|Event Date||Saturday, June 4th|
June 4, 2016
Surf City Yacht Club
Surf City, NJ
The world’s oldest Laser trophy regatta, Surf City’s venerable Jack Elfman Orange Coffee Pot, got a nice turnout of 28 boats for its 45th running including visitors from Connecticut and New York. The weather certainly helped, as competitors were treated to sunny skies, temps in the mid-70s and a moderate seabreeze that allowed for seven races.
This year’s fleet featured a lot of young talent, and youth was certainly served with the under-21 crowd taking three of the first four places in the 24-boat full-rig fleet and high-school junior Carrson Pearce of Surf City YC dominating the four-boat Radial fleet. What was striking is that in most races a couple of Radials rounded the first mark in the top ten and then stayed there for the duration of a twice-around, windward-leeward course. With the weather mark tucked close to the Surf City shore, making for big shifts and lots of holes, being in the right spot was definitely more important than having a big sail. And those Radial guys were going plenty fast, too.
The first race took a while to get off, as a 6-8 knot southerly gradually shifted left to the southeast seabreeze direction and stabilized. The fleet went through a general recall and an abandonment before the wind and the fleet settled down. The first race got off in a solid 10 knots and a couple old guys named Dickson and Hahl punched out middle right and led at the first mark. They were soon passed downwind in a big easterly puff by Carrson’s brother, Carrter, and the relative graybeard Matt Goetting, a 30-something from Toms River YC who was part of last year’s E-Scow national championship team. Goetting sailed a strong second lap to take the win over Pearce, with another junior, Leo Boucher of Severn Sailing Association, placing third.
While the sun stayed out, the southerly breeze never really built and veered through the afternoon like a typical early-season New Jersey seabreeze. Instead, it stayed pretty much in the same mean direction and topped out at perhaps 12 knots. So the rest of the day saw a tricky tactical balance between playing the fairly reliable geographic shift off the left-hand shore against what was often steadier pressure in the middle and right side of the course, along with a rare big southwesterly puff or two. And of course, there was the “cone drill” on the shifty last 100 yards to the first mark.
Boucher took the next race ahead of Carrter Pearce and Goetting before Andrew Puopolo of Marsh Creek Sailing Club got on a roll, winning the next four races. Puopolo, who was top 10 in the Laser Nationals last year and just finished his freshman year sailing for Harvard, was consistently in the top group halfway up the first beat and showed excellent speed around the course. But because he started slow, with a seventh and a fifth, he was only a couple points ahead of Goetting and Pearce going into the last race with Boucher also within striking distance.
While in trouble early in the last race, a three-legger, Puopolo came back strong downwind and picked off a couple boats on the last beat to take third and win the Coffee Pot by a point over Goetting, who placed second in the race. Boucher posted his second win of the series to move up to third, while Pearce sailed a drop to place fourth overall and first junior. Mike Russom of Brant Beach Yacht Club (who is still kind of young) rounded out the top 5. Had Brick placed 9th overall to win the 50-plus Master category, while Rachel Bennung of TRYC was first woman in 22nd.
Surf City’s large group of volunteers, headed by regatta chairman Rich Warren, did their usual masterful job of putting on a fun event. In addition to square courses and fair starting lines, they provided breakfast, ample snacks and water on the course, and a great post-race spread of food and beverages. Warren, who was running the Coffee Pot for the first time, gave a special note of thanks to “chairman emeritus” Newt Wattis for his many years of organizing and promoting the event. Wattis also sailed in the full-rig fleet, placing a very credible 14th, and pledged to be back next year. Hopefully even more D10 sailors will be there to join him for the 46th Coffee Pot. ——Glen Dickson
Andrew Puopolo 12 pts
Matt Goetting 13 pts
Leo Boucher 15 pts
Carrter Pearce 16 pts
Mike Russom 32 pts