Strong start for Hardesty
It's hard to imagine a better day to start the 2014 Etchells World Championship, which is hosted by the New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court in association with Sail Newport. Plentiful sun, warm temperatures and moderate breeze created near perfect sailing conditions off Newport, R.I.
For two-time Etchells World Champion Bill Hardesty (San Diego) it was hard to imagine a better start to the regatta. Hardesty and his team placed second in both races and lead the regatta overall, with Ante Razmilovic's Swedish Blue team (London, U.K.) in second and defending world champion Marvin Beckmann (Houston) in third. In his first visit to Newport in more than 30 years, John Bertrand (South Yarra, Australia), the America's Cup-winning skipper of Australia II, lies fourth.
It wasn't easy for anyone, however. To spread out the fleet, principle race officer Tom Duggan stretched the legs to between 2 and 3 nautical miles, with each race taking between 90 and 120 minutes. The bulk of the fleet didn't reach the dock until after 6 p.m.
"We were physically grinding it out all day," said Taylor Canfield, who serves as tactician for Hardesty. "Finishing up with a five-leg course just made it that much more grueling. Our downwind speed was great, we gained a couple of boats every run. Then we were able to catch one or two boats on the upwind."
Hardesty, who won his world titles in 2008 and 2011, Beckmann (2013), and Bertrand (2010) are all former world champions, and their experience and poise showed today. With 95 boats on the starting line and both starts run under the black flag (which means that anyone who is over the starting line early is disqualified from the race), it was a day to limit risk and avoid large mistakes. Sailors will often say before events such as this that you can't win the regatta on the first day, but you certainly can lose it.
"The goal today was to get two single-digit finishes," said Steve Hunt, Beckmann's tactician. "We did and so we're happy."
Those teams that were not so fortunate today can take some comfort in knowing that, should the regatta schedule play out as planned, they will be able to discard their worst finish from their scoreline. But those teams with one or more disappointing finishes on Day 1 are now operating with little margin for error.
Top 10 results
1. USA 979, Line Honors, Bill Hardesty, San Diego, 2-2 4.0
2. HKG 1333, Swedish Blue, Ante Razmilovic, London, U.K., 3-6 89.0
3. USA 1378, The Martian, Marvin Beckmann, Houston, 8-3 11.0
4. AUS 1383, Triad, John Bertrand, South Yarra, Australia, 4-10 14.0
5. USA 1411, Elizabeth, Tom Carruthers, San Diego, 5-12 17.0
6. USA 1208, Gumption3, Kevin Grainger, Rye, N.Y., 6-19 25.0
7. USA 1376, Arethusa, Phil Lotz, Newport, R.I., 9-18 27.0
8. CAN 1396, Hank Lammens, Norwalk, Conn., 20/ZFP-8 28.0
9. USA 1308, KGB, Senet Bischoff & Ben Kinney, Larchmont, N.Y., 10-20 30.0
10. USA 1296, Appreciation, Jeffrey Siegal, Portsmouth, R.I., 17-17 34.0