The 2008 505 North Americans kicked off with a bang with 20+ knot breezes and the level of carnage one would only expect from The Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is in a geographically unique location midway between the cool Pacific and the hot dry regions further inland. The wind springs to life as thermals are funneled by surrounding mountains, delivering chaos and wide grins to those who choose to enter its waters.
With competitors arriving from as far away as Germany, 33 boats have entered this year's championship. As an event associated with the popular annual Gorge Games, the course was populated with camera boats that no doubt caught some spectacular TV footage.
Thursday morning, competitors waited until the very last minute to launch, as they watched the breeze build throughout the morning into what is a typical day at The Gorge – blowing like snot and 2-3 foot waves everywhere. After a short delay, Race 1 started in breeze in the upper teens with gusts in the high twenties.
Taking a cautious route (dropping the kite midway down the second run), Nick Adamson and Steve Bourdow took the first race with Mike Holt and Ben Benjamin finishing second after a brief capsize. Howard Hamlin and Peter Alarie finished third.
Race 2 was a much tighter game with numerous lead changes throughout and just thirty seconds separating the first fifteen boats. Carnage continued, as only 19 of 33 boats finished. Holt and Benjamin took the bullet. Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson recovered from their first race jitters and took second. Third place was taken by Nick Adamson and Steve Bourdow.
Following the second race, the fleet was sent ashore by the RC to wait for the breeze to lighten. It did not, and racing will continue tomorrow at 0930. After the first day of racing, The Gorge has been responsible for 1 broken mast, 5 bent masts, 1 broken shroud, 1 broken spreader, 1 sheared off rudder, a folded spinnaker pole and a busted set of gudgeons. Sailors commented that the RC's promised lunch breaks would likely end up being 'repair breaks' more than anything else. The heavy air specialists from the West Coast have dominated racing so far. Here are the results through two races:
505 Blasting Downwind At The Gorge - Sue Athmann
1. Mike Holt / Ben Benjamin
2. Nick Adamson / Stephen Bourdow
3. Howie Hamlin / Peter Alarie
4. Mike Martin / Jeff Nelson
5. Doug Hagan / Rob Woelfel
2008 505 North American Championships July 16-20, 2008
Columbia River, Cascade Locks, Oregon
Regatta Chairman: Paul VonGrey, phone (360) 679 0831
Regatta Website: www.usa505.org/usa/regattas/2008/NorthAmericans/
International 505 American Section – www.usa.505.org
President: Tyler Moore,
International 505 Yacht Racing Association – www.int505.org
President: Malcolm Pip Pearson, Australia