2018 National Championship Report
The 2018 RC Laser National Championship Regatta will be remembered by all as one with many Mother Nature challenges. To start, sailors traveled through torrential winds and rain, which were remnants of Hurricane Michael on Thursday. After long trips from Rochester NY, Eastern Shore MD, South Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Bahamas competitors were greeted by a blustery registration and practice race on Friday with no let up throughout Saturday with cold rain on the first day of competition. A delightful Surf or turf dinner followed practice racing at the Newport Yacht Club hosted by Newport RC Laser Fleet Commodore Lynne Spingler and her team. The enjoyable Cocktail hour and dinner was followed by the “Ask the Champions” session. Three former National Champions were present, Jim Kaighin, Dave Brawner, and Dave Ramos. Jim Pascalides, Regatta host, started off interrogating the champions trying to glean go fast tips for all. Others soon chimed in with questions on all aspects of competitive RC Laser racing. The simplicity of this great design left all in attendance understanding that speed comes from smarts and practice.
Three seeding races determined Gold and Silver Fleets and a total of 5 races with an 8-10 cold rainy NW breeze were completed Saturday. Sunday brought a warm, relatively speaking, 58 degrees, partly cloudy skies, and a 4-7k westerly, which is rare, and a nightmare for this venue. This breeze backed to SW requiring complete course relocation and then veering to the West requiring another complete course relocation.
Two cruise ships in Newport Harbor and the Fort Adams Sail Newport venue were responsible for over 200 spectators checking out this unique regatta on Sunday.
RD Cliff Martin, Commodore of Minuteman Model Yacht Club and Editor of our AMYA QUARTERLY magazine, was up to the task of managing these challenges with frequent course adjustments, relocations, and making the mark boat earn its keep.
Former National Champion Jim Kaighin, from the Bahamas, sailed consistently in spite of the unwelcoming cold conditions to win the Championship. Jim was followed by multi class National Champion Dave Ramos. Third went to a new member of our class, Chuck Allen, a former URI All American Sailor and present North Sails Off Shore One Design representative. Chuck is a member of the “Wickford Harbor Mudheads”, one of the sponsors of this year’s event. Jon Gorbold from Lake Canandaigua NY, and Dave Brawner from South Jersey and Florida rounded out the top 5 in Gold Fleet which was so competitive 7 of the 11 finished with a bullet.
Harry Henkel of Easton MD won silver Fleet with a tiebreaker over his teammate Dave Branning of Tilghman Island MD. Must have been a long ride back for both of them as they came together. Neill Gray of the host Newport Fleet was third and Bryson Hall of the host Wickford Harbor Mudheads fourth. Henry Spingler of the Newport Fleet was fifth.
The Long Distance Award was presented to The National Champion Jim Kaighin of Bahamas. The Grand Master Award went to Dave Branning. Special awards were presented to lady competitors Anna Gorbold of Canandaigua NY and Susie Mullally of Williamsburg VA.
All raffle tickets were sold for the new RC Laser donated by Jim Myers of Intensity Sails and the lucky sailor was Harry Henkel.
The event was privileged to have a very experienced scoring/finishing team of Lynne Spingler Newport, Donna Costa Exeter and my good friend David Fine, Fleet captain of the RC Laser Fleet of Sarasota Model Yacht Club, who flew up from Florida to assist with this National event. Charlie Costa and Dave “Mac” McLaughlin worked hard under challenging conditions in the mark boat. Thanks to Dave McGhie for the spare mark boat, which was delivered in 25 knots of headwinds Thursday night. We needed it on Friday for sure.
Special thanks were given to Lynne Spingler and her team at the Newport Yacht Club for a great social event. Emily Greagori and Kim Cooper at Sail Newport were our gracious hosts coordinating and informing the City of Newport of this National event.
Our RD, Cliff Martin, with the support of his wife Susan did an extraordinary job of completing 11 races under trying conditions. We thank him for being our PRO.
And finally a very special shout out of gratitude went to our National Class Secretary Nick Mortgu and his wife Beth Lippincott for the myriad of preparations necessary for this event. The trophies were extraordinary and gifts and shirts were very cool. We are so fortunate to have them at the helm of our class.