CHINOOK and CLUB CAR come up winners after tumultuous winds greet Wales Cup fleet

Skipper Paul Duffy on DOMINO holding off Club car on the first leg. CLUB CAR won in Class B HARWICH PORT – (9/14/07) Timing can be everything, and for the fleet at the 2007 Wales Cup on Saturday, a predictable small craft warning became a test of seamanship early in the race. Race Committee chairman and participant Tom Leach made the decision to postpone the start until 1 PM in order to assess the impending weather forecast which called for a rain and clearing with building winds and eventual gusts to 20 kts. Nothing unusual for late summer weather and almost an expectation for this race that has been running for 29 years and named after Richard T. Wales considered the founder of manmade Saquatucket Harbor.

Signals from the Allen Harbor Yacht Club race committee boat AURIGA manned by John Reynders and Joe McParland indicated a 10 mile course around government marks with a downwind start to the Common Flat buoy N ‘2’, just shy of two miles away. As 12 boats jockeyed for the start, Bill Marsh the owner of RUSE, a Swan 44 from Stage Harbor, shook off assistance after being clipped on the top of the head by its boom during an errant jibe. Twelve starters which included four catboats headed off on a nice slay ride and tight initial rounding between RUSE, Neil Tomkinson in CHINOOK (Sabre 34), Paul Duffy in DOMINO (C&C 33), Barry Bessette in CLUB CAR (S2 – 7.9), Peter Soule in SAYLAVEE (Beneteau 31) and Drew Meincke in KESTREL (Avance 24.5) then the balance of the fleet. As the leaders tacked back toward the starting line and were nearing the next mark a front moved across the course spiking the winds more than 40 kts and forcing the teams to shorten sail and many abandon the event which was only one hour old. Many of the boats were faced with the decision to quit rather than continue.

Single hander Dr. Jonathan Woods prepares ELSIE before a blustery afternoon Wales Cup. Doc did not want the race shortened.The catboats CAIT’S CAT (Rick Farenkopf), ZEPHYR (Bob Chase), MARMALADE (Ian McColgin), and ELSIE (Jonathan Wood) being downwind were next to feel the force of the wind and began shortening sail, however, as attempts to keep racing proved fruitless they abandoned and came in under power. A Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel out of Saquatucket Harbor on routine patrol dispatched to make sure everyone made it to the Port safely.

In the end, four boats battled it out for spots on the podium in two classes. Tomkinson’s CHINOOK took overall honors with a corrected finish time of 1:14:54, RUSE was second in Class A and third overall on correction at 1:21:02 being beaten by CLUB CAR which was first in Class B with a corrected time of 1:20:47. KESTREL hung in there to take the second place prize in Class B with a corrected time of 1:31:19. Afterward awards ceremony took place out AHYC with all winners receiving lightship baskets as trophies. The catboat participants who survived the 2004 Wales Cup blow (Bob Chase, Rick Farrenkopf and Paul Cook) were honored with a handsome framed photo showing the fishing fleet catboats in Wychmere Channel in 1905. Weather sources from the wind test tower at Horseshoe Shoal show a wind spike gusting to 50 mph out of the N-NW at 2:20 pm during the day. The front lasted twenty-five minutes.Weather log from the day of the race showing 50 mph wind spike at one hour into the race