After several years of good fortune with wind, the 2017-18 Sarasota Viper Winter Series has had a tougher start. The December event was skunked on Saturday but managed 4 light air races on Sunday, and January’s event was a near carbon copy of December. Despite great breeze for a Brad Boston-led clinic on Friday, Saturday’s wind never materialized long enough to get in a race, and Sunday saw two races in light and tricky conditions.
In Race 1, Ken Kleinschrodt and family from Buccaneer YC in Mobile, Alabama, led nearly wire-to-wire, while Jay Rhame and Peter Beardsley found enough passing lanes in the thin puffs to go from 20th at the first mark to 2nd at the finish. Pat Gibson ended up on the right side of a 5-boat melee at the finish to place third in a scrum that would prove crucial to determining the podium spots. Race 2 was unkind to the Race 1 leaders, with ‘Merica and Great Scott! both failing to finish within the 15-minute time limit, which was accelerated after Brian Harrison found a puff on the far right down the final run to pass several boats for the race win, with Jonathan Nye’s team placing second. Gibson was close enough to the leaders to take the title by a point over Harrison once the breeze failed to fill for a third race, with Zeke Horowitz placing third overall. The top five boats were separated by only three points in the abbreviated series.
After factoring in discards, Rhame and Beardsley continue to lead the overall series standings by six points over Boston, with Horowitz three points back in third, but if the usually reliable Sarasota breezes fill for the February event, there will be a lot of points left on the board and it is anyone’s game.