01 Sep Potts Wins Only Grade 2 in the World Since COVID
Oakcliff hosted the only scheduled Grade 2 to be sailed in the U.S. since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in March. The event, which had a double round robin of seven teams before knockouts, was won by Pearson Potts and his team, The Guardians of the Monohull (23rd in the world). Long-time Oakcliff match racer Chris Poole and his crew, including Oakcliff’s Cat Chimney, came in second, while newcomer Ruari Finnegan came third. Read the full results here: https://theclubspot.com/regatta/6oFuCu4z7b/results
Oakcliff has come as close to the Grade 2 requirements as possible taking into account the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Despite travel restrictions, the event had two international skippers: Oakcliff staff member Andres Guerra representing Spain and Ruari Finnegan representing Ireland. There was also a wide breadth of talent, with 37 skipper points from the last posted rankings. Six of those points belonged to Doug Shannon (4 points) and Jim McNally (2 points) who both got their match racing start at Oakcliff and whose participation in this regatta helped qualify it for a Grade 2.
“We came into it just trying to figure out the boat, there’s a big learning curve but it was very fun,” said Ruari Finnegan. “We work together really well, so it was mostly just talking to each other and figuring out what to do.”
Racers encountered all conditions over the three days, from light winds on Friday to the remnants of Hurricane Laura on Sunday that brought breeze in the high teens gusting 25. “We felt better and better throughout the weekend,” said Lucas Adams, Pearson Potts’ main trimmer. “Big breeze comes down to crew work a lot of the time.”
Racing came down to the wire during the first-to-three finals as Poole and Potts battled it out for first place. Both skippers earned two points, meaning the winner was decided by the fifth and final match. The two teams were neck-and-neck until the leeward gate rounding where Potts luffed Poole up and forced him to tack off to the unfavored side of the course. When they converged near the weather mark, Potts had the lead and held it until the finish line.
“Pearson loves to take opportunities in the moment and it paid off [at the leeward gate rounding]” said Adams. “Our crew work was superb so we were confident going into tough tactical situations knowing we had a good chance of coming out on top after the chaos and that’s what happened in our final match with Poole.”
Oakcliff would like to give a huge shoutout to all of the volunteers who make events like this possible: TJ Shea, Patrice Rachlin, Todd Field, Larry Kennedy, Roger Baker, George Ellis, Priscilla Constants, Ron Stattle, John Pratt, Steven Wolff, Eric Johnson, and Mike Quaglio.
The Oakcliff team is also committed to training more people on and off the water as race officials. Oakcliff’s Race Program Director, Patrick Burks, has spearheaded some virtual learning resources for those who can’t make it on the water this season. If you are interested in getting involved, email Regatta@OakcliffSailing.org.
Oakcliff will continue to host match race regattas this season with their COVID Safe Boating Protocol (as featured in Newsday). We have been able to host high-level events while keeping safety a priority.
There are two more Grade 5s and the annual Grade 3 Halloween Invitational. We are still accepting requests for invitation for all events. You can request an invitation here: https://www.oakcliffsailing.org/regattas/.
View drone footage of the racing on Oakcliff’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Oakcliffsail