The weather just would not cooperate for the last day of frostbiting. What was planned as the annual Long Distance Race had to be cancelled because of high winds that were 15-17 knots with gusts clocked at over 20. The Race Committee had set up a course starting at the MBYC dock, out to "Z", to Plum Point, over to Can 6 off KYC dock, then to a mark near the Town Dock, with a finish back at MBYC. Skippers and crew had rigged their boats and were in the water waiting for the starting sequence when a gust of wind caught two of the fleet's more skilled sailors (read: those who win a lot of races) as they were in the middle of a tack, and within a few minutes of each other, went swimming in Manhasset Bay. The RC crash boats were immediately at their side offering assistance. Race Committee cancelled the Long Distance Race and the remaining crash boats escorted the still-upright dinghies back to shore. All skippers and crews were accounted for, though some were somewhat soggy. It is interesting to note that two of the four boats that managed to avoid capsizing had the youngest crew members on board: Cathryn and Johanna Silbersack. Congratulations to those who did not capsize: Bob Kirtland/Mark Cornachio, John Silbersack/Cathryn Silbersack, Jonathan Siener/Johanna Silbersack, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio. After the rather exciting, but short attempt at having a race, all teams and RC enjoyed a delicious picnic at the MBJYC. The Frostbite Annual Awards Dinner will take place at MBYC on Friday, May 14.
Ed Baird, from St. Petersburg, FL, was the overall winner of the 40th Congressional Cup and the new recipient of a Crimson Blazer. Baird, who at 46 was the oldest competitor out of a fleet of ten, was the only semifinalist who hadn't won the blazer. He beat out Terry Hutchinson, New Zealand's Gavin Brady and Australia's Peter Gilmour in a come-from-behind last leg to win a sudden-death championship race by 1 minute 41 seconds. The scheduled best-of-three final was reduced to a single race because the Sailing Instructions said no race could be started after 1600 (4 p.m.) and it was already past 3 o'clock. Hutchinson gained on a favorable wind shift immediately after the start and was able to tack on Baird's nose and lead by 53 seconds, 1:23 and 34 seconds at the three marks before sailing into the fateful leg. With half a mile to go for the title, he did a simple bear-away spinnaker set that took him left and into the lee of one of the oil islands in the Long Beach outer harbor. This allowed Baird to collect line honors at the finish line and collecte $6,000 of the $25,000 total purse for his first SMT victory, which put him in fifth place in the rankings behind Gilmour. The Congressional Cup is part of the Swedish Match Tour, and is the only American stop on the eight-event 2003-2004 schedule. Sportshow TV is producing a half-hour video of the Congressional Cup Regatta that will be aired at a later time on Outdoor Life Network. More information on this as it becomes available. Final results of the 40th Congressional Cup: 1. Ed Baird (USA/Team Musto) 14-8, $6,000; 2. Terry Hutchinson (USA/Team Annapolis Volvo) 14-8, $3,500; 3. Gavin Brady (NZL/Oracle BMW Racing) 14-8, $3,000; 4. Peter Gilmour (AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team) 17-5, $2,500; 5. Kelvin Harrap (NZL/Team New Zealand) 10-8, $2,500; 6. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN/Team Gram-Hansen) 10-8, $2,000; 7. Scott Dickson (USA/Dickson Racing Team) 7-11, $1,750; 8. Mattias Rahm (SWE) 6-12, $1,500; 9. Cameron Appleton (NZL) 6-12, $1,250; and 10. Allan Coutts (NZL) 0-18, $1,000. For more information on the Congressional Cup, the Swedish Match Tour, go to: http://www.lbyc.org and http://www.swedishmatchtour.com Results to date of the Swedish Match Tour after four of the eight events. The top eight qualify for tour championship: 1. Peter Gilmour (AUS/Pizza-La Sailing Team) 77 points; 2. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/SeaLife Rangers) 45 points; 3. Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Radich) 35 points; 4. Gavin Brady (NZL/Oracle BMW Racing) 30 points; 5. Ed Baird (USA/Team Musto) 25 points; 6. Dean Barker (NZL/OMEGA Match Race Team) 24 points; 7. Jesper Bank (DEN) 20 points; 8. Chris Dickson (NZL/Oracle BMW Racing) 20 points; 9.Terry Hutchinson (USA/Team Annapolis Volvo) 20 points; and 10. Kelvin Harrap (NZL/Team New Zealand) 20 points. Many of these names may be familiar to readers as they have competed in the Knickerbocker Cup over the years, such as Ed Baird, Jes Gram-Hansen, Mattias Rahm, Cameron Appleton, Peter Gilmour, Jesper Radich, and Chris Dickson. These top sailors have traveled from all over the world to compete in the Knickerbocker Cup right here on Manhasset Bay. Anyone who is interested is welcome to join the spectator fleet at the next Knickerbocker Cup, which is scheduled for September 1 - 6th. It promises to be just as exciting as in the past. For those who are unfamiliar with match racing, which is quite different from the fleet racing we see on Manhasset Bay each weekend, this may be just the perfect time to come out on the water in a spectator boat to watch the skills of each skipper and crew as they go maneuver at the start and try to cover their opponent to beat them to the finish line first. Expect to hear more about match racing as the summer months unfold.
An era may be ending, at least for Steve Fossett. Just two weeks after he returned from his successful Round The World Sailing world record at the helm of his 125-foot maxi-catamaran, Cheyenne, Fossett announced that he has ended his 11 years international speed sailing. He will focus on 2004-2005 projects in aviation, plus other sporting projects. Fossett is the greatest record-setter in the history of speed sailing with over two dozen total world and race records set. And 13 of the 22 current records listed as 'outright' in the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) record book (http://www.sailspeedrecords.com) are held by Fossett - including the amazing new RTW at 58 days 9 hours on the 125' maxi-cat Cheyenne - and the 2001 New York - UK TransAtlantic rocket ride of 4 days 17 hours (aboard the same boat, then known as PlayStation).
"The round the world record has fulfilled my highest ambition in sailing" admitted Fossett Tuesday "and this just seems like the right time to stop. It has been an exciting - and very fulfilling - 11 years. In the past we've defended our records by re-taking four of them when broken: the 24 Hours (twice), Round Britain & Ireland, and Isle of Wight - but I don't
want to make a program of that. My mind is on aviation projects right now." Fossett, who was the 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year recipient, is selling Cheyenne.