"New boats, chop sink sailors"

"The Bainbridge Sailing Club, Northwest District champions, finished last among 12 teams in the Interscholastic National Team Racing Championships at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass., during Memorial Day weekend.According to co-coach Susie Kaseler, who traveled with the team, competition was fierce on Saturday's first day as each team sailed 11 races in a round-robin 66-race format. The race organization was remarkable with 24 boats in four fleets of six each racing on a single trapezoid course. Bainbridge finished 0-11 after the prelims.We were expecting to do better, said team co-captain Daniel Roche. We were a little surprised at how strong the competition was. But we had a lot of close finishes, where we might lose by a point, rather than always finishing 4-5-6.The teams came back Sunday divided into three brackets. Bainbridge was in the bronze bracket with Loyola (IL), Portsmouth Abbey (R.I.), and St. Petersburg (Fla.). After losing its first two races - against Portsmouth Abbey the team had a 1,4,5 edge until the final moments which dropped the No. 1 boat back to second for a one-point loss - Bainbridge won its final race against Loyola by finishing 1,4,5 in a reversal of the outcome of the previous race.It was a very close race, said Kaseler. Our No. 1 boat moved from second to first in the last 10 seconds.Coronado H.S. was the national champion with a 13-4 record followed by University High School of San Diego with a 12-5 record.I'm not making excuses, Kaseler said. Our kids are very good at team racing. But we had very little time to train in these boats.The team was accustomed to racing in Lasers and Vanguards, which are flat-bottomed planing boats. But at Nationals they competed in 420s.Even though they're also planing boats, they have rounder bottoms and sail best with lighter crews, Kaseler said. Apart from four days with the UW team, we weren't used to sailing in them.Team racing is a test of boat-handling skills. It's a lot like chess, in that it's very tactical. To use team race tactics, you need to come off the line in first or second. If not, then you need to have better boat speed. But we couldn't get the boat speed we needed in boats we weren't familiar with.Roche cited another factor. What killed us was the chop, he said. We don't get any of that in Eagle Harbor. Most of our best races were in the morning before the wind began rising.In addition, the team departed from Sea-Tac airport at 1:15 on Friday morning, arrived at noon that day, then was on the water practicing at 4:00 that afternoon.The team that competed at Nationals consisted of Pat Taylor, Matt Upton, Kelly Norton, Kellen Bailey, Dan Roche, Brittain Mason and Emily Bruns. Six other team members - John Merkel, David Grace, Stuart Stringer, Makai Magnuson, Josh Johnson, and Ernest Bizzell - didn't make the trip, but were a big factor in the team's success, said Kaseler. We were able to have very competitive practices all season with the depth of our team. The seven kids who went to Tabor appreciated that fact. "

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