May 20-21, Fairhope Yacht Club, Fairhope, AL
It was the first major Viper regatta since the Gulf Yachting Association selected the Viper as its new Capdevielle interclub boat (as of 2018)…and what a regatta it was. The details will follow, but the topline report is that John Dane, former Olympic Star sailor and relatively new to the Class, won the Gulf Coast Championship sailing with his regular Viper crew Dave Bolyard of Ullman Sails and young Thomas Duffy. The trio was representing Pass Christian Yacht Club in what was actually a dual event.
The racing was part of the GYA’s Opening Regatta with a total of six races sailed over the two days: the first five (with no throw outs) counting for the GYA Sportboat Championship, and all six (including a throw out) determining the Viper 640 Gulf Coast Champion.
The GYA’s Opening Regatta is its first Capdevielle event of the year—the Capdevielle was sailed among 18 Flying Scots owned by GYA clubs and sailed by a rotating team of club members. On the same circle was the 18-boat Viper fleet and five of the classic Fish Boats, the boats that preceded the Scot as the Capdevielle boat 50 years earlier. The 5-race GYA Sportboat Championship combined scores of club Viper/Scot teams.
As noted, for the Viper GCC Dane’s PCYC team won with a 4-1-2-1-(16)-3 line score for 11 points. In second was the team from St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club with Rives Allen, Nick Cumbie, and Alex Johnson sharing the helm and Ken Felis rounding out the crew. Their scores of 3-3-4-(8)-2-1 totaled 13 points, just two behind PCYC. In third was the Fairhope Yacht Club team with Kevin Northrop at the helm and FYC member and longtime Viper sailor Don Faircloth in the bow with Viper Class Administrator Buttons Padin in the middle. The FYC team’s 17 point total (including the first race) put them close…but not close enough in the 18-boat fleet.
Shift gears now to the 5-race GYA Sportboat Championship, Northrop’s Fairhope won the event by one point over SABYC and five over PCYC. The difference in podium positions between the two scores was due to Dane’s OCS start in Race 5 (which he couldn’t drop for the Sportboat Champs) and SABYC moving ahead of FYC having won the sixth race. Yes, a bit confusing, yes great sailing by many Viper sailors (new and veteran), and yes lots of fun.
Full scores for both events are below.
Stepping back from the competition itself, this regatta was major threshold that the Viper Class, the GYA, and Rondar Raceboats crossed together. Many of the GYA clubs have purchased pre-owned Vipers but eight had brand new Vipers delivered on Wednesday to Fairhope. Rondar’s Paul Young and Dan Tucker, assisted by Don Faircloth and Kip Keelin (among others), unpacked the new boats, trailed them to the Club and, joined by Buttons Padin, spent Friday before the event helping the new owners set-up and learn their new boats. For the new club owners, it was like Christmas morning as they all unwrapped their new packages. Add to the “this goes here and that goes there” aspect of this orientation, North One-Design’s Zeke Horowitz gave an informative and motivating clinic on Viper set-up, sail trim, boat handling, and other Viperism to the crowd of 50+ in attendance. Thanks to all of them because the next day’s racing was tight and harkens a successful new era of GYA interclub racing.