Tight finish closes Day Sailer championship


The 1993 Day Sailer North American Championship ended with an extremely close contest on Friday, wrapping up a six-race, one-throw-out series, which began Tuesday morning.

Racers from across the country sailed in the championship at Severn Sailing Association, fleshing out the fleet to 39 two-person crews.

Two races were sailed each day on Tuesday and Wednesday, but on Thursday the wind gods, who had been surprisingly cooperative for August on the Chesapeake, left the fleet to swelter in a frustrating light-air drifting match.

That meant another day on the water on Friday to complete the series at six contests.

Race committee chairman Stuart Walker said that other than Thursday's poor winds, he was pleased at the range of breezes that characterized the regatta, ranging from a high of about 12 knots for one race, to a pleasant 7 to 8.

"I was impressed with how well sailed these boats are," he said, noting a good range of talent within the fleet. "The top half of the fleet are all good sailors. Many of the races came down to the last 50 yards or so as to who would win the race."

Day Sailers, 17-foot two-person centerboard dinghies built by Sunfish-Laser, typically attract a range of sailors from beginners to the highly skilled, and have a strong following among family sailors.

Like some of the other competitors, regatta winners Nat and Deb Corwin of Cornwall, Conn., brought their children along -- with Nat's mother included in the expedition to help with on-shore baby-sitting and to share the fun.

Nat Corwin is no stranger to sailing in Annapolis, or to winning in Annapolis. He is the defending champion of SSA's Day Sailer Invitational, contested here each fall, and has had other successes on the Chesapeake.

"We love Annapolis," he said. "It's always been a good venue for us, even though we can't really sail in the chop."

The Corwins' home waters on a small lake in northwest Connecticut are flatter and offer smoother sailing, they said.

As for their success at the North Americans, Corwin said, "We were lucky, first and foremost. It was one of those things where it fell into place for us."

Actually, there must have been a little more to it than that.

"We have a new boat, and we worked hard to put it together," Corwin said. "And my wife and I have sailed together for a long time -- she does a great job flying the spinnaker."

Corwin said they were able to make most of their largest gains downwind.

"It was very close racing -- that's what made it so exciting," Corwin said. "And one thing that makes this class so much fun is that people are very sportsmanlike, so it doesn't take on that cutthroat attitude. People are extraordinarily generous."

The Corwins worked their way to the top of the fleet during the last two days of the regatta, and clinched their win only when they passed the last two they needed at the finish line on Friday.

"Everybody had at least one tough race," Corwin said after his Friday finish. "There were six [crews] going in today that could potentially have won it."

Among those the Corwins displaced was top Anne Arundel finisher Rob Bonney, who had led the regatta through the first four races before dropping back to second Thursday and settling into fourth on Friday.

"It was a very interesting regatta," he said. "With the exception of LTC the one light-air race, we had very interesting light to moderate winds with some good wind shifts."

Competition was stiff, he and crew Mary Heimer agreed.

Despite all the friendliness off the water and good-natured competition on it, "It was a tough crowd," she said.

Day Sailer North Americans

1. Nat Corwin/Deb Corwin, Cornwall, Conn., 17.5 (8-1-[14]-1-4-4); Barbara Foot/Dan Duggan, Washington, 18.75 (3-5-7-[14]-3-1); 3. Stephen Braese, (crew, hometown unavailable), 20 ([9]-4-6-5-2-3); 4. Rob Bonney/Mary Heimer, Annapolis, 21.75 (6-6-1-3-6-[6]); 5. Michael Carpenter/B.J. Mansfield, Reading, Mass., 22 (2-2-9-7-[16]-2); 6. Ronald Pletsch/Marie Pletsch, Sarasota, Fla., 27.75 (10-8-4-[10]-1-5); 7. Ted Baylis/Jeff Morgan, Orleans, Mass., 35 (11-7-[12]-2-5-10); 8. Karen Shipley Taylor/Gary Taylor, Danbury, Conn., 36 (4-3-[15]-8-14-7); 9. Steve Seide/Barbara Seide, Bridgewater, N.J., 37 (7-13-2-3-[13]-12); 10. Jack Colwell/Frank Robb, Bethesda/Silver Spring, 37 (5-10-3-11- [15]-8).

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