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2014 US Sailing Sears Cup Finals - Junior Three-handed Championship

Posted by on November 02, 2014

A recap of an incredible week at Grand Traverse YC by Bob Sagan, Interlake Fleet Chairman, Interlake #1411

The Sears Cup Finals were held at Grand Traverse YC in partnership with Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS) Aug 5-8th on West Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City, Michigan.To sum up the event: GRAND SLAM. The Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, 2 strikes against, down by 3 with bases loaded, at home, World Series, game 7 type of electricity was felt by the whole club. Not nerves. The homework was done. Yet all the preparation added to the anticipation, that and the fact that two symbiotic organizations really cared.

I’m sure you will understand the pending excitement and gratification as you read.

The CHUBB US Sailing Sears/Bemis/Smythe Championships (triple, double, single handed) was sailed in Interlakes (11), club 420s (20) and Open Bics (20). 96 competitors in all. These kids came from both Coasts, Florida, Texas, Midwest, Hawaii and more. GTYC & TACS did more than host the competition but the entire event. The responsibilities included guest housing for each kid, feeding them, shuttling to airport, VIP viewing & party, media and so much more.

There were no problems. Even the weather cooperated; Sunny and 80 each day with mostly good winds. Morning sailing didn’t

work, but the afternoon sea-breeze was dependable. The first race of most days started with 6 knots from the N and often gradually built to gentle white caps. The light air teams in the Bics & 420s loved this, while in Interlakes showed that smarts and good boat handling were far more important than team weight.

The lead in to this event started three years ago, when GTYC/TACS hosted the Area K qualifiers for SEARS/Bemis/Smythe. The event was flawless. The Area K coaches and US Sailing were impressed by the venue, race management and the Interlake. The coaches commented on how perfect the Interlake is for this type of event. The kids also enjoyed the boat and many stated that they were “…glad we’re not in the 420s in this light air. The Interlake was fun to sail.” The seed was planted.

In summer of 2013 GTYC/TACS had good reason to believe US Sailing would bring the FINALS to TC if a good bid was organized. Key to this event was pulling together a front line fleet of Interlakes. 420s and Bics were easy, they were supplied. They all arrived in (2) semis, with a crew to unload and rig. However, the Interlakes had to be done in a grassroots method. In other words, true Interlake form.

Boats came from GTYC, the Hamlin Lake Interlakers, Skip Dieball and our ISCA Grant Boat.

Thanks to Jim Clark and Terry Kilpatrick who helped reduce my tour around Michigan gathering/delivering the fleet.

Part of our winning bid was the inclusion that our builder, Terry Kilpatrick, would be on hand to assist as needed. US Sailing mentioned more than once how impressive that was!

Dieball Sailing supported the event in two ways. First, there was a great price on sails to those owners whose boats were donated to the event. The owners supported this idea and the entire fleet had crispy Dieball Sails that where one year or newer. In fact, the spinnakers were all identical and build specifically for this event! Second, Skip came up to TC to help me tune the boats and then give the kids an orientation to sailing an Interlake. The juniors were focused and asked great questions. Top shelf stuff!

After Skip’s words of wisdom the kids went sailing. Skip and I jumped in different chase boats for some on the water coaching. A couple practice starts later and it was time to get it on.

The racing was close, even by Interlake standards.

The roar from the collective RC fleet came twice. Once after the first start and another as the tight fleet set the event spinnakers with the event logo on them (GTYC & TACS burgees). A truly picturesque sight.

The wind built to 14-15 with two footers. The top half the fleet surfed well and none of the teams wanted the day to end. “Is it always like this here?!” kids asked. “Often. And the forecast looks favorable.” Day one was the best, but day 2 was nearly as nice and no day was bad…as long as you would wait for it.

Interlake courses were 4 leg W/L with offset and leeward gate with legs averaging .75-.8 miles long. The 420s & Bics shared a modern trapezoid course on another part of the bay.

Day three, Thursday, saw a big postponement on shore. No breeze. This gave extra time for group coaching. An integral part of this event was learning, especially for the Interlake fleet. Each morning started with gathering the competitors on shore to talk about the previous day, what was expected that day, plus techniques/tips that would be helpful and Q/A time. Myself and Area K Chairman Cappy ran these sessions. The young sailors were sponges as they soaked everything up. You could really see them experimenting as they tried to apply the words they heard each day.

Even still (on day three) ... no wind. Good thing there were slack-lines and trees handy. Heck, there was even a slack-line put between docks. Add in corn-hole, Frisbee and lots of swimming too, as the young visitors couldn’t believe this much freshwater that was also clean enough to drink. They were astonished.

You might think, “Teenagers + downtime = trouble” and generally you’d be right. But these kids were all excellent ambassadors of our sport, their clubs, their families and their generation. They were responsible, respectful, and genuinely appreciative. I heard constant Thank You’s and they were very conscientious about putting the borrowed Interlakes away properly and reported any equipment they thought questionable. I saw great promise in our nation’s future in these youth.

The kid’s diligence was so good that when combined with Terry’s assistant (and that of his ground crew Dick and Tom) that each boat was returned in as good OR BETTER shape than it was lent!

When the breeze filled in, it filled in fast and solid. Two races in 8-10 knots.

The last day had an on the water postponement and the juniors showed us all a thing or two about how to get comfortable on an Interlake. We all learned from these experts!

US Sailing’s Liz Walker made a specific point to applaud the Interlake Class. She stated that the fleet was even. No dog boats and minimal breakdowns (nothing that couldn’t be fixed by yours truly on the water or replaced by Terry overnight) and having builder support plus Skip Dieball was a major coo. Liz also

commentary on how great the Interlake fit this event and this venue. The US Sailing contingent gave a rousing ovation to the volunteer war party and organizers. In fact the rumor is that US Sailing was so impressed by the race management and the Interlake Class support that they might well ask GTYC to host the Championship of Champions in the next couple of years!

The GTYC Interlake fleet was as key to this success as any sub group. Bob Cornwell and Jim Menzies worked throughout the winter on the committee that organized the entire event. Liz Conrad was the Treasurer and so much more. Alynn Kay Cornwell was co-chairperson of housing all 96 visitors. Louie & Lisa Rodriguez plus Jim Menzies did mark boat duty each day with Bob Cornwell pitching in. Dick Hiertreiter followed Terry Kilpatrick’s instructions on boat maintenance. It was a highly functioning group to be surrounded by. I ended each long day whupped but feeling good about what was accomplished and the way the team accomplished it.

Also, Kudos to our Interlake Board and Portage YC for adjusting the 2014 Nationals schedule to accommodate the timing of this event.

The ISCA can join the GTYC & TACS in having much to be proud of.

We in TC are ready to carry the momentum into 2015 Interlake Nationals. We hope you can join us.

For even more pics of the event and West Grand Traverse Bay visit:

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