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Hinman Trophy, offshore sailing, and Mini Transat news

by David Schmidt 28 Sep 2021 10:00 PDT September 28, 2021
Mini Transat EuroChef 2021 Leg 1 sets off from Les Sables d'Olonne © Vincent Olivaud

Summer may have technically handed the baton off to autumn, but that certainly doesn't mean that the sailing scene has been cooling off in North America, at least not yet. This past weekend gave the sailing world multiple great events to follow and participate in, starting with the U.S. Team Racing Championship (September 24-26), which were hosted by the Bristol Yacht Club in Bristol, Rhode Island and contested aboard 420 One Designs.

A total of 24 teams participated in the regatta, which determined the winners of the Hinman Trophy and serious bragging rights. A total of 204 races were conducted, with Team Holiday Road Show (Colin Merrick, David Thompson, Rachel Holick, Christopher Klevan, Greiner Hobbs, and Miranda Bakos) emerging as the winners.

Impressively, this was Hobbs, Bakos, and Klevan's third time winning the Hinman, while it was Merrick's sixth time winning this prestigious trophy.

"We tried to keep it simple, just kept it going fast," said Merrick, in an official event release. "We were a little slower upwind, so getting off the line clean was big for us," added Hobbs. "We just kept pushing the race forward."

Team Holiday Road Show and their competitors were presented with challenging conditions that tested each team. "The winner was a master of all kinds of conditions," said Shannon Bush, the event's PRO, in an official communication. "It was nuking on the first day, shifty and light and gnarly on the second day, and champagne today."

All told, the combination of conditions, teams, and competition level came together nicely.

"We had champagne conditions and the competition was terrific," said Bruce Cook, Vice Chair of the regatta's umpire team. "The finals went down to the last race, and went down to the last half of a leg. You couldn't ask for better."

Meanwhile, down the coast in Annapolis, Maryland, the racecourse action traded small One Designs for big ones at the U.S. Offshore Sailing Championship (September 23-26), which was hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, and which was raced aboard the school's fleet of Navy 44 MK IIs. The event featured both round-the-buoy racing and distance racing, and it was marked by light airs on Saturday and stronger conditions on Sunday.

"We had a decent start, and thought we had a good shift, and it turned out to be not such a great shift," said winning skipper Steve Travis, from Seattle's Corinthian Yacht Club, in an official event release, about the event's final race.

"We rounded the mark in third, and the boat in front of us took his kite down and put a jib up, which ended up being not the right thing to do," continued Travis. "And then the lead boat gybed away, and when he came back, he was behind us. From there, it was just a reach to the weather mark. Then it was shifty, inside the harbor with 30-degree shifts... it was stressful to hang on... but we did it."

Speaking of offshore sailing, this past weekend also marked the conclusion of first Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship (August 26-September 26). This event involved 816 nautical miles of offshore sailing as boats made their way up the Italy's West Coast from Brindisi to Venice. The race was broken into three stages, with stops in Bari and Marina di Rivenna, and was contested aboard a fleet of ten One Design Figaro 3 keelboats.

Once the racing and the protest-room meetings were concluded, Team ITA—Enit, which is comprised of Claudia Rossi and Pietro D'Alì, claimed top honors. They were joined on the winner's podium by Giovanna Valsecchi and Andrea Pendibene (Team ITA—Marina Militare) and Sophia Faguet and Jonas Gerckens (Team Belgium).

"It's an amazing feeling, it's like a dream that has come true," said Rossi in an official event release. "We fought until the end but then we had some protests to discuss, so it was not really easy. But now we can just feel good and have a party together because we did a great race and great teamwork together."

We at Sail-World tip our hat to all of the teams that participated in these great late-season events, and we're excited about the Mini Transat, which began on Monday (September 27) and saw a fleet of 90 singlehanded skippers set out on the 1,350 nautical mile course from Les Sables d'Olonne, France, to Santa Cruz de La Palma, in the Canary Islands. Once in La Palma, skippers will have a stopover to rest, repair their boats, and catch up on sleep before heading off for the final 2,700 nautical leg to Saint-François in Guadeloupe.

North American interests are being represented by Jay Thompson of California who has been sailing the world's oceans since 2006. The former Laser sailor has previously raced aboard high-performance steeds such as TP52s and Marstrom 32s. He will be sailing aboard a Guillaume Verdier-designed boat (#CocoTopia) that he built himself.

The first leg of this two-stage race began in 16-20 knot airs. French skipper Brieuc Lebec led the fleet around the windward mark and then out to sea.

Sail-World wishes the entire Mini Transat fleet safe passage to La Palma, and to Guadeloupe.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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