Ft. Walton Yacht Club, Ft. Walton, FL
October 27, 2017
After three days of close, competitive racing, Charleston, SC, sailors Tom Loutrel, John Bowden and Karl Schutte held a fragile eight point lead in the fifty-four boat fleet having finished in the top four for all except one of the preceding nine races. The top four boats at that point were separated by only 13 points in a fleet that kept turning itself inside out. Loutrel held the lead throughout the first three days and credited his success to having stayed in the pressure and in phase as the winds had osculated unpredictably.
Going into Saturday’s final two races, only 13 points separated the top four teams: Loutrel; Marcus Eagan in second, sailing for Mississippi’s Bay Waveland Yacht Club with his brother Andrew and Jackson Benvenutti; Brad Boston from Sarnia, ON, sailing with Lee Shuckerow and Dave Shriner; and last year’s Viper Worlds and NAs Champ Zeke Horowitz from Annapolis, MD, sailing with Ian Coleman and Luke Lawrence. It was anyone’s Championship to win.
Loutrel’s winning ways began to fade as he finished ninth in the penultimate race. Horowitz won that race with Boston third and Eagan fourth narrowing the gap between the top four to ten points. With the winds shifting to the southwest and increasing to the high teens, a general recall was signaled for the first attempt to start the final race. Loutrel was over early with the Z Flag flying earning him a penalty that would cost him the Championship. Horowitz had also won the final race, but he was still one point over Loutrel keeping Zeke and team off this year’s podium. Boston scored another third moving him ahead of Loutrel but it was Eagan’s fourth place finish that earned him the Championship in the final race.
Eagan noted, “What a great regatta and we’re thrilled to have won. I really like sailing the Viper 640. It has great tuning capabilities and is physical enough to know you’re really sailing. And the competition in this Championship was excellent with great event management, stellar conditions, and wonderful people to compete against. I look forward to doing more Viper racing.”
For video highlights of the championship by Petey Crawford of Penalty Box Productions visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Viper640NorthAmericanChampionships