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Ready Steady Tokyo, Hinman Trophy, U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship

by David Schmidt 20 Aug 08:00 PDT August 20, 2019
U.S. Men's 470 athletes, Stu McNay and Dave Hughes © Junichi Hirai / Bulkhead Magazine Japan

While the start of summer 2019 was dominated by offshore-racing news from Grand Prix events such as the Transatlantic Race, the Transpacific Yacht Race, and the Fastnet Race, the news cycle from summer's second half is being ruled by small boat sailing. Take this past weekend, where three important events — Ready Steady Tokyo, the George R. Hinman Trophy, and the U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship — unfurled (or are unfurling, in the case of the former event) on the waters off of Enoshima, Japanp; Newport Beach, California, and Detroit, Michigan (respectively). Not surprisingly, all three of these high-level events featured world-class competition.

There's no question that Ready Steady Tokyo-Sailing (August 15-22) is the place to be for aspiring Olympic class sailors, as this event not only serves as the official test event for next summer's Olympic Games (July 24-August 9, 2020) but it also offers opportunity for countries and individual sailors to earn berths to the XXXII Olympiad. Moreover, it's a chance for these talented sailors to speed test against their rivals, to ensure that their training is progressing accordingly, and to begin to acclimatize to the heat that's likely to play a big role in next summer's racing.

First the good news for North American sailors. Sarah Douglas (CAN) continues her tour de force in the Laser Radial class, and as of this writing is sitting in second place with a scorecard that includes one bullet.

Now the less than great news for fans of American Olympic class sailing: No American-flagged team has cracked into the Top Five in their respective classes (although American Laser sailor Christopher Barnard earned two proud bullets in race three and race six). As of this writing, Stuart McNay and David Hughes are sitting in sixth place in the Men's 470 fleet after six races, while Stephanie Roble and Margaret Shea, who are competing in the 49er FX fleet, are sitting in eighth place after nine races.

Barnard is currently sitting in ninth place in the Men's Laser fleet, while U.S. Laser Radial sailor Erika Reineke is also sitting in ninth place in her fleet.

Racing continues through Thursday at this important and highly competitive event, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, on U.S. waters, the annual U.S. Team Racing Championships for the George R. Hinman Trophy was determined on the waters off of Newport Beach, California, where 12 polished teams squared off to determine the fastest guns. Ultimately, Team Holiday Sideshow, consisting of Johnny Norfleet, Christopher Klevan, Greiner Hobbs, Miranda Bakos, Ian Barrows, and Clara Robertson, sailed home with top honors.

"Everyone had their moment this week and each boat stepped up when they needed to," said Klevan in an official press release.

Others on his team agreed. "We knew we had some kinks to work out between the three boats, but we knew we could work it out in the end," said Norfleet, also in an official press release. "We just wanted to get to the knock-out round and be in position to win."

Finally, jumping to Detroit, Michigan, the first-ever U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship took place under fine conditions that saw skipper Allie Blecher and her crew of Ali Blumenthal, Krysia Pohl, and Beka Schiff claim top honors out of a field of seven teams. "This is a good one," said Blecher in an official press release. "This is the highlight of our season. We've been working towards this one in particular."

While Blecher and company earned a convincing 2-0 win over skipper Giselle Nyenhuis and her three-person crew of Dana Riley Hayes and Molly Vandermoer, racecourse conditions proved taxing throughout their battle. "There was a bit of a cross current," said Blecher. "We had to make sure we weren't sailing too far in one direction or the other. We had to pay attention to the puffs and make sure we weren't overstanding when lifted because of the current."

Sail-World extends big congratulations to Team Holiday Sideshow and Blecher and company for their great wins, and we're sending our best wishes to all sailors competing at Ready Steady Tokyo-Sailing.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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