Warm summer weather arrived in Sweden just in time for the racing of the World Championship of the ISAF classic class, the International One-Design, a boat originally designed and raced in the 1930s. The 33.5' 7100-pound boats are often too heavy and fragile to ship from one port to another, so the local fleet typically provides the boats for the top qualifiers from the other 11 fleets. In the case of Sweden, which last hosted the regatta in 2000, they borrowed 8 boats from Norway, so in effect, the two countries are co-hosting the regatta. The organizing club is the Stenungsund Sailing Club, on the west coast of Sweden, north of Gothenburg.
I am here with a crew from Fishers Island Yacht Club in New York,and although we qualified second for this event, our top qualifier, Charlie Van Voorhis, won the championship in San Francisco in 2008 and earned an automatic qualification. So it's our good fortune to be here, too.
The Norwegian team, skippered by Martin Rygh, led the first lap of the practice race before prematurely heading to the finish line, but they then won the first race for real. We headed prematurely to the starting line in the first race but found a way to get back into the race part way up the first leg and eventually worked our way all the way to second behind Martin. Sweden's top gun (and regatta organizer) Urban Ristorp, finished right behind us with our compatriot from Fishers, Charlie Van Voorhis.
Since the boats are borrowed, everyone in the fleet switches boats after each race, and every boat is laid out a little different, especially considering that some may be seven decades old. After our change into a 1946-vintage design that's seen a lot of good work to put her in racing shape, we were scrambling to figure out where all the lines led when suddenly the race committee began the starting sequence. We just had time to get the jib up, check the wind once, and get a sight on the position of the starting line, before heading down the line toward the end where we wanted to start. Fortunately, we were lucky and the boats around us held back a little too much and we had a great start. Part way up the leg, we tacked close on the bow of Chester, Nova Scotia's skipper, Rick Thompson, and after the second encounter, squeezed ahead and gradually pulled away.
I'm not sure why we were able to get ahead in that race but my co-skipper, Peter Rugg, trimming the mainsail, and his son Charlton, on the jib, had us moving well all the time, and boatspeed is something that every racing team needs to look smart. Jennifer on the halyards and Topher on the bow kept us out of trouble, too.
We've raced enough of these events to know that our boats may have had a something extra today and tomorrow could be another story entirely...and the chances for operator error are there at every moment. In the meantime, however, it feels good to have made a successful start of the event, which lasts until Friday and will include up to 8 races.