the IOD class by four points. The only problem is, someone else is too. Dyson and Ken Drewy of Marblehead are tied in points after three races.
“Ken Drewy is always very quick on the course,” said Dyson, after stepping off his IOD called Gypsy. “But he is quicker than hes ever been… This entire fleet has compressed, and you have to keep your eye on every boat. Because just when you think a competitor is out of the race, hell come out of a corner [of the racecourse] and bite you.”
Points ties for class leads have resulted in three out of the five classes that competed at Race Week on opening day, setting the stage for close contests in this four-day event.
In the 38-boat Rhodes 19 class, the largest fleet competing here at Race Week, three boats are tied in points for the lead. For Jeremy Bloxham of Marblehead, one of the trio of class leaders, today was a game of hunting for wind velocity. “The wind was fairly up and down in velocity today,” said Bloxham. “It was important to stay in those bands of wind.”
As Bloxham looks at the days of racing ahead, what he most hopes for is more wind to power through the large, competitive Rhodes 19 fleet. For Bloxham knows he will need to edge some tough rivals out of the winners circle for a class win, one of which is 2001 class winner Kim Pandapas of Marblehead.
After Thursdays racing, Pandapas is not far away in points and also tied for the lead. For Pandapas, the challenge on opening day was finding his groove in choppy seas–getting enough horsepower from the light winds to power through the lumpy waters. Todays racing took patience, pure concentration–and the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. “I say a silent prayer every time I get in front of Jeremy on the course,” jokes Pandapas.
Both skippers, who are both rivals and good friends, face three more days of racing before final trophies are awarded at Eastern Yacht Club on Sunday evening. Michael Carpenter of Reading (Mass.) is the third skipper tied for first in the Rhodes class.
Leading in the three other classes that raced on opening day are: Natalie Coleman-Fuller (West Hartford, Conn.) and Brian Bush (Westboro, Mass.), tied for first in the Daysailer class; Wade Edwards (Concord, Mass.) in the 21-boat Etchells class; and Jane Cooke of Marblehead in the Town Class.
Five classes began competing today at Race Week, a four-day event hosted by Boston, Corinthian, and Eastern yacht clubs; seven more classes will join the competition on Friday and Saturday. Racing concludes Sunday, when prizes will be awarded in 12 classes at Eastern YC and two overall trophies will be awarded to the top performers in the fleet. Some 200 boats from the U.S., Canada, and Ireland are expected on the starting lines.
Race watchers can find race reports and results at the Sailing World website (www.sailingworld.com).
RESULTS: Day 1
[Skipper, Hometown, Boat Name]
**DAY SAILER (8 boats) **
1) Natalie Coleman-Fuller, West Hartford, CT, Odile,
2) Brian Bush, Westboro, MA, Ramona
3) Bob Lemaire, Wolfeboro, NH, RUNAWAY
**ETCHELLS (21 boats) **
1) Wade Edwards, Concord, MA, Bantry
2) Don Miller/Barrington, N Reading, MA, Toubob
3) Mark Luckes, Marblehead, MA, Perozoso
**IOD (14 boats) **
1) Bruce Dyson, Marblehead, MA, GYPSY
2) Kenneth Drewry, Marblehead, MA, SMALL HOTEL
3) Elliott Rowand, Beverly, MA, Shadow
**RHODES 19 (38 boats) **
1) Kim Pandapas, Marblehead, MA, MO HOTTA MO BETTA
2) Jeremy Bloxham, Marblehead, MA, JUMBLY
3) Michael Carpenter, Reading, MA, You Sexy Thing!
**TOWNCLASS (8 boats) **
1) Jane R. Cooke, Marblehead, MA, AUFBLITZEN
2) Arthur O’Neill, Swampscott, MA, FROLIC
3) James Cooke, Marblehead, MA, ELUSIVE