Viper 640 North Americans - Bliksem team sails to victory
by Leighton O'Connor on 11 Sep 2012
On the fourth and final day of the Viper 640 North Americans, Pieter Taselaar, Willem van Waay and Nick Thompson aboard Bliksem erased Saturday’s two point deficit in Sunday’s only race to win the title by four points over Glyn Locke’s Fer de Lance program. The win is Taselaar’s first in the Viper 640 NAs, having won a world championship in Melges 32s in 2009 and the Viper 640 Atlantic Coast Championship in 2011.
2012 Viper 640 North Americans Leighton O'Connor http://www.leightonphoto.com/
Heading into Sunday, five teams had a shot at the title, though the top two teams determined their own destinies. For Locke, the mission was simple: stay ahead of Taselaar to win the championship. For Taselaar, the mission was tougher: beat Locke, and put at least one boat in between the two of them, as Taselaar held the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of more first place finishes. Neither Taselaar nor Locke had any margin for error, with both teams already discarding high scores from Race 5. A second poor finish would open the door for three-time defending champion Brad Boston, lurking in third with the only string of single-digit scores in the entire fleet, and two other teams only a few points behind if either of the top three faltered.
In short, it was the type of day where if you were on top, you hoped for steady, solid breeze to allow for clean sailing. On Sunday, Marblehead had other plans: after three days of sea breeze, sailors awoke for the final day with the wind blowing from the exact opposite direction: a shifty west-northwest wind coming over land that would be anything but consistent. There was enough wind to start on time, giving competitors hope for at least two races to close the hotly contested regatta and determine the winner. Two general recalls later, the wind began to die to six knots.
The race committee’s third attempt allowed competitors from the pin to tack quickly onto port, and the leaders played the winds up the beat, which trended right, but otherwise shifted through 30-40 degrees as competitors approached the mark along the shore of Marblehead Neck.
Jason Carroll’s team aboard Argo rounded first and never looked back to win their second race of the series. A few places back, Bliksem had managed a slightly better start than Fer de Lance and kept the British team at bay up the beat. Despite the difficult conditions, large windshifts and dying breeze, Bliksem managed a third in the race to Fer de Lance’s ninth. The RC waited to see if conditions would improve for a decisive eleventh race, but when they did not, the three guns signaling abandonment for the day meant the title would go to Taselaar.
Among the other prizes awarded at the NAs, Craig and Deborah Wilusz from Fort Walton Beach, Florida won the 'Pride of the Peloton' award for the highest overall finish for a boat not finishing a race in the top quartile. Ron Schute from Ottawa, Canada, propelled by his second place finish in Sunday’s race, finished perfectly midfleet and his entire crew won full foul weather gear outfits from sponsor Atlantis Weathergear. Locke and his team won the Viper 640 EFG Pan American Championship for the second consecutive year by virtue of their strong finishes at a series of regattas from Miami to Newport and through the North Americans. The 2013 Viper 640 North Americans will be held October 10-14, 2013 at Houston Yacht Club in Full results here
Viper 640 North Americans website
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