AMERICAS CUP 2001
Class III starting
When I first saw Ivanpah I couldn't believe my eyes. About 75% of the lake was covered with water. I wondered where we were going to race. It's quite a sight driving through Primm resort to get to the lake: Fast food restaurants, 1500 hotel rooms, mini malls, mini marts, gas stations, billboards with thousands and thousands of lights that are so bright they hurt your eyes (no energy shortage here). In the early eighties Primm wasn't even Primm. There was only a two-pump gas station and nine hotel rooms. There was so little in the way of supplies that some years we wouldn't even go there. We would enter the lake through Yates Well Road and never even set foot in Neva da, (So much for reminiscing).
It was a short drive onto the lake this year. We camped one hundred yards on the Primm side of the pipeline. On Sunday we had to move camp as the wind started to blow quite nicely from the south and the water was encroaching on our camp at an alarming rate. Most of the camp had to move and by the time everybody was ready to go racing, the wind died. After sailing around the course for a while it reminded me of a beach more than a desert. Water on one side, rocks and a freeway on the other, narrow near the top mark and lots of soft and rutted surface.
The race committee, led by Bob Dill and Steve Brown, did an excellent job of running the races, given the conditions. There were five starts for seven classes and each class got in nine races (a modern day record for the A-cup). Most of the racing consisted of fifteen-minute windward-leeward courses, with only a few turning into reaching races. The winds were moderate to light. Some of the races had large holes in the wind, others had 60° wind changes and a few had good winds ranging in the 15 to 20 knot range. With the condition of the course and the wind, it made for some exciting and challenging racing and great entertainment for the spectators. For example, in one of the Class Four races, after five laps, the winning margin for US 92 over US 2000 was a mere eighteen inches.
The committee tried a new system to run the races. When the race starts, so does a clock and after fifteen minutes, regardless of who is coming across the line, the checkered flag is dropped, signaling the end of the race. Everybody still on the course has fifteen minutes to finish his or her lap. After the second fifteen minutes has expired, the race is officially over and everybody on the course returns to camp. If a boat doesn't complete the last lap in the fifteen-minute time limit, it is scored in the position you last crossed the line in. This made for a maximum time of thirty-minutes per race and kept things moving along nicely.
Two or three points decided most of the classes, and there seemed to be a number of racers who had a chance of an overall win. Keeping in mind that I was very busy in Classes three and four, here is my best on what was happening in the racing:
Manta Single: Seven boats, Jim Goss (US 1777), Art Lang (US 1674) and Curtis Obi (US
3081) were one, two, and three in almost every race. The outcome wasn't decided until the
last race with Jim beating Art by one point. Curtis won the last race finishing two
points behind Jim in the overall standings. Mary Robertson (US 240) and Mary Bassano (US
8), the only two women racing at the Americas cup, battled with Jim Hart (US 93) and Bob
Richards (US 713) for 4th with Mary R. coming out on top. Jim Hart was the only
other racer besides Jim, Art and Curtis to finish in the top three, he had a 3rd in the
Manta Twin Start
Manta Twin: Fourteen boats. There were five different winners in individual races but the overall winner never won a race (shows what consistency can do for you). The race for first was between Mark Harris (US 218), Randy Holmer (US 818) and Bob Schumacher (US 7099). Mark came out on top by two points, all of his finishes were in the top three except one. Curtis Obi (US 4081), Jim Goss (US 505) and Carl Eberly (US 474) had strong showings, with Jim taking 4th by three points over Curtis. Paul Ackerman (US 195) broke into the top three in the 8th race by taking a second. This has always been a very competitive class and there should be around thirty boats for the Worlds next year.
Kent and Floyd
Fed 5/ 5m2: Eight boats. Once again it was a three-boat race for the top spot, this time between Art Lang (US 366), Floyd White (US 126) and Mark Harris (US 94). Art won five of the first six races, then held on to the lead as Floyd won the last three, Art finished five points ahead for the overall win. With the late rush from Floyd he was able to tie Mark for second, winning the tiebreaker. Larry Hatch (US 517) had three 2nd place finishes and Joe Bohl (US 369) had a good regatta with a 2nd in the 6th race. There were a couple of new sails in this fleet, but if they want to do well in the Worlds, they're going to have to make more modifications than that.
Classics: Three boats. This fleet was a bust: two of the entries never started and the remaining boat started to race with the Class Three boats and then left the regatta early. Oh well, maybe next year, or not?
NALSA Class Five: (49 Ft2 max sail area), Six boats. It was shaping up to be a four-way
battle between Terry Fulbright (Zest, US 29), Robert Webber (Scirocco, US 203), Fred Cope
(Viper, US 511) and Hardy Baehni (who traveled from Minnesota with his Night, Widow Maker,
US 59). But when Hardy suffered boat damage in a Class Four race and missed three races
while he repaired his boat, and Fred suffered boat damage in a camp mishap (you can ask
him about that one), it all came down to Terry and Robert. Robert who won four of
the last six races, couldn't beat the five first place finishes that Terry had and
finished three points behind. With the minimal amount of sail area allowed in this
class, and the mostly light air we experienced, these guys still made it around the race
course and had competitive racing. It will be interesting to see how many Nalsa Class Five
boats are on the line at the Worlds.
Pacific Rim Class Four: (59 Ft2 max), Nine boats. Before the start all the boats looked like they had a chance to win. Hardy Baehni (Widow Maker, US 254) won the first race and was looking strong until Brett Gripenstraw (White Trash, US 337 a C. Palmer design) had gear problems and flipped his yacht onto Hardy taking them both out of the running in the 4th race. Brett survived with scrapes and bruises and has fully recovered; his boat however doesn't look so good. Fred Cope (Viper, US 511) had some good finishes until his before mentioned mishap in camp. Howard Haupt (US 173) showed great sailing skills and a little luck in the fourth race to take a 2nd. Nord Embroden (Silver Bullet, US 2) and Alan Wirtanen (who finished building his boat at the desert, US 25), whose boats are better suited for Class Three, were a little under powered in the types of conditions we had. While both showed good speed, at times they struggled to get going in the lighter air. In the end it came down to Phil Rothrock in his all aluminum solid wing boat (the Arthur A., US 92) and myself in the Green Machine, (US 2000, C.P. design). Phil won the last four races, but the Green Machine won five of the first six to take the overall win by one point. This was some of the closest racing ever for Class Four with the lead changing three or four times in a race. There were numerous come from behind wins for both of these boats. Hardy beat out Nord for 3rd and Alan finished right behind in 5th. Class Four should be a very competitive class at the Worlds, with boats from New Zealand and some of the Europeans building sails to fit this class.
Pacific Rim Class Three: (79 Ft2 max), Eleven boats. Once again it looked like anyone's race. Along with Brett, Nord, Alan, Phil and myself from Class Four, we now also have six others including Bill Dale (VAR, US 255 from Wisconsin), Lincoln Baird (Greener, US 7960 C.P. design) and Lester Robertson (Pterodactyl II, US 3). In the last race of the regatta Lincoln finally pulled in his mainsheet and got a 2nd. By doing this he tied and won the tiebreaker with Lester one point ahead of Alan for 5th overall. These three boats are either new or new to the owner and should be considerably faster by next year's Worlds. The next group of boats, Phil, Bill, Nord and myself, had some great back and forth racing with all tasting victory. When all the dust settled, the Green Machine was in first (with six first place finishes), Nord was in second two points ahead of Bill and Phil was one more back. With this group of boats and a couple more that weren't there, the US should be well represented in this class at the event next year.
During some of the races a steady wind would blow and then nothing, zip, zero. A boat could go from being half a lap ahead to fourth place before the driver knew what was going on. This was demonstrated over and over again by many different people in many different classes. Even though the lake was smaller and softer than normal it seemed to make for good racing with more tactics involved than in the past couple of years. One thing that every body agreed on was that this was the best racing at the Americas Cup in recent history. Even though the turnout was smaller than usual there wasn't any lack of competition out on the course.
Besides the racing, NALSA had it's usual "Blast off " party with so much good food that there was enough for a second night. SASSASS had a couple of BYOC (bring your own cup) Mayor's mixers the second of which, was a mini-wine tasting. The WLC did some work with the BLM to make sure we had the best lake possible this year. Steve Brown, who handled the starting and finishing duties, took some images with his digital camera and put on a great slide show at the awards dinner. The awards dinner was held at the Primm Golf Course club house. It was a nice room and everybody had a good time.
The race committee lead, by Bob Dill, made some changes to the way races were
run and they were very successful. The scoring was flawless, a tough task with the number
of laps in each race. The plans are being made for the World Championships and it looks
like all the little details that make up a great regatta will be remembered. I hope to see
all of you in the desert next year, and I'm looking forward to meeting more fellow sailors
from around the world and swapping stories after the races while sipping on something
Dennis Bassano US 2000
Dennis near sunset
Note: Pictures taken by Steve Brown (and maybe by Bob Schumacher) and inserted in the article by Bob Dill, See many more pictures from the link on the site home page.