by Anne Cottrell and Paul Jon Patin
The 1998 Sunfish Worlds were sailed on Long Island’s Great South Bay at the Sayville Yacht Club. 12 Countries were represented with competitors from Bermuda, Curacao, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Martinique, The Netherlands, Ireland, Bonaire, Dominican Republic, Italy and the USA. The regatta was run completely by approximately 100 SYC volunteers who fed, housed and entertained the 100 competitors. Race management was handled professionally by co-chairs Bill Ludlum and Gary Loker.
The conditions throughout the week were moderate to heavy due to impending ominous weather from Hurricane Bonnie. Unlike past North Americans sailed at Sayville, which brought a variety of wind conditions over week long periods, this year’s Worlds were sailed in prevailing southwest breezes that typically ranged from 12 to 25 knots. Sea conditions were notoriously “choppy” making for exciting reaching and running legs.
Race One – 12 to 15 knots, SW. Bermudian Malcolm Smith, the 1994 World Champion and the North American winner in Houston earlier this year, set the tone for the remainder of the week winning the first race. Solid upwind speed would foreshadow a regatta much like the one he won in Bermuda, the last hurricane-stalked Worlds. Cor Van Aanholt from Curacao followed in second place with USA’s Paul-Jon Patin in a close third. Hank Saurage and Dan Feldman flirted with the top 3 with impressive upwind speed finishing 4-5 respectively.
Race Two – 14 to 22 knots, SW. Race Two was Cor Van Aanholt’s chance to show his speed and stamina upwind in the heavy-air last beat passing Patin in the last 150 yards of the leg. Other competitors who displayed their heavy-air ability were David Van Cleef, who jumped out to a lead early on and John Barlett, top Master of the event, who finished fifth.
Race Three -12 to 14 knots, SW. (Conditions best known as.. .typical for the Great South Bay) With the leaders after Day One comprised of former World champions, Todd Edwards, of the USA, made his mark winning the Third Race and establishing himself as a contender for the series. Fine finishes by Joe Blouin and Liam Cavanaugh were posted as the Day l’s top three were absent from the top five.
Race Four – 15 to 20 knots, SW. Winds built for the Fourth Race, which was sailed back-to-back with the Third Race with the threat of the hurricane effecting the possibility of completing a five-race series. Race committee officials — and Vanguard Sailboats — were concerned that the entire event would be ended if the storm hit SYC’s shores before the end of the week. In attempt to start a fifth race, a large squall came through and forced the committee to abandon at the time of the start losing the opportunity to confirm the series with the possibility of hurricane force winds moving from the Carolinas.
Race Five – 0 to 14 knots, SE shifting to SW. Feeling the pressure from all sides, the committee attempted to complete the series during the lay day with the Fifth Race on Wednesday morning. In very light breezes from the Southeast, notable finishers were Nancy Haberland (Top Woman), Bill Brangiforte, and Don Bergman, who played the filling breezes perfectly. And as the sea breeze filled the boats from the left crossed including Clinton Edwards and Christine DiResta who posted top 10 finishes… but not before the Sou’Wester clicked in. Malcolm Smith’s 4 in this race would perhaps be an omen.
Race Six – 14 to 18 knots, SW In spite of all the ominous predictions, the wind turned around and came out of the Southwest again. With a Jens rig and particular prowess, Todd Edwards captured his second first of the event launching himself and three time World Champion, Donnie Martinborough (2nd) into the six boat mix. With the potential of 8 scheduled races, a throw-out would put 6 competitors in the money, each with a chance to win.
Race Seven – 15 to 20, E. After a Thursday lay day, the threat of Bonnie was still present. Attempting to race a full eight race series, the committee announced that it would sail the last two races back to back. Between leaving the beach and the start of the Seventh Race, the wind built considerably, reaching a solid 15 to 20 knots. Smith led the entire race, putting himself in a strong position to recapture another championship.
Race Eight – 20 to 25, E. Cor Van Aanholt again was the victor in a race of true stamina. A race that left the fleet with considerable carnage. But Van Aanholt’s tremendous effort come-from-behind win was not enough to catch the strong performance of Malcolm Smith finishing second in race 8 and first overall.
Just as rare as a hurricane affecting a Sunfish World’s is a repeat performance of winning the World’s. This is Malcolm’s 2nd World Championship, and that on the heels of the ‘98 NA win! A rare accomplishment indeed. Congratulations Malcolm!
In addition to the race winners, special trophies were awarded to:
|Top Youth||Alejandro Berrios (PUR)|
|Top Woman||Nancy Haberland (USA)|
|Top Master||John Bartlett (USA)|
|Marco Polo Award|