46th Seawanhaka Cup Victory
September 25th, 2017
Back in 2014, I was asked to lead the Seawanhaka challenge for the 45th Seawanhaka Cup, charged with the task to win it back from Southern Yacht Club. I felt incredibly honored to be selected as the skipper, especially as a new member at a club with so many amazing sailors such as Steve Benjamin and Dave Perry. We successfully won the cup back and now three years on we mounted our defense of the Cup.
The 2017 Seawanhaka Cup would mark the 46th edition of this prestigious match race trophy offered for the purpose of promoting small yacht racing and developing the Corinthian spirit among yachtsmen. Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club partnered with Oakcliff Sailing Center for this edition of the Cup to raise the level of sailing by using Oakcliff's excellent fleet of Swedish Match 40s. The racing proved to be incredibly tight, with the top 3 teams all within a single point of 1st place. It all came down to the final two races of the second round robin.
My team of John Colburn, Jean-Pierre Blaise, Jonathan Hammond, and Sam Barron-Fox did an amazing job on the water to keep the boat going fast in the light and challenging conditions. We have been using Oakcliff's summer match race regattas as practice for this year's defense and our efforts paid off over these last two races of the second round robin. If we won both races, we'd sit in 1st place heading into the elimination rounds. The first of these two races saw us up against the very strong Long Beach Yacht Club Team, skippered by Scott Dickson. We maintained good control in the pre-start using our starboard entry to lead by two boat lengths off the start line and extend to about three boat lengths by the top mark. The topping lift came off the pole at the first hoist but the team recovered quickly to get the skied topping lift back down and onto the pole. After that, we continued to extend our lead and take the win putting us in the driver seat for our final race of the second round robin.
The second race was against Peter Wickwire and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. Wickwire, like us, was in a "win and your in first" position, but with a new breeze filling in, we would have to wait for a course reset in order to face off. Once the course was set, the race began in a dying breeze around 5pm and Peter was able to lead off the line and control the favored left side of the course. Our team kept the boat moving well in the tricky conditions and while we stayed within attack range on the first run, we weren't quite able to get on his breeze in the first gybe. We stayed close and followed bow to stern behind at the leeward mark but lost some distance on the second upwind. By the top mark, it looked like a tall order to get back into the race. As the breeze continued to lighten up, Sam, our tactician, made a brilliant call to gybe while Peter was in some chop in hopes he would match and get down speed. As we gybed, so did Peter and that was the opening we were looking for. We then slowly worked low onto his breeze. He came up to defend his lead but we matched and after an attempted luff 100 yards from the finish, we rolled past him to windward and forced him to gybe away. This gave us the lead and the race by half a boat length on the line. This win felt amazing, as if it were the winning race. Poised to head into the elimination rounds, little did we know it would actually end up being the winning race.
The final day saw marginal sailing conditions with only enough breeze to complete the semifinals, which we won 2-0 over the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club putting us up against the LBYC Team. The Race Committee kept us on the water as long as they could in an attempt to run the finals but the weather gods did not play ball and the final standings would go to a count back, determining the winner based on round robin standings. In match racing, they always say it's best to win the round robin but they also say you don't need to win all the races, just the right ones!
Thanks again to all the teams who came and challenged for the 46th Seawanhaka Cup. It was a pleasure having you at our club. And thank you to my team, as always, for their amazing effort and passion for the game of match racing.
Photos are thanks to George Ellis!
Riptide will be sailing in one of the most entertaining events of our season, the Oakcliff Halloween Invitational. This regatta always brings interesting conditions from hurricanes to snow, so you never know what you're going to get - trick or treat!
THANK YOU to all of our supporters who have believed in Riptide Racing and stood behind us 100%. We still have a long way to go, but we couldn’t have gotten this far without support, for which we’re forever grateful. What we have showed is just part of Riptide Racing’s potential –with the necessary tools, we have the capacity to go all the way.