The Manhasset Bay Fall Series was started in 1979 so that big boat racers could take advantage of great winds that typically fill Long Island Sound in the fall. Over the years, the Fall Series have lived up to its goal - and rarely disappoints teams who travel from all up and down Long Island Sound to participate in this last big boat race of the season. But by all accounts, this year's Fall Series was exceptional. There were winds so high that racing had to be cancelled, one day it was cold and rained, but the wind was up to keep the sailors happy. Throw in a challenging shifty north-westerly on the last day of the four-day series and this year's Fall Series was one for the history books. High winds, men overboard, gear failures and breakdowns.
The first weekend's weather was classic for Manhasset Bay Fall Series - winds out of the ENE at 15 - 20 knots. Two races the first Saturday were followed by a long distance race on Sunday.
On Saturday of the second weekend of racing, the wind was clocked just about 40 knots, with promises of even higher gusts - possibly in the high 50s. One boat had already broken their boom and was heading home, and ripped mains and a few blown-out chutes (spinnakers) were seen around the race course. All this in spite of the RC tucking the race course into Hempstead Harbor to avoid the rolling seas in the middle of the Sound. Race Committee cancelled the second race of the day on that Saturday afternoon and sent the racers back to the club for the traditional gathering of food and drink and tales of racing on the high seas. Overhearing some of the conversations back on land, one might have thought that these tales of high winds and even higher seas were just more "fish tales." Not this year. No need for exaggeration; it was the real deal. Tired, wet and exhilarated racers spoke of a particular mark roundings or the competitive starts.
The final Sunday's weather drew some signs of relief from the competitors, and two shorter races in the shifty/streaky NW breeze were completed. Competitors signaled their appreciation and approval of the RC and the whole regatta with their enthusiasm at the awards ceremony as the sun set on the final day of this four-day regatta. A great series: good wind, fast racing, and memories that can carry those racers who do not frostbite through the long and lonely winter months when they will be relegated to that long overdue laundry list to "to dos" around the house.
Top boats by division: Class 1 - IRC: 1. #4040, Infinity (Farr 40), John Thomson, Manhasset Bay YC, 2. #39516, Avalanche (Farr 395), Craig Albrecht, Port Washington YC, and 3. #128, Argo (Melges 32), Jason Carroll, Larchmont YC. Class 3 - IRC: 1. #52920, Screaming Eagle (J/122), John Chapman, Peconic Bay Sailing Association, 2. Troubador (Express 37), Jamie Anderson, New York YC, and 3. #18321, Soulmates (Express 37), Adam Loory, Huguenot YC/Storm Trysail Club. Class 4 - PHRF: 1. #43827, Patience (Tripp 33), Rick Royce, Glen Cove YC. 2. #83033, Vex (J Boat), Doug Vaughn, Lloyd Harbor YC, and 3. #258, Tango (Ben 36.7), Chuck Norris, Morris YC. Class 5 - J/105:1. #324, Kincsem, Joerg Esdorn/Duncan Henn, American YC, 2. #59, Gumption 3, Kevin Grainger, New York YC, and 3. #167, Peregrina, John Burack, YRALIS. Class 6 - PHRF: 1. #283, Hustler (J/29), John Esposito, City Island YC, 2. #14, Thin Man (J/92), City Island YC, and 3. #257, Rift (J.29), Bill Maher, Lloyd Harbor YC. Class 7 - PHRF: 1. #23733, Dreadlocks (Tarten Ten), Jeff Hammer, Lloyd Harbor YC, 2. #41302, Borderline (C&C 35 Mk3), Steve Bishop/John Asch, Old Greenwich YC, and 3. #274, Kinsale (J/30), Michael White, Cresthaven YC.
The Manhasset Bay Challenge Cup is the oldest yachting trophy competed for annually in the United States. Only the famous America's Cup and the Brooklyn Cup precede it, and they are competed for at longer intervals. Since 1902, the Challenge Cup has been won by 26 different clubs from Chicago, to Marblehead, to Bermuda, with Eastern YC of Marblehead winning it nine times. Manhasset Bay has been the victor seven times, winning in 1903, 1930, 1965, 1971, 1975, 1995, 1998 and 2002. This year the Challenge Cup was part of the Fall Series and was raced in J/105s. The winner, Kincsem, Joerg Esdorn, won the Cup representing American YC, which has not won since 1911, when S. Wainwright on Cara Mia, won it two years in a row (1910 and 1911). Congratulations to the team on Kincsem.
The John G. Thomson Sr. Memorial Trophy for best overall performance in IRC or one design was awarded to Joerg Esdorn and Duncan Henn, Kincsem (J105), finishing with a 2-1-1-(4)-2-1, total 7 pts. Hustler's straight bullets won John Esposito's J29 the Ted Clark Trophy for Best performance in PHRF classes, finishing 1-1-1-1-(2)-1, total 5 pts.
The Huguenot Challenge Trophy was awarded for the first time in 2006 to commemorate the three Huguenot Yacht Club members who won their classes at the 2005 Manhasset Bay Fall Series. The trophy is awarded to the yacht club with the three best scores in the Manhasset Bay Fall Series. In 2006 Lloyd Harbor YC won and in 2007 Lloyd Harbor tied with the NYYC, but lost the tie breaker. In 2008 Lloyd Harbor once again won the Huguenot Challenge trophy. So far, no other club has won with three first place finishes as Huguenot did in 2005. The three boats from Lloyd Harbor that gave them the Huguenot Challenge Trophy again this year were Dreadlocks, Jeff Hammer, PHRF 7, Vex, Dough Vaughn, PHRF 4, and Rift, Bill Maher, PHRF 6.
Event founder, John Thomson, Jr., took honors in IRC class 1, and recalled the first Fall Series at the awards presentation. The biggest smiles at the awards ceremony came from Rick Royce's crew of Webb Institute students. According to RC Chair, Vice Commodore Sue Miller, "their pre-race tunes on Sunday morning were enjoyed by the RC."