Beneteau 40.7 takes trophy

A report from the US-IRC West Coast Championship in San Francisco

Saturday August 23rd 2008, Author: Talbot Wilson, Location: United Kingdom
White Dove, a Beneteau 40.7 owned by Mike Garl took first place in Division C of the Aldo Alessio Perpetual Trophy Regatta and in doing so grabbed the top prize in the second annual US-IRC West Coast Championship. The championship was sailed in conjunction with the August 1-3 regatta at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California. Brad Copper's Tripp 43, TNT was second, and Ashley Wolfe's TP 52 Mayhem rounded out the top three.

Garl was exhilarated about wining this US-IRC West Coast Championship. "The racing started in light winds for half of the ocean race the first day." Garl noted. "Then it filled in at the Golden Gate to the 25 to 27 knot range. We blew a kite shortly after coming in under the bridge and the next one we put up lasted about 20 seconds when a seam ripped. We managed to round the leeward mark and made up time beating into 27 knots to the last mark and then downwind in a good breeze to the finish. Good finish, but an expensive day!"

"On Saturday," Garl continued, "the first race was light to moderate in smooth water into a flood up wind. We finished second - I think White Dove likes more wind, because when it picked up to the mid 20's in the afternoon race with some small waves we were back in our groove and made good time on the boats in our division."

White Dove, a production Beneteau 40.7 has competed in all of the events in the new San Francisco Bay Championship Series. "We have entered all the IRC events this year," her owner said. "We strongly support IRC and feel fortunate to have people like John Siegel to put the series championship together here in the San Francisco Bay area. This year we finished fourth in the Stone Cup, second in the Spinnaker Cup, third in the Santa Cruz Regatta, and of course, first at Aldo Alessio."

"We look forward to the Big Boat Series every year." Garl added. "We hope to build on our momentum at Aldo going into Big Boat Series. We will have basically the same crew and we are having fun sailing together like never before! Just a blast. I would like to add is that we really have come along way in our success in IRC under the leadership of our very talented tactician Jon Stewart. He has done an absolutely amazing job on the racecourse and I attribute our success to John and the crew he as coached so well the past two years."

17 IRC boats, ranging in size from two 1D35s to the Reichel-Pugh 77, Akela, competed in three divisions as they sailed for the US-IRC West Coast Championship. The format consisted of a 28-mile Ocean Race on Friday, two windward-leeward buoy races on Saturday, and climaxed with an 18-mile 'Bay Tour' on Sunday. IRC afforded some very tight, competitive racing in this tune-up for the Rolex Big Boat Series also sailed out of St. Francis Yacht Club in September.

Conditions were typical for summer on San Francisco Bay, with a mixture of sunshine and fog, raging currents, and breezes of eight to twenty in the Pacific Ocean and 15 to 30 in the San Francisco Bay.

Mayhem won Friday's ocean race, correcting over John Siegel's Wylie 42, Scorpio in Division B, and Mike Garl's Beneteau 40.7, White Dove in Division C. By winning the ocean race, Mayhem also won the Aldo Alessio Perpetual Trophy for the second straight year.

Saturday's two bay races were breezy affairs. In Division A, Mayhem beat Lani Spund's Turbo'd SC 52 Kokopelli2 in race two, and Sy Kleinman's Schumacher 54, Swiftsure beat out Kokopelli2 in race 3. In Division B, TNT had two bullets and topped Scorpio's two duces. In Division C, Gerard Sheridan's Elan 40, Tupelo Honey beat White Dove in race two, but White Dove came back in race three to beat Gary Massari's Beneteau 40.7 Phantom Mist who finished second.

Going into Sunday's 'Bay Tour', it was anybody's guess who'd emerge as division winners and the overall US-IRC West Coast Championship. Kokopelli2 beat Mayhem in the final race, but lost the Division A title on a tiebreaker. In Division B, TNT led going into the final race leading by a point, but needed to beat Scorpio to win the division. In the nearly three-hour race, TNT bested Scorpio by just ten seconds to win their first IRC division title on San Francisco Bay. In Division C, White Dove corrected on the field by more than five minutes to secure victory.

Brad Copper, skipper of TNT said the division B win "is the result of a concerted 10 month effort to optimize the 1998 Tripp 43 IMS design for IRC, with the primary focus on inventory configuration/sail design, adapting TNT to local sailing conditions, and crew work.

"This was some good close racing" Copper continued. "Going into last race, the Tour of the Bay, we lead the series by one point and needed to beat Scorpio, a well respected competitor, to win B division. After almost three hours of racing TNT corrected out 10 seconds ahead of Scorpio to win the final race and the division - a credit to the effort and progress of TNT's crew. We believe we sailed four clean races and were pleased with our crew work as well as TNT's performance across varying wind conditions".

When asked about the growth potential for IRC racing on the west coast, the new IRC west coast champion Mike Garl said, "I feel it gives us the opportunity as a production boat to compete with bigger and faster boats. Once you get beyond the inconvenience of having your boat weighed and measured, you can sail your boat hard and know you will have a chance to win or score well. I would hope our success with a Beneteau 40.7 will encourage others to get into IRC racing. We should double our fleet in the IRC championship series next year."

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