2014 Newport Regatta and Laser District 7 Full Rig Championship
Thanks to Joe Berkeley (Tufts) for this report on the Newport Regatta (originally posted by Joe on the District 7 Facebook page.)
The Newport Regatta is the biggest one design regatta at Sail Newport and the Laser fleet had the biggest fleet, with 44 full rigs and 5 radials. Sailors pulled their freshest class legal sail out of the quiver for 15 races over two days.
In a battle at the front of the fleet, Mark Zaleski (Harvard) overcame class stalwart Peter Shope (Connecticut College) to take the win by three points. Steve Kirkpatrick (Tufts), who finished third overall complimented Zaleski’s fast downwind S curve technique as well as his consistent boat speed.
Christine Neville, the first woman and fourth place finisher reflected upon how it wasn’t that long ago that she was at the Fat Boys Laser Regatta and she was sent in by the RC because they thought the conditions were too windy for her. She practiced her way to the top of the fleet and has a set a goal on her blog to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in the Laser Radial.
David Frazier was impressed with the talent of the next generation of Laser sailors and was even more impressed with the way they let their sailing do the talking. Not a lot of screaming, just good sailing.
For many of the races, the tide was pushing competitors over the starting line. After several general recalls, the RC got tired of it all and pulled out the black flag. Scan through the scores and you see the makings of some good alphabet soup. But with two throw outs competitors still had the chance to put together a good regatta.
At the Saturday dinner, the food was better than ever with catered chicken and steak rather than the normal regatta fare of burgers served raw or burned, your choice. The Bacardi rum flowed and took the edge off a day that could have gone better for some.
There were more complicated boats than the Laser rigging up in the paddock like A cats and 505’s and competitors in those fleets were marveling at how someone had refined their rudder or tweaked their hull. In fact Scott Ferguson (University of Michigan) sailed his A cat “Calculated Risk” to 4th overall in the 15-boat fleet. But on the Laser section of the lawn, no one really talked about anyone’s boat, they just admired their sailing technique as all the boats were the same.
Those who talk about fleet building noted making the Newport regatta the D7 championship definitely turbo charged the turn out. The fact that we received not one but two Newport Chamber of Commerce southwesterly breezes made for a picture perfect event. Something to think about for the future.