The inaugural Maine Maritime Academy Women’s Downeast Double-Handed Invite and Becton Cup Maine State Women’s Double-Handed Championship was held on Sunday, October 2, at MMA and sailed in Smith Cove.
Co-hosted by MMA and George Stevens Academy, the event featured gave schools a chance to compete for the MMA-sponsored New England title. It also gave Maine schools a chance to compete for both the GSA-sponsored Becton Cup and the New England title.
George Stevens Academy took home the hardware. Seniors and Co-Captains Courtney Koos (skipper) and Tess Lameyer (crew) turned in an impressive performance in winning both the New England and the Maine titles. Of the six races sailed, Koos and Lameyer won five of them and had a third-place finish in the other race for a total of eight points.
Marblehead and Falmouth both sailed very well and shadowed the GSA boat tightly, with more than a few exciting legs where the lead was changed or challenged. GSA Coach Tom Gutow noted, “I was most impressed with Tess and Courtney’s competitiveness. Though they were leading throughout most of the regatta, when challenged they fought hard to maintain or reclaim the lead.”
Sailed in heavy conditions, the regatta was both a mental and physical test for the nine participating teams.
The two teams that had to travel the longest distance did not attend, perhaps after taking a look at the weather forecast. Rain was predicted for all day and at times to be heavy, but the sailors got lucky; the rain held off until after the last race. Strong winds of 10-15 knots were predicted. The sailors got lucky again with plenty of wind, which ranged from 8mph—to gusts of 18 mph with a more-or-less steady direction from the Northwest with some occasional shifts to Northeast. The regatta’s principal race officer, Butch Minson, only had to reset the course once early in the races.
The heavy wind had the young women working hard, frequently hiking out as far as possible to try to keep the boats flat. It also created extra force pushing against the sails to make sheeting the sails harder to do.
Staying dry was not an option, even though the rain held off. Choppy rollers would break over the girls as they hiked and waves would wash into the boats when they heeled over, creating more time and energy spent bailing to keep the boats light. In spite of the wind, there was only one brief tip-over when a gust caught a boat as it rounded the leeward mark, a testament to the quality of sailing on display.
The first two races of the set were sailed in a triangle course. This three-legged course set up a hard windward beat, with a fast reach and potentially troublesome downwind. Lameyer and Koos seemed to relish the setup, wining both races easily to set the stage for the day. The next two races before the late lunch break were a modified triangle, windward leeward.
These longer five-legged races showed the determination of all the sailors as the longer distance gave teams a chance to make up for mistakes or a bad start, and they let everyone show their skills or catch a lucky break on a wind shift.
The sailors got a chance to relax by going to shore for a lunch break. Not really much of a break, though, because the girls ate their prepared box lunches while in the launch, and quickly got some comfort by changing into dryer clothes. The challenge was to keep or regain their focus for the final races.
After checking the time, Minson, the principal race officer, decided to run one triangle and one modified triangle, windward leeward, to complete the racing for the day.
GSA’s sailors did not get the kind of start for this race as they had in the others. Having started every other race either first or second, they had to bail out on their fifth start as they anticipated that they would be called over the line at the start. They rolled off the starting line at the last second but quickly regrouped and headed up.
Showing some impressive skill and determination, Koos and Lameyer caught the Falmouth boat on the reach and passed it, only to become engaged in an overlap battle at the mark.
In the tightest finish of all the races, GSA was third after making up one boat upwind. Three points separated the first- and second- place boats at the end of that race. GSA’s boat won the regatta after it got an excellent start in the sixth race. Falmouth did not, and fell to the middle of the pack in the final race for a sixteen-point total. Marblehead finished third overall with 21 points and Southern Maine grabbed the third spot in the Becton Cup portion with 22 points.