NESSA National Keelboat Invitational Qualifier


Sunday, October 11:

The NESSA Keelboat Elimination Regatta, the qualifier for the Keelboat National Invitational regatta, was held in Fishers Island Sound under glorious weather conditions for sailing in IODs. The wind was out of the Southwest and blew over Fishers Island at 8-14 with mild gusts. The waves were small. The tide was at flood's end at the beginning of racing and ebbed for the remainder of the day.

The racing was tight. The best course for IODs is windward/leeward so that was what was sailed. The Race Committee was stationed about 1/6 of the way up the weather leg so that there was a set and a douse each race.

The venue was interesting for the sailors because the tide and wind conditions made it important to win the pin at the start and go left to proceed up the shore line where tide against was less, and pressure was higher. Up the leg pressure came in waves and the sailors had to adapt the the changes in velocity. Sailors forced out or choosing to go out into the tide had more tide and less pressure to work with and paid for that at beat's end. Downwind the opposite was true and getting a gybe set or setting and gybing quickly to get out into the tide had to be measured versus staying in the inshore pressure and at the end of the leg timing the gybe back to the mark to sail the least distance at good velocity was an important decision. The short last leg made the douse important and was interesting because there was a right shift that had to be reached by toughing it out into the tide early on the leg which consistently bested the decision of going left away from the tide but getting headed coming into the finish, making the first and second beat mirror images of one another.

Sailing an IOD proved to be interesting for the sailors as well. Besides likely being the biggest boat and absolutely being the most beautiful boat they will likely ever sail competitively (recorder's opinion) it is also most likely the only one that so obviously tests their ability to change gears. As one of the observers put it, in most boats that high school and collegiate sailors sail, its easy to get into high gear, and thus starts and tactics are important. In these displacement keelboats, another aspect that is added is sensing that the wind is up or down, or waves are coming, and then shifting gears by easing sheets that 1/4 inch or letting off backstay and heading down that 1-2% to keep the boat moving. All of the teams were good enough sailors to sense the slowing down but it took communication and coordination of the entire crew to effect the gear changing. The teams that sensed this best and did something about it were the most successful.

Falmouth was definitely the best team at figuring out the wind and tide and sticking to the left shift even when under duress, in a pack or sucking it up in bad air for a while on the first beat, gybing quickly and choosing the best time to gybe for the shortest leeward leg, remembering that the right shift against the tide was better than avoiding the tide on the second beat, and changing gears when slow. They deserved to win the qualifier and will represent NESSA well in the National Invitational regatta.

The competitors thanked the Race Committee and mark boat team, which was headed by Joel Zackin of the Sound School, Brad and Mary Burnham who arranged a fun dinner for the teams and helpers who came to the island the night previous to the regatta, which let the sailors and adults meet one another and have a good time, housing for the night and breakfast for all involved the morning of the event, the Fishers Island Yacht Club for its hospitality and those Fishers Island IOD fleet members who took the time to help with the event and offer their boats.

Score summary

1Falmouth  MaineYachtsmen1111
2North KingstownSkippers1313
3The TaftBig Red Rhinos1717
4Cape ElizabethCapers2222

Score history

The following chart shows the relative rank of the teams as of the race indicated. Note that the races are ordered by number, then division, which may not represent the order in which the races were actually sailed.

The first place team as of a given race will always be at the top of the chart. The spacing from one team to the next shows relative gains/losses made from one race to the next. You may hover over the data points to display the total score as of that race.

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