Nov 15, 2012

US Formula 16 Nats: Sarah Newberry & John Casey 1st

Great result for Sarah & JC that are campaigning for Rio. Also for Falcon Marine with a 1st, 3rd (Matt & Gina). The F16 keeps growing stronger in the US focusing on the Youth too. Report below by Matt Mc Donald. Images sent by Matt and Leandro Spina. More on CSN FB









Report by Matt McDonald / Falcon Marine. November 8-11, 2012 was held the F16 US National Championship at St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club in Panama City, FL. 29 teams made the trip to the Redneck Riviera and no one should have left disappointed as the group there put on a first rate event. The co-chairs Chris Reiss and Catharina Whitehead went above and beyond to make sure we had constant top notch food, drink and entertainment. They brought in the famous Paul Ulibarri (PU) to work the weather perfectly and get
off 9 races over a 3 day period.

The fleet at this event was highly stacked. In attendance were many National champions out of other catamaran classes, several multi-time Olympians and Olympic medalists, Alter Cup champions, aspiring Olympic teams and pro sailor/ movie star. What was best to see was a large contingent of youth teams challenging for the title. Multihull programs that are starting at locations like St Andrews and Sarasota Youth Sailing provided a number of teams and the training programs they have in place really showed. These teams were constantly vying for the top positions in every race and although most of them only just recently started in the multihulls, they were schooling a lot of teams with 20+ years under their belt. Due to the efforts of people like Leandro Spina, the US Olympic Development coach and his work to make the F16 class the development boat for the multihulls, the fledgling youth programs in the US and the original core of F16 enthusiasts the F16 fleet is establishing itself solidly in performance multihull racing.



Post Super storm Sandy and a follow on cold front greeted the sailors arriving in Panama City with some weather not typically associated with Florida. The Minnesota, Wisconsin and New England teams were glad though to get out of snow and freezing temps at home and were obvious at the site by their choice of clothing vs. the locals in long pants, sweatshirts and jackets. The sun was out though and the wind light for the setup day and practice race, so moods were good. The Welcome party spread was amazing and set everyone off on the right foot to have a great weekend.

The events start Friday morning was bright and sunny, but without much wind. A lot of teams used the time to continue with their last minute boat work, while rest either lounged or got involved in a game of Frisbee (guess which teams were the latter). After a couple of hour delay enough wind built for the race committee to signal everyone off the beach. Although it was relatively light conditions, PU managed to get off 2 good races for the day before everyone had to sail back to the club with the sun going down. Enrique Figueroa scored 2 bullets and quickly established himself as the team to beat after the first day.

Saturday awoke with a bit more promise for the racing conditions. The sun was shining and the breeze looked good and even across the bay as we went over the bridge on the way to the event site. With a nice spin reach out to the course everyone was pumped for some good racing. The sea breeze though began to fight the prevailing winds and the actual conditions slowly mellowed after the first gun. With moderate conditions shifting to somewhat light, the committee managed to run 3 more 2 lap races Saturday. Staying consistent with all 4th place finishes was the team of Newberry and Casey. Team McDonald did likewise with two 3’s and a 5th. Figueroa lost a little of his consistency and 2 bullets from Taylor Reiss brought them right into contention for the F16 title as well. Saturday night was the banquet and raffle, and the group was abuzz with the forecast for some better winds yet for Sunday and the racing standings completely in flux with the top 5 teams separated by only 5 points.

Sunday’s conditions came as promised. Sunny and a bit of breeze with white caps across the bay. 4 good races were going to be run by PU and team. Figueroa and Reiss set themselves up strong in the first 2 races with some solid finishes, while in race 2 both Newberry and McDonald sailed their throw out. Rolling into race 8 the title was still in reach for the top 4 teams and the getting a clean start over one another created quite a battle. Newberry pulled off the bullet with Figueroa and McDonald getting a 4th and 5th respectively. Reiss’s hopes took slight turn when he sailed his throw out in that race. Now race 9. Newberry and Figueroa sit in a tie, with Reiss holding a 2 point lead over McDonald for 3rd and all 4 have a legitimate shot at the overall title. Another clean start for the fleet and the top 6 boats in the standings are showing they all deserve to be there as they all round up front. By the second lap of the race have pulled into the lead and McDonald sat in 3rd behind Wilmont but Reiss is only ½ a boat length behind. At the second bottom mark there is a bit of confusion with Newberry whether it was a 2 or 3 lap race. T

hey over stood the gate just to be sure, but lost their lead margin when McDonald rounded 2nd with Wilmont right behind. By the last upwind mark the 2 boats rounded within feet of each other and headed for the last finish of the event. Not being able to pull off the roll, Newberry jibed off early.

The spin halyard came uncleated on McDonald’s boat when they jibed clear, and immediately Newberry jibed back to attack and try to cover the momentary blunder. The spin was back up quickly, but the slight lead going to the finish had all but evaporated. With Newberry knowing they had to put boats between them and Figueroa and the same for McDonalds and Reiss both teams were leaning and squeaking out every bit of boat speed possible to try and get to the finish line first. McDonald managed to just keep his place for a 1st place finish in the last race. Reiss came in right behind but in 4th and Figueroa moments behind that in 6th. Sailing back to the beach everyone is trying to calculate their finish as it is still too close to know for sure.

Final standings:
1st Newberry/Casey 1st (Falcon),
1st Figueroa 2nd (Viper),
1st McDonald 3rd (Falcon)

In the end 6 teams scored bullets, and all of them finished in the top 6 for the event. It was probably the tightest championship level event I have been to, not only at the top, but the spread across the entire fleet was close in all the races. The last place finishers were often very close to the pack, and the many youth teams were always finishing high in each race.
This is definitely an event to put on your schedule for next year.

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