PACT '95, which on Tuesday won all three of its races, swept its opponents again yesterday in the Columbus Cup team racing regatta sailed on the Severn River and in the process forced a change of format for the balance of the competition.
Originally scheduled as a third round-robin series among four teams of three boats each and the finals, the racing in Baltimore tomorrow now will include a race-off between the Santa Maria Cup team and Team Nippon for third place and the start of a final series between PACT '95 and Team Chesapeake.
After yesterday's races, PACT '95 stood at 6-0 and Team Chesapeake at 4-2 with 2-0 records against Santa Maria and Nippon to clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker if all three finish the third round robin at 4-5.
Racing yesterday was held in light winds that shifted some 250 degrees through the day, and the PACT '95 team of skippers Ken Read, John Kostecki and Kevin Mahaney excelled again.
In the first round-robin race between the teams on Tuesday, the finish was close in breezy conditions. Yesterday, Team Chesapeake got off to a bad start and was unable to recover.
Read said that a major part of the reason PACT '95 has done so well is because of the luck of the draw.
"To be honest, [Kostecki] has team raced a little bit, [Mahaney] never has, and I team raced a ton in college, but that was 10 years ago," Read said. "We are really fortunate that a kid named Zack Leonard, who just got out of college, has kind of been our coach this week."
Leonard, who was in the pool of Baltimore-Washington-Annapolis area sailors that fills out the five-man crews in this regatta, happened to be chosen to sail on Mahaney's boat, and Leonard and Mahaney have become a force to be reckoned with, Read said.
In team racing, which is more common in college competition than in professional events, boats are awarded points based on the position in which they finish (1-2-3-4-5-6). The goal is to score a total of 10 or fewer points among the three boats to ensure winning a race.
"If there is a certain number combination you need to win," Read said, "there is a set play you have to do to either spring a guy or drive a guy back or whatever. So, in remembering those plays, Zack has been really important."
In the PACT '95-Team Chesapeake race yesterday, for example, the PACT team rounded one mark with boats in first, second and third. One boat went to the left side of the course, one to the right and the other up the middle.
If the game were three-on-three basketball, PACT '95 would have had its entire team out alone on the break with their choice of who was to score first.
"It put [Team Chesapeake] in an impossible situation," Read said, adding that no matter which way Chesapeake tried to challenge, the lead could be passed off to another PACT boat.
"We have just been toying with them to this point," said Team Chesapeake skipper Jim Brady, tongue firmly in his cheek, when asked what his team's strategy might be in the final series against PACT.
Read said the key to success in team racing is to be acutely aware of everything going on on the race course.
"You have to cover the zones, you have to cover man to man. It is really a lot like football," Read said. "If you narrow it down to just tacking on somebody from behind, you are playing into their strength. You tack one too many times, and they are gone.
"You have to take the blinders off. In fleet racing you make the boat go fast as hell. In this you have to be aware of what is going on around you all the time."
Racing is scheduled to be continued at 11 a.m. tomorrow on the Patapsco River off Fort McHenry.
Standings (after two round-robins)
PACT, 6-0; Chesapeake, 4-2; Nippon, 1-5; Santa Maria, 1-5.
Race 1 -- PACT def. Nippon. Race 2 -- Chesapeake def. Santa Maria. Race 3 -- Chesapeake def. Nippon. Race 4 -- PACT def. Santa Maria. (One boat on each team disqualified.). Race 5 -- PACT def. Chesapeake. Race 6 -- Santa Maria def. Nippon.