Brisk breezes propel St. Brendan fleet


Brisk and blustery spring breezes propelled this year's St. Brendan Cup fleet of 83 boats in nine classes around the course on Saturday.

Forty-nine PHRF and Multihull teams worked out on a 28-mile course around government marks while three Cruising One Design Division classes of J/30s, Catalina 27s and Tritons used a slightly abbreviated 22.3-mile version.

At the request of the IMS class, a new feature was added to the event. The Race Committee reconvened on the water in lighter, shiftier air on Sunday to start two short-course windward-leeward races of four miles each for 22 teams in three IMS splits.

The St. Brendan Cup is Shearwater Sailing Club's annual benefit fund-raising event for the non-profit Brendan Corp., which provides summer sail training to learning-disabled youngsters. The regatta is named for St. Brendan the Navigator, a legendary early voyager who is thought to have sailed from Ireland to the New World centuries before Columbus.

To commemorate St. Brendan's feat and to recognize navigational skills in racing, the top performing yacht in each of the major divisions in the event -- PHRF, COD, and IMS -- is awarded a special navigation trophy in addition to the more standard awards for skippers of the top finishers in each class.

The awards were based on best corrected time for each division, combining races for IMS and using a nominal PHRF rating for the COD boats to calculate the winner.

In the PHRF division, the navigation award went to the Flying Circus team headed by Jervis Dorton, winner of PHRF B, and 28 seconds faster than his closest division rival, Tom French's PHRF A-2 winning team on Moonlighting.

In IMS, the winning team was Peter Gordon's crew aboard his Farr 44 Gaucho, with a corrected time of 00:00:00 in the second race when their elapsed time of 45 minutes 51 seconds equaled their handicap correction, added to a Race 1 corrected time of 34:04.

The COD Division's navigation award went to J/30 sailor Jack Murphy's Mischief team, which bested 15 other teams.

"On Saturday it was blowing pretty good, so we sent them on an intentionally long course," said Race Committee Chairman Charlie Husar. "We ran it as a double loop, though, so if the wind died we could shorten it up, and we sent the PHRF boats down past Bloody Point as their farthest mark, and the smaller boats went to [racing mark] 'Z,' near Curtis Point on the south side of the West River."

Husar said the wind gradually moved to the south over the course of the race, "squaring up the second windward leg," while wind strengths generally ranged from 12 to 18 knots.

For Sunday's IMS races, Husar said, a major concern was setting a drop-mark course in the available wind without interfering with any of the four Olympic Classes Regatta courses in the area at the same time. Two successful windward-leeward contests were completed before the dying wind prevented a third from being started.

On the water both days was the Fast Track team headed by John and Karen Yeigh, who rotate listing members of their crew -- in this case Ed Moy -- as a syndicate co-member.

The Fast Track crew sailed to a midfleet seventh place in Saturday's PHRF A-2 division, but aced both races on Sunday in IMS III in the lighter stuff.

"IMS is kind to us," John Yeigh said. "We raced IMS all 1989, but the last two years we've been racing PHRF. This year's Saturday-Sunday format allowed us to do both, and it was really a lot of fun to have all three races."

Sunday's very shifty northwesterly winds were variable in the extreme, ranging from virtually zero to 20 knots and above, said John Yeigh.

"The first race was shifty, but there weren't so many holes," he said. "The second race was shifty with a lot of holes."

Yeigh said a good start and staying in front was the key to success in the first race, while the second came down to luck.

"In the second race we were still in the hunt, but [Bill Schwarz's] Good Times broke away and got way out in front. Then on the last leg, which was a downwind finish, the wind filled in from behind. There were four of us who finished within 20 or 30 seconds, and we were the slowest [biggest handicap], so we really got lucky."

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