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-   -   A Hard-Fought Optimist Nationals (http://www.sailnet.com/forums/racing-articles/20693-hard-fought-optimist-nationals.html)

Doran Cushing 08-13-2000 08:00 PM

A Hard-Fought Optimist Nationals
 
<HTML><!-- eWebEditPro 1.8.0.2 --><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8>&nbsp;</TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=222><IMG height=202 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_dc_optnat9.jpg" width=222><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>Leigh Kempton, the overall winner, checks the course before the start.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><P><FONT size=3>Leigh&nbsp;Kempton of Island Heights, NJ, must have a guardian angel.&nbsp;&nbsp;After 12 challenging races sailed in difficult conditions on Pensacola Bay, the 14-year-old won the Optimist National Championships by what has to be one of the closest tie-breakers in the event’s history.&nbsp;&nbsp;Kempton and her friend and training partner Todd Hawkins—both members of the Toms River Yacht Club and both sailing in the oldest age group Blue Fleet—were tied with 32 points each when the four-day series concluded.&nbsp;&nbsp;Based on her four wins in the series,&nbsp;Kempton was awarded the overall title over Hawkins, who only had three victories.&nbsp;&nbsp;Despite dropping to second, Hawkins still held a healthy 13-point margin over third-place—former champion Pat Curran, who was also representing the Toms River YC.</FONT></P><P><FONT size=3>Given the battle among the two young friends at the top of the fleet,&nbsp;Kempton's mom had mixed emotions about her daughter's success at the regatta. "It's bittersweet," said Ann Kempton.&nbsp;&nbsp;"They both deserved to win."&nbsp;&nbsp;The young Kempton, along with the other top-three finishers, had just returned from the Optimist World Championships in Spain where she had placed third among the girls and 32nd overall.&nbsp;&nbsp;Mitch Hall, a sailor from Florida’s Clearwater Yacht Club who finished first in the Red Fleet and fourth overall here, was the top US finisher at the Worlds, taking the 15th spot overall.&nbsp;&nbsp;In that event,&nbsp;Curran had finished 29th.</FONT></P><P><!--- RIGHT ALIGN IMAGE-- CAPTION ---></P><FONT size=3><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top align=middle width=412><IMG height=242 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_dc_optnat2.jpg" width=412><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>Sean&nbsp;Tullenti (8727) leads a pack of&nbsp;Optis at the windward mark as the breeze picks up during the final day of racing.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><P><FONT size=3></FONT></FONT><FONT size=3></FONT>&nbsp;</P><P><FONT size=3>The US Optimist Nationals were hosted by Pensacola Yacht Club with support from several Gulf Yachting Association clubs. The format called for two days of racing, a lay day, and then two more racing days, with all racing taking place after noon to take advantage of the likelihood of better breezes.&nbsp;&nbsp;With 180 sailors competing in Blue, Red, and White fleets, the youths were split into four divisions based on the luck of the draw, but modified by race officials to keep the top kids in different divisions.</FONT></P><P><FONT size=3><FONT size=3><!--- SIDEBAR ---><P></FONT><!--- SIDEBAR ---><P><!--- SIDEBAR ---><P><TABLE align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8></TD><TD></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Kempton&nbsp;opened the final day of competition with a three-point lead over Hawkins and the divisional rotation put them together for the first start of the day.&nbsp;&nbsp;A significant points advantage at the end of that contest would be hard to overcome for either of them in the closing race as both would be sailing in separate starts for the final race.&nbsp;&nbsp;Hawkins had a disastrous start—he was over the line early and had to restart after rounding the committee boat in very light winds.&nbsp;&nbsp;Meanwhile,&nbsp;Kempton pulled off a clean start and she was among the leaders when the race was abandoned due to the light winds—a major break for Hawkins.</FONT></P><P><!--- RIGHT ALIGN IMAGE-- CAPTION ---><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8><FONT size=3>&nbsp;</FONT></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=222><IMG height=202 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_dc_optnat3.jpg" width=222><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>The Pensacola Yacht Club used every area, even the seawalls, to handle the launching of more than 200&nbsp;Optis each day.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8><FONT size=3>&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><FONT size=3>After a short postponement, the course was shifted to the west for the new, building breeze, and&nbsp;Kempton and Hawkins restarted, with both sailors getting off the line clean.&nbsp;&nbsp;At the windward mark, neither of these two regatta leaders was in the top 10, but Hawkins led&nbsp;Kempton by six places.&nbsp;&nbsp;By the time they rounded the jibe mark and headed to the upwind finish,&nbsp;Kempton was less than a&nbsp;boatlength behind Hawkins as both sailors moved into the top 10.&nbsp;&nbsp;Kempton followed Hawkins for the first third of the final leg before splitting off.&nbsp;&nbsp;She eventually finished seventh, three places behind Hawkins.&nbsp;&nbsp;With one race remaining, the Toms River teammates were tied at 28 points each.</FONT></P><P><FONT size=3>In the final race, sailing in separate fleets and controlling their own destiny, both Hawkins and&nbsp;Kempton finished fourth in the light air and the championship would come down to a tie-break situation.&nbsp;&nbsp;The sailing instructions called for the winner to be decided by the number of firsts posted by each sailor.&nbsp;&nbsp;Kempton had opened the regatta with three bullets and added another in<BR>the closing race on Day Three—and that was ultimately the decisive factor.</FONT></P><P><!--- RIGHT ALIGN IMAGE-- CAPTION ---><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8><FONT size=3>&nbsp;</FONT></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=222><IMG height=202 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_dc_optnat11.jpg" width=222><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>So close, yet so far—runner-up Todd Hawkins (9543) nears the jibe mark.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8><FONT size=3>&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><FONT size=3>How close were these two youths?&nbsp;&nbsp;If&nbsp;Kempton had not won the tie-breaker on the number of firsts, Hawkins would have won overall honors because he had more fourth-place finishes. (Both he and&nbsp;Kempton had an equal number of second and third-place finishes.)&nbsp;&nbsp;It must have been a tough situation for Hawkins to swallow as he had beaten&nbsp;Kempton in three of the four races they sailed together.</FONT></P><P><FONT size=3>For Leigh Kempton, the win at this national championship carries two special honors.&nbsp;&nbsp;She is the first girl to win the title since 1989, and only the second female winner since the national title regatta was established in 1975.&nbsp;&nbsp;In winning this event,&nbsp;Kempton also dethroned teammate Pat Curran, who had won the top honors for the past two years.&nbsp;&nbsp;Reflecting on the experience her slim, blond, ninth-grade daughter has gained by traveling to Europe to compete and then coming to Pensacola to sail, her mother said, "The best part of all of this is the friends she's made."</FONT></P><P><FONT size=3><TABLE cellSpacing=1 borderColorDark=#ed4242 cellPadding=2 width=435 align=center borderColorLight=#c4d7fc border=1><TBODY><TR bgColor=#ed4242><TD align=middle colSpan=3 height=41><P><FONT color=#000000><B><FONT color=#ffffff>USODA National Championship Overall Results<BR></FONT></B></FONT><FONT color=#ffffff>(Top 15 of 180 boats)</FONT> </P></TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>1.</TD><TD width=136>Leigh&nbsp;Kempton </TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 32</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>2.</TD><TD width=136>Todd Hawkins</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 32</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>3.</TD><TD width=136>Pat Curran</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 45</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>4.</TD><TD width=136>Mitch Hall</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Red) 57</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>5.</TD><TD width=136>TJ Tullo</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Red) 67</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>6.</TD><TD width=136>Erik Storck</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 72</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>7.</TD><TD width=136>James Howell</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>(Blue) 75</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>8.</TD><TD width=136>Baker Potts</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>(Blue) 78 </TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>9.</TD><TD width=136 bgColor=#ffffff>Jackson Benvenutti</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>(Red) 78</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>10.</TD><TD width=136>Chris Fontana</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 80</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>11.</TD><TD width=136>Kyle Rogachenko</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Red) 84</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>12.</TD><TD width=136>Edward Conrad</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 89</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>13.</TD><TD width=136>John Sampson</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 91</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20 bgColor=#c4d7fc>14.</TD><TD width=136>Royce Weber</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Red) 91</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>15.</TD><TD width=136>Brian Kamilar</TD><TD align=middle width=78>(Blue) 107 </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></FONT></P><P><FONT size=3></FONT>&nbsp;</P><P><TABLE cellSpacing=1 borderColorDark=#ed4242 cellPadding=2 width=435 align=center borderColorLight=#c4d7fc border=1><TBODY><TR bgColor=#ed4242><TD align=middle colSpan=3 height=41><P><FONT color=#000000><B><FONT color=#ffffff>Green Fleet<BR></FONT></B></FONT><FONT color=#ffffff>(Top 10 of 33 boats)</FONT> </P></TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>1.</TD><TD width=136>Brendan Ross</TD><TD align=middle width=78>24</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>2.</TD><TD width=136>Emily Dellenbaugh</TD><TD align=middle width=78>28</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>3.</TD><TD width=136>Michael Mierswa</TD><TD align=middle width=78>31</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>4.</TD><TD width=136>Ian Heausler</TD><TD align=middle width=78>60</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20>5.</TD><TD width=136>Colin Smith</TD><TD align=middle width=78>62</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>6.</TD><TD width=136>Marshall Crawford</TD><TD align=middle width=78>72</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>7.</TD><TD width=136>Alex Glaser</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>87</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>8.</TD><TD width=136>Charles Gyer</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>100</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#ffffff><TD align=middle width=20 height=25>9.</TD><TD width=136 bgColor=#ffffff>Andrew Fox</TD><TD align=middle width=78 height=25>102</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD align=middle width=20>10.</TD><TD width=136>Colin Vernon</TD><TD align=middle width=78>105</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></P><P><FONT size=3><BR style="mso-special-character: line-break"></FONT><FONT size=3><BR style="mso-special-character: line-break"></FONT>&nbsp;</P><P style="LINE-HEIGHT: 200%"><!--- START SIDE BAR ---><P><TABLE cellPadding=5 width=468 align=center bgColor=#c4d7fc border=1><TBODY><TR><TD><A name=sidebar><P align=left><FONT face="Trebuchet MS, arial" color=#000000 size=+2><B>The Young and the Restless</B></FONT></P></A><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8>&nbsp;</TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=222><IMG height=202 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_dc_optnat1.jpg" width=222></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><P>The racers competing at this championship ranged from eight to 15 years of age, including 33 of the youngest kids racing in the Green Fleet for novice racers who sailed shorter courses on a different section of the bay. Brendan Ross of Lauderdale Yacht Club came from behind to take Green Fleet honors by four points as the early leader, Emily&nbsp;Dellenbaugh, dropped to second after a string of four firsts midway through the 12-race series. Other top finishers included Amy Hawkins in White Fleet (and third girl), and Shannon&nbsp;Heausler in Red Fleet (second girl).</P><P>The conditions for the racing were not extreme, yet still challenging. A few races saw the wind climb into the teens for a brief period of time, but the mix of very light and shifty breeze, followed by spurts of stronger winds and a quickly forming chop on the bay, made boat handling a test of concentration. The championship courses used 7/10-mile legs in most cases when the wind was up and slightly shorter legs in the lightest conditions so most courses were more than two miles in length. Determined to get four races logged on Day Four, the race committee began the race schedule at noon and the boats were still coming off the water at dusk, which meant a very long day for kids, coaches, parents, and the race committee. For additional details on the event and full scores log on to http://www.usoda.org. <!--- END SIDE BAR ---></P><P></TABLE><BR><BR></P></TD></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></P><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD height=8>&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=center><A href="http://www.sailnet.com/store/item.cfm?pid=9145"><IMG height=75 src="http://www.sailnet.com/images/content/authors/cushing/081400_adbutton2.gif" width=320 border=0></A></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><P><P>&nbsp;</P></HTML>


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