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2007 US Team Racing National Championship
for the George R. Hinman Trophy
NYYC Silver Panda Regatta Report
What an incredible event! Held October 19-21, the 2007 Hinman was one to remember with 132 team racers on 22 teams from the US, Canada, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands were treated to some of the best team racing the US has ever seen. There are so many interesting stories associated with this year's Hinman that we could go on and on talking about it. Instead, we'll try to give you a quick recap and highlight some of the best parts of the event.
The Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, NY hosted the regatta and went out of their way for the competitors by clearing out their mooring field. This allowed the racing to take place closer to shore, which sped up the rotations. For anybody who has not been to SCYC before, the clubhouse sits atop a steep hill and overlooks the water, and this past weekend, the racecourse. This stadium style seating made it easy to scout other teams and learn the racecourse from above while watching the puffs roll down the course.
One of the cool aspects of this year's Hinman was that so many Olympic sailors and trialists "came home" to team racing less than a week after the US Olympic Trials. In the end, only one team without an Olympic Trials veteran finished in the top nine. For some of these sailors, the Hinman was a vacation, compared to the stress of the trials, however, many of them still had goals of winning at team racing too. Without even going through the competitors lists, there were at least 14 trialists including the top 4 finishers from the men's Laser trials, 5 sailors from the 470 trials including freshly anointed Olympians Stu McNay and Graham Biehl as well as two sailors from the 49er trials including repeat Olympian Tim Wadlow. Our own Panda, Colin Merrick campaigned the Tornado at the recent trials too. Finally, on top of all of the US Olympic level talent in attendance, the top US Virgin Islands 49er team of Anthony Kotoun and Cy Thompson were taking races off of the Panda's on the first day.
Another way of looking at the talent level at this year's Hinman is examining the cumulative team racing resume of the fleet. This year, 12 competitors have been Team Racing World champions and 13 had previously won the Hinman. At least one member from each Intercollegiate Team Racing National Championship team since 1999 was present as well as 8 former College Sailors of the Year (including our own Panda, Clay Bischoff). The number of All American's present is far too many to count. Finally, the 2007 High School National Championship team Tabor Academy showed up to play as well. In short, if you're wondering where to find all of the young talented dinghy sailors in the US, show up at a team racing regatta!
With racing in jeopardy of being called for the day, late Sunday afternoon, Long Island finally cooled off enough to allow the weak southerly breeze to touch down in Oyster Bay. The regatta organizers decided to go straight to the Semi-finals, which pitted the Pandas against the upstart Woonsocket Rockets. The Rockets are a newly formed team comprised of team racing veterans Joel Hanneman, Nick Ewenson and Frank Ustach and a slate of talented crews from St Marys College, Meredith Nordhem, Hilary Wiech and Adrienne Patterson (2007 College Women's Sailor of the Year). We lost our last race of the second gold round robin to the Rockets in what was our first race of the day. This made us a bit nervous because we've had trouble with this team in the past. But when we met them in the Semi's, things were different and we were able to put them away in 2 races. The Rockets went on to beat San Diego YC in the petite finals to finish 3rd overall.
Having advanced past the Rockets, we faced the Whishbone team once again in the finals. This is a match-up we have seen before with the Pandas having met Whishbone in the finals of the 2005 Team Racing Worlds, 2002 and 2003 Hinmans and 2006 and 2007 Wilsons. Our two teams know each other's strengths, weaknesses and personalities very well. Though we may get chippy on the water at times, our two teams respect each other's talents immensely. We knew the finals would be difficult.
In race 1, both Pete/Liz and Clay/Lisa were over early in the middle of a pin-favored line. This mistake was too much to recover from and even though Colin/Amanda made the race close on the last beat. Soon we found ourselves down 0-1 in the best of 3 series. After an extended break between races in which the race committee squared the course, we won the start convincingly and sailed to a win, tying the series 1-1. In the final race we had a good start, but nothing like the previous one but, we were able to convert to a 2-3-5 on the first beat. With boats 1 through 6 stacked up on the port layline approaching mark 1, we converted to a more solid 2-3-4 by the windward mark. We held this combination on the run while Pete/Liz forced Graeme Woodworth / Rich Bell to round mark 3 while Clay/Lisa fought off Tim and Ery Wadlow's attack on the run. Our positions were held steady on the reach leg into mark 4 which allowed us to set up a conservative "weave" for the last beat. The "weave" is an effective way for a 2-3-4 team to keep their combination by doing fewer tacks than the trailing team and making it impossible for the 1st place boat to decide whom to cover. We held this combination to the finish and took the series 2-1 and took the Hinman for our third time.
By winning the Hinman, we have accomplished something we are very proud of that has never been done before which is winning the Wilson Trophy, the World Championship and the Hinman in the same year. Having won the first two and just barely winning the Hinman shows how deep team racing is in the US. This past weekend team racing showed itself to be a healthy and growing part of our sport where all of the young and talented dinghy sailors compete and we are honored to be a part of it.
Hinman Event Page:
Umpire Bryan Macdonald's Competitor Audio and Video Podcasts:
New York Yacht Club Silver Panda
Clay Bischoff / Lisa Keith
Pete Levesque / Liz Hall
Colin Merrick / Amanda Callahan