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2012 Inshore Series Preview

May 24, 2012

After the first to offshore legs of the Atlantic Cup and some incredibly close racing, we have come to the inshore weekend.  The top three boats as of today are #115 Mare (6 pts), #118 Bodacious Dream (8 pts) and #101 Campagne de France (10pts).  These three have a 10 point cushion on 4th, but given the nature of the inshore series, it’s not an insurmountable lead.

The format for the weekend consists of 5 races scheduled with one throwout (assuming they get 5 races in).  Having a throwout is important as it is almost inevitable that with this competitive a fleet, every boat is going to have a tough race.  The key to the series is to not have two bad races as with 14 boats, points can add up quick!

The course configuration is inside of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay and will consist of relatively short coastal races using government marks with fairly short legs and multiple mark roundings.  A premium will be placed on boat handling as the teams are moving from double handed to 6 person “fully crewed” teams.  Additionally, the race course has an enormous amount of tidal influence and how the teams balance the different current “streams” will be crucial to their results.

Most teams have enlisted the help of a local Newporter to help paint a clear picture, but from the lead group, Bodacious Dream hailing from Jamestown might have an advantage on the rest of the top three (although Mare is sailing with Phil “The Guru” Garland who was tactician on the winning boat last year). Based on how close the previous two legs have been, it’s hard to say there is a clear cut favorite.  The forecast for the weekend is for a relatively weak sea breeze (10 kts) so that will put a premium on current knowledge and starting as having the ability to get to the current relief first could decide things at the first mark.

Lastly, given the box rule nature of the class, each boat has a different type of deck layout and hardware positioning.  Most boats have been optimized to be as ergonomically efficient as possible while sailing alone on deck offshore.  As a result, winches, clutches, blocks, etc are generally all packed in close to the helm position.  On some boats there is extensive coming around the cockpit to protect the crew in big seas and keep things relatively dry.  However, when sailing with 6 people inshore some of the newer boats might have trouble with maneuvers as the “too many cooks in the kitchen” rule may be in force.  Boats such as Bodacious Dream, Icarus, Initiatives and Dragon all have reasonable spacious cockpits and areas for the crew to spread out, while boats such as Mare have very tightly packed cockpits.

I expect that the racing will be very close and that during each maneuver and mark rounding the boats will be fighting for the very last inch and a small hesitation or mix up in crew work might be the ultimate deciding factor for the entire series.  I just hope the teams remember to rig a second tack line and practice some gybe peels this week…

Looking forward to the weekend and if you happen to be in town pop by Fort Adams to watch the racing, stop by the Newport Shipyard to check out the fleet and all the vendors in the tent or head out on the water to watch the action!

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