October 26, 2017
Sailboat racing is hard. Anyone who is a sailboat racer will agree with that comment 110%. OK, but running a major regatta—like the 2017 Beacon Group Viper 640 North American Championship AND sailing in it, is even harder. Being an event chair for the largest regatta in your class’s history and pulling out a great race in tough conditions is a monumental event. And that’s what Craig and Deb Wilusz from the host Ft. Walton (FL) Yacht Club did in the only race that was run on Day Two of the event. Sailing together, the Wilusz team, sailing with Canadian Paul Currie, put themselves ahead of almost all the competitors in a race that can be described as light, shifty, current affected, puffy, challenging, trying, and a lot of fun, placing fifth in the 54-boat fleet.
When asked about today’s “moral victory,” Craig’s commented, “ All I did was look at the telltales. Deb and Paul got us around the racecourse. As for the event, it looks like everyone’s having a really good time and it’s beautiful October Florida weather. I’m looking forward to the next two days.”
Thursday began with a 2-hour shore postponement due to lack of wind, followed by an additional postponement on the water waiting for the wind to fill and settle. This was a decidedly different situation than the Vipers faced yesterday during Day One of the Championship. With breezes from the northwest averaging from 12-15 knots with puffs to 20, the fleet was treated to four races in exceptional sailing conditions. Flat water, breeze, challenging shifts, great competition, and tremendous fun on (and later) off the water. Coming out of Day One in the lead was Marcus Eagan from Mississippi’s Bay Waveland Yacht Club. Sailing with his brother Andrew and Jackson Benvenutti, Eagan’s scoreline was 2-1-1-17(zfp) to take a slim lead over last year’s NAs and World Champion Zeke Horowitz (Annapolis, MD, sailing with Ian Coleman and Luke Lawrence) and five-time NAs champ Brad Boston (Sarnia, ON, sailing with Lee Shuckerow and Dave Shriner) in third.
Marcus, a world champion in multiple classes, was sailing a Viper for only his third time. His take on Day One was, “It was absolutely a glam day. Beautiful breeze, flat water, and very shifty. There is no other place I’d rather be sailing right now than here. Today, on the other hand, was incredibly frustrating to find where the breeze was going to fill in. As for sailing a Viper, I totally love it. It’s a great true-person 3-4 person boat to race. Creates tremendous flexibility in the boat, it’s very responsive and a lot of fun.”
Day Two turned the fleet around at the top. Henry Amthor (Hampton, VA, sailing with Neal Fowler and Russell Miller) took the race and Tom Loutrel (Charleston, SC, sailing with John Bowden and Karl Schutte) moved to the header of the leader board with a second today following a 1-4-3-25 the previous day. Horowitz held onto second and Eagan dropped to third.
Day Three is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, and the forecast is for another sunny day of sailing with northwesterly breezes in the low teens. Another great day of Vipering at another great Viper event.