Winds challenge sailors as Central Okanagan Sailing Association hosts North American event
The 2014 Hobie 18 Women’s and Hobie 16 Trapseat North American Championships were held at the Central Okanagan Sailing Association (COSA) over the past weekend, and as expected, COSA sailors made the podium in both fleets.
The Hobie 18 event was won by Chris Bradshaw and Serentity Taha of Kansas, who earned several first place finishes over the three day event. Gillian Thomson and Ruth Branscombe of COSA were a close second and remained the best finishers in the class for Canada. The battle for third place was intense, with a tie going into the third day between Kelly Havig and Valerie Pioszak of Oregon, and Bryana Van Leuuwen of Ontario and her sailing partner Heather Halperin of Kelowna.
Van Leeuwen and Halperin, who are both sailing and race coaches at COSA, struggled in the heavy winds on the final day of racing to earn fourth place in the class, behind Havig and Pioszak. The fourth place finish of Van Leeuwen and Halperin was made even more impressive as their boat de-masted during the first day of racing. Other notable finishes were COSA coaches Brishen Holmes-Slattery and Zoe Roberts in 9th, and COSA coach Elizabeth Hardy with Tawnya-Dhaun Fox of Vancouver taking 7th.
The Hobie 16 Trapseat, which is sailed by a disabled skipper and an able bodied crew, was won by Paralympain Danny McCoy and his COSA crew Larry Robinson. McCoy barely edged out another Paralympian, Ken Kelly, who was sailing with current COSA President Alan Wright. Third place was claimed by Americans Bob Jones from Washington, and Bob Johnson of Texas.
The huge range of weather conditions experienced over the three day event made setting courses challenging for Race Officers, Ron Rubadeau and Steve Brunsden. Winds gusted to over 25 knots at various times during the event, while sudden wind shifts made setting and sailing courses difficult. Varying weather conditions also made sailing more interesting, as crews had to demonstrate skills in both light and heavy winds.
The third and final day of sailing was the most dramatic, with heavy winds throughout the day.
A capsize in the fourth race by 9th place finishers Holmes-Slattery and Roberts cost the team several positions in the overall standings, while the Thomson/Branscombe team traded 1st and 2nd place finishes with overall winners Bradshaw/Taha.