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Image: Chris Hampe mid gybe at the 2014 Worlds, San Francisco. Photo © Robert Muller

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New York Canoe Club International Challenge Cup 1988

Noank, Connecticut, USA

Held on Fisher's Island Sound, out of the Ram Island Yacht Club in Noank, Ct., USA on Sunday, July 24 and Monday, July 25 1988. Sail and boat measurement was on Saturday. There were opportunities for familiarization sailing Thursday and Friday of the previous week, but no one went, rain/light air. And it was weather, or the lack of it that plagued the event. About Tuesday, a stationary front chose to sit on Connecticut, destroying the usual predictable sea breeze pattern, bringing a week of rain and light air when it wasn't raining.

The Challengers, were represented by Bob Lewis of Vancouver in "Mr. Kite" and Martin Herbert of Calgary in "Miss Vicki of Jazzland". Erich Chase of San Francisco in "After Midnight" and Steve Clark of Warren, R.I. in "Cricket" were defenders.

Race Committee was your correspondent, Paul Hillar and Leslie Fuller, in a borrowed Mako, with the catboat Goblin being used for spectators. The first day a number of Club boats were out as well. Course was a 6 mile Olympic triangle, windward leeward, windward, legs one nautical mile.

On Sunday, after a noon harbour start, the first race finally got off at 2.04 pm, in a light SW breeze and powerboat chop. Breeze Fl, sailors barely on the rail, or inboard. Up the beat Clark and Herbert go right, Lewis and Chase left. Weathermark, Clark leads, followed by Herbert, Lewis, Chase. At reach mark, 43 minutes into race, it was Clark, Herbert +32, Lewis +1.05, Chase trailing badly at +2.40. Lewis catches fire on second reach leg, passing Herbert. Clark, 3.04 pm, Lewis +45, Herbert +1.55 and Chase climbing back at +2.04. Up the second beat, with people sitting in middle of canoe, Clark increases his lead, Chase passes Herbert, who falls way back. Clark, 3.31 p.m. Lewis +52. Chase +1.16, and Herbert +2.45. The race then begins again. Lewis and Herbert, taking advantage of a shift from SW to NW, where a rain shower had been sitting over the land. and superior downwind speed both pass Clark with Herbert taking the cover, no matter which way Clark went. Breeze gradually shifted NW, and built to a sit on the slide velocity. Clark managed to slip in between the two Canadians, and come out using superior up wind speed to win at 4.l1 p.m., Herbert +1.02, Lewis +1.30 and Chase at +2.00.

On Monday despite a harbour start of 11, did not get the first race off until 2.48 p.m. Course was set closer to Noank Harbour, as there was less boat traffic. After an hour or so of waiting fur the wind, it initially set in from the south east, so much so that the committee set a course. Once the course was set, the wind died, not to come up for another hour, out of the SW. Started in a drifter, but with the promise of a building breeze. Chase and Herbert went into the middle of the Sound, with Clark and Lewis playing the shore to the north. This paid off, with Clark rounding the weather mark at 3.09, and Lewis at +1.00. Chase was next at +l.45, not having gone out as far as Herbert who rounded at +3.00. On the first reach, everybody whittled at Clark's lead, with Lewis moving noticeably faster. Clark 3.19 p.m. Lewis +20, Chase +1.35, Herbert +2.20.. By the leeward mark, Lewis had passed Clark, and both Chase and Herbert had gained. Lewis 3.59 p.m. Clark +23, Chase +1.18, Herbert +l.47. The race committee was wondering whether the breeze would stay around for the third race. The second beat started with people sitting on their slides, going to mid- slide by the end. Again, Clark showed superior windward speed, and rounded at 3.44 p.m., with Chase at +37, Lewis +1.00 and Herbert at +1.30. On run Lewis manages to pass Clark for a time, but Chase passes both and Clark just nips Lewis at the mark. Chase 3.59 p.m. Clark +35, Lewis +40, and Herbert at +1.14. By the last leg, with the wind a nice mid-slide breeze, it was a duel between Clark and Chase, while not ignoring the Canadians. Herbert, who had been gradually climbing steadily taking time from the leaders after a disastrous first leg, was let go into the shore, where he made out very well, passing his teammate. At the finish it was Chase at 4.14p.m. Clark at +51, Herbert at +l.00 and Lewis at +2.15, for a successful defence of the Challenge Cup.

The light air, while making sailing much less pleasant than it could have been, and not especially exciting for the local spectators on Sunday, made tight racing. At some point every boat led a race; in those conditions, the Canadians clearly had superior speed reaching and running, but their flatter sails seemed to hurt up wind. The Americans after some boat tuning seemed to be moving better in the light air, conditions much like those at the worlds in 87. For the race committee, racing was enlivened by betting whether powerboats would alter course to pass behind the contestant: one did! Prior to the second race a Canadian Nonsuch under charter, spotted Team Canada's flags and came over to encourage the Challengers. One had been a 14 sailor and knew both about canoes and the Cup. Beer and pizza at a local Pizza parlor was the banquet, with beer being poured from the Cup, which holds two pitchers.

Ben Fuller

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International 10 sq.m. Canoe International 10 sq.m. Canoe

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