The Baxter Team From Larchmont YC Wins the 2007 Interclub National Championship
John Baxter, with crew member Molly Baxter, from Larchmont YC, has won the 2007 Interclub National Championship, held at the Manhasset Bay YC on April 14-15. The Baxter team captured the top prize by beating five-time winner Jim Bowers. Bowers came to the Nationals with the hopes of having a three-peat, having won the 2005 and 2006 championships, but that was not to be. The Baxters had prepared well for this regatta, having raced the week before with the local fleet to check out the water and prevailing wind direction on Manhasset Bay. Their due diligence paid off, as they beat their closest competitor by 32 points.
This was no "walk in the park" competition. With 50 of the top frostbiters jockeying for air at the starting line, PRO Sue Miller had to invoke the "I" flag by the third race, and then after three more General Recalls, added the "Z" flag to try to get a race started. The threat of the "Z" flag worked, and by the end of the day, nine races were completed. For those readers unfamiliar with why these flags would help stem the aggressive sailing at the start of a race, Sue Miller explains, "In a highly competitive fleet, and with an outgoing current, we had a series of General Recalls, which means so many boats were over the starting line early that we could not identify them. With the "I" flag in place, a boat over early has to sail around one of the end points of the starting line, which takes adds a lot of time to that particular race. When we still had a lot of General Recalls, I raised the "Z" flag. This means that a boat over early not only has to sail around the end points of the line to get a clear start, but will get an automatic 20 percent added to their score for the day. These percentages are cumulative, so if a boat repeatedly is over early, each time they would receive an additional 20 percent. Thankfully, we didn't have that situation, and we were able to get starts off after that."
Back on land, thoughts turned to the looming nor'easter that was scheduled to hit western Long Island Sound early the next day. When William Taylor, a Port Washington resident and columnist for the New York Herald Tribute, wrote his "famous" column describing the first frostbite regatta on January 23, 1932, he said, "The racing had everything that a good Frostbite regatta ought to have. It rained during the first race, rained and hailed during the second and snowed during the third." Taylor never mentioned category two hurricanes or eight inches of flooding downpours. At one point it looked like there may be a window of opportunity to get one or two more races in on Sunday morning, but when the wind on Manhasset Bay spiraled to 28 knots very quickly in the early morning, with predictions of even higher winds, RC cancelled for the day.
Manhasset Bay Commodore Don Richardson opened the Awards Ceremony by congratulating all the competitors and commented, "MBYC was pleased to host the IC Dinghy Nationals this year as we are the birthplace of frostbiting. Congratulations to all the competitors who raced a full day on Saturday. Too bad the nor'easter is preventing you from having another great day of sailing!" With the help of Commodore Richardson and Pedro Lorson, Sue Miller handed out the awards. Women's Division winner: Hawley Waldman and Iris Vogel, Larchmont YC. Masters Division winner: Steve Benjamin and Charlie McHugh, Larchmont YC. Division B winners: 1. Peter Beardsley and Rachel Beardsley, Larchmont YC, 2. Chip Whipple and Alex Whipple, Manhasset Bay YC, and 3. Rich du Moulin and Dorothee Bergin, Larchmont YC.
The top boats in the 2007 IC Dinghy Championship: 1. John Baxter and Molly Baxter, Larchmont YC, 2. Jim Bowers and Sarah Hitchcock, Winthrop, 3. Chad Atkins and Byron Eichorn, Newport YC, 4. Steve Benjamin and Charlie McHugh, Larchmont YC, 5. Ben Cesare, and Kim Cesare, Larchmont YC, 6. Ed Adams and Luke Adams, Boston, and 7. Dan Ronan and Sophia Lesser, Larchmont YC. When asked about his win, Baxter said, "We've done well in the past and been in a position to win, but then had a major mess-up. We were here last week and the wind was pretty much the same on Saturday. The competition was awesome; as good as it is in any year. With 50 boats, all the top interclub sailors in the U.S. were here." Second place finisher, Jim Bowers commented, "We won this event for the last two years and have won five times overall. John beat us pretty handily - they were really, really fast. We were just hanging on to get second."
This year's nationals saw the dedication of a new trophy. Steve and Heide Benjamin, who won the IC Dinghy Nationals three times in Wharf Rat, have founded the Wharf Rat Challenge, to be awarded to the skipper who receives the highest points over the 2006-2007 frostbite season. Each team needed to compete in three of five regattas: the Massachusetts Bay Championships, MBYC Frostbite Annual New Year's Regatta, Mid-winters in Annapolis, Stanley Bell at Larchmont, and the IC Dinghy Nationals. To be eligible for this trophy, the skipper must sail in the Nationals and has his or her pick of the other two. High point wins the trophy. Steve said, "The idea is to encourage participation in the regattas and in the Nationals - we all have so much fun racing against each other. We wanted to promote racing and mix up the fleets a bit and are really happy with how well it worked out this year." Eleven boats qualified for the Wharf Rat trophy. Top teams for the season: 1. Steve Benjamin and Charlie McHugh, Larchmont YC, 2. John Baxter and Molly Baxter, Larchmont YC, 3. Chad Atkins and Byron Eichorn, Newport YC, 4. Paul Jon Patin and Anne Patin, Manhasset Bay YC, 5. Pedro Lorson and Mimi Berry Lorson, Manhasset Bay YC, and 6. Fran and Tucker Charles, Hyannis and Winthrop. In accepting the award, Steve said, "the idea was not to dedicate a trophy to myself... Next year there may be one more regatta, so see you next year!"
For complete race results and photos of the event, see: www.manhassetbayyc.org.