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The Maker and Boracic at the offset mark. ©2012 Kathy Conte
Sarcoma Cup on Boracic
August 31, 2012
This report on August 25-26's Sarcoma Cup comes from 23-year-old skipper Tyler Gough:
This year's Sarcoma Cup was my first race as skipper on the Open 5.70 Boracic, and I wasn't really expecting it. When Nik told me Friday night that he was going to make me drive this regatta, I kind of just thought he was joking. But, after last minute checks and hoisting the main – I was tacking the boat up and out of the Richmond breakwater, only managing to graze one of the RYC Zodiacs towing marks out to the course. We had a lot to live up to, considering that my dad, Nik and I had won the race the year previous on the same boat. But hey, first race driving? Odds weren't looking too good.
By the time we reached the race course Saturday morning, the wind was blowing a steady 13-15 knots. Shortly after the Express 27 fleet started, we heard our five-minute gun, and, after almost jumping overboard in surprise, we were in our sequence. Nik and Theo pretty much drove the boat during the start, calling out boats, letting me know when to head up and when to get speed. After we finally came up and crossed the start line, we were comfortably sitting in the upper third of the fleet (probably our best start all weekend).
All but one of the five races over the weekend would be two laps, with a short, upwind finish leg. The first weather leg felt a little shaky. I found myself struggling to settle into a groove. Pinching too much here and sailing down off the wind there. But we stayed on the far right of the course until layline, and found ourselves in the top four rounding the weather mark.
We had good speed downwind. Nik told me exactly what I needed to do to keep the boat moving, keeping the spinnaker trimmed perfectly. By the time we made it to the leeward mark we'd pulled out in front. It felt great to be out in front in my first race — a little surprising to say the least. Sadly, by the time we rounded the windward mark, and headed back down the course, we’d drop a place to Tom Baffico on The Maker. And, by the time we rounded, heading up for the short, upwind, finish stretch, we'd drop another place to Joe Wells on The Rooster. Definitely the rookie driving, but it was exciting to pull out a strong finish at the helm.
The rest of the weekend would be very similar. We were slow off the start and behind at the first mark. But, with a little perseverance and error free crew work, we'd crawl back up, picking off a few boats here and there. In the end, we'd finish 3-3-4-2-3. It felt really good to get comfortable driving the boat around others. I found myself settling into a better groove upwind, carving cleaner lines through the waves, and avoiding careless stalls. The top boats were still hard to match, and Tom and Joe both stayed out in front of us most of the weekend. Tom even managed to beat us and pull out a second after losing and recovering a crew member in race 2.
The highlight of the weekend on Boracic would be the racing Sunday. After settling in and getting the boat to plane smoothly downwind during race 4, we came within boat lengths of Joe and The Rooster at the leeward mark. We soaked down as much as we could and luffed up as late as possible (my apologies if I got you with the spinnaker Joe and crew), allowing us to hold the high/inside line around the mark (certainly aided by some favorable current) — pulling off an awesome second place finish. The last race of the day, the only course 1 race of the weekend, was equally as exciting, with Marc Finot and his crew on Frolic edging us out by less than a boat length at the finish line.
Thanks to the race committee from Berkeley YC and RYC for running such a great event. Thanks to all the boats that came out to join the fun in the breezy, Bay weather. Congratulations to Tom Baffico and crew for their impressive display and first place on The Maker, and to Joe Wells and crew on The Rooster for their second place. And a very special thanks to Nik Vale and Theo Gough for crewing for me this weekend. You never missed a set, or dropped the kite. When it looked like something was going to go wrong, you both problem solved, and kept the boat going. Definitely made up for my hereditarily bad jibes and spacy driving.
Looking forward to seeing everyone back on the Bay next month on September 21-23 for the 2012 North American Championships at Golden Gate YC.
– Tyler Gough
For results and more from the Sarcoma Cup, see www.sarcomacup.org.