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Two names synonymous with top-notch sailing have added to their illustrious sailing career. Ralf Steitz, who is the Off-Shore Sailing Coach of the Merchant Marine Academy and who lives in Port Washington, has just won the US Sailing US National Match Racing Championship for the Prince of Wales Bowl. With David Dellenbaugh as skipper, and Ralf and Doug Clark as crew, representing the Pequot YC, the team won 3-0 over Karl Ziegler (Watch Hill YC) in very close racing at the Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, in Oyster Bay. Third place in the regatta was won by an inch by Bill Lynn over Andy Horton from Lake Champlain YC. Many may recall that young Andy Horton was in Port Washington last year participating in the 2001 Knickerbocker Cup. Although not officially from Port Washington (but he grew up and sailed here in Manhasset Bay), Strom Trysail Club Rear Commodore Rich du Moulin scored a solid victory in the 2002 Patriots' Cup international team racing event sailed in Newport, RI over the September 21-22 weekend. Eight yacht club teams from England, Ireland, Canada and the US raced in Shields Class boats in sunny and breezy late summer conditions on Narragansett Bay off Goat Island.

Bay racing was alive and well this past weekend, Oct. 5-6. Mother nature provided nice winds on Saturday, but Sunday was more of a challenge to sailors, as the wind was "Fluky." Saturday was the Long Distance Race for both the Sonar fleet and the Knickerbocker One Design (KODs) fleet. Top boats in the Sonar fleet: 1. #652, Sounder, Rick Jordan/Jeff Shane, 2. #421, Weekend Warrior, Dan Simon/Bill Simon, and 3. #573, Selhun, Bahar Gidwani/Tao Dao. Top boats in the KOD fleet: 1. #8, Second Chance, Perry Lengton, 2. #15, Dybbuk, Roy Israel, and 3. #7, KnickKnack, Arthur Kass. Results for Sonar fleet on Sunday: 1. Sounder, 2. #396, Delight, Bob Kirtland, and 3. #451, Ping, Sue Miller/John Browning.

The Auckland weather this time of year is cool, with unstable southwesterly winds ranging from 15-20 knots of breeze with occasional showers - a forecast that can be repeated throughout all of October and into November, which poses some challenges for the syndicates sailing in the Louis Vuitton Cup Series. The rules of the challenger series state that no race will be started in less than seven knots or more than 19, and that racing will not continue if it is consistently blowing more than 23 knots. It's a good thing that reserve days have been slotted into the regatta to make up for days when the yachts cannot sail, because just this week (Oct. 7), three matches had to be abandoned when lack of wind slowed the boats and they exceeded the 45-minute time limit for completing a leg of the course. The Hauraki Gulf provided massive switches in wind strength and direction, playing havoc with the fortunes of the teams. Prada's Luna Rossa (ITA-74) was the only team to finish a race, beating the Swedish Victory Challenge team.

Round Robin 1 standings as of Oct. 7 - (Win-Loss, Syndicate): 4-0/ One World Challenge; 3-0/ Oracle BMW Racing; 4-1/ Alinghi; 3-1/ Victory Challenge; 2-3/ Prada; 2-3/ Stars & Stripes; 1-3/ GBR Challenge; 0-4 /Le Defi Areva; 0-4/ Mascalzone Latino. As a result of a penalty imposed by ACAP, one point will be deducted from OneWorld's score at the end of Round Robin 2. According to Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts, some of the performances so far in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series have been surprising. But he warned against reading too much into the early results. "The conditions have been very shifty and that tends to favor the boat that gets in front. With more stable wind conditions, the racing was likely to be much closer." Early results, though, are suggesting the three top teams to be Oracle BMW Racing, OneWorld Challenge and the Swiss Alinghi syndicate. A mighty battle looks set to be waged between Team Dennis Conner and the Swedish Victory Challenge group for the fourth place, winning the right to compete in Round Robin 2.

Team Dennis Conner, representing New York YC, and the only all-American team challenging for the America's Cup, will pay their respects to those who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks by hosting 20 New York City Firefighters during the Louis Vuitton Challenger series. The firefighters will visit Auckland and Team Dennis Conner en route to the World Firefighters Games in Christchurch from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. Organizers of the 7th World Firefighters Games have dedicated the games to the memory of all firefighters who have lost their lives in the course of duty - particularly the New York firefighters who died in the World Trade Center disaster last year.

The Sail for America website (www.sailforamerica), has posted some new photos from Sept. 14 and letters of appreciation from those who participated in the Sept. 14 event to commemorate the one year anniversary of the devastating attack on our country. Readers may like to take a look at the photos and wonderful letters that capture the mood of that wonderful day in mid-September. Included here is one of the letters to Michael Fortenbaugh, whose idea of filling New York Harbor with sails became reality:

"We arrived in NYC on 9/12/2002 for the first time since the attack. We boarded the Staten Island Ferry at Battery Park. I wept as the ferry moved away from the City and the changed NY skyline unfolded before me. What a stark reality it was to see. On Saturday, as the boats began to gather, we watched from our hotel room at the Marriott Financial Center. We made our way back to the ferry as the parade was beginning and ended up in the middle of this glorious event as we rode to and from Staten Island. I shot nearly 100 photos of the spectacular display! I now have several awesome photographs of all the boats in the harbor with the skyline in the background. What a breath-taking sight and an extraordinary tribute to the human resolve! True, the Towers fell but the sky did not. And the river rises to meet it. My sincere gratitude to the organizers and participants for reminding us that America IS beautiful!"


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