The Third Day of the 100 boat Etchells worlds in Newport, RI dawned hot and steamy. PRO Tom Duggan was facing a difficult call on how long to keep the fleet a shore in a dying southerly that was forecast to come in hard from the North East.
The fleet was finally released at 1230 and rendezvous outside at Red Bell 2 occurred at approximately 2pm. It was clear that the 'change' was coming - the clouds told that story, but the timing and velocity of that change were more of a challenge.
By 4pm, things started to happen. The breeze went ENE with a bang and all the layers of clothing, the rig adjustments, the heavy jibs, appeared to be great choices.
Competitors by this point were like coiled springs waiting for action and a line that looked even at 6 minutes, quickly became heavily pin favored by 4 minutes with very strong left pressure up the course. 100 boats trying to start in the same small patch of water in the pin half of the line meant the oxygen masks were liberally deployed.
Off the line, several boats managed to tack and cross the fleet, while others started on port and some were able to tack immediately...then is started to rain and rain hard.
Up the beat the guys that got right were rewarded with a hole that allowed the left boats to use that left pressure. It was difficult to see much though as the rain was intense. The heavy chop on top of the ocean swell made steering almost impossible as the pressure dropped out. A steady right shift in the top half of the beat allowed the boats right to consolidate their position.
Aussies Chris Hampton, Ian Walker and Matt Johns led the fleet around the weather mark comfortably and then the crush began as boats stacked up on the starboard lay line with current proving to be quite unfriendly to those teams trying to set up skinny to get around.
With visibility down to 3/4mile and a 2.75 mile 4 lap race, it was difficult to know where the leeward marks were. Many boats gybed without realizing the new shift was such a big upwind leftie, that we were pretty much sailing right back down the rhumb line on starboard gybe.
This reshuffled the pack and it was now Senet Bischoff, Ben Kinney and Clay Bischoff leading back upwind, with Robert Elliott, Stuart Childerly and Sam Richmond in second and Michael Gavin, Bill Abbott and Paul Davis in third.
With the course shortened and skewed left looking toward the finish, the leaders gybed early and the fleet followed in a parade of sail to the finish.
Bischoff took the win, Elliott in second, Gavin third.
Of the overnight leaders, Lammens recovered to 16, new leader Hardesty was 4th and Beckmann was 15. This puts Hardesty into the lead with 4 races to go, with 29 points, followed by Lammens on 38 and Beckmann on 42. These three boats have a jump on John Bertrand in 4th on 74 points.