by Jane Fossett and Amythest Wingtips
After two months of hard-fought sailing under difficult conditions, this past weekend the 2011 ACA Trophy Regatta came to an official close with an Awards Ceremony at Hollywood Bowl.
In the off-chance you spent the last three months in Nepal brushing up on transcendental meditation, here’s a recap of the ACA Trophy Promo video that will get you up to speed on the event:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Well now it’s over, and an enthusiatic crowd of threescore sailors came to Hollywood on Saturday to celebrate the Race, all the Competitors, and to shower particular praise on the ultimate Winning Skippers!
LDeWell Hawker and Quirky Torok organized the event and ran Saturday’s show. They began by extolling kudos and heeping awards on division winners Joro Aya (Intermediate Trophy) and Ox Seetan (ACA Lite Trophy)!
They then focused on the Elite Division Finalists, the top four winners of the entire, two-month Regatta.
The ACA Elite Third and Fourth prizes went to Miwha Masala and Silber Sands for a truly glorious bracket of Matches; you can read the details of their Petit Final Match event here.
The Top Two spots in the Elite Division were decided on July 24, the Regatta’s final race day. It was an ultimate Match duel that pit Bolt Bashly against KazumaHs Destiny for the top prize: the ACA Trophy. When the salt-spray cleared that day, Bolt sailed away with the Trophy in hand. How he won that final series proved a true tale of sailing derring-do, a confrontation for the nautical history books.
MarkTwain White filmed the Kaz-Bolt Match series, and his rendition is a true tribute to the excellence of the final competitors. It reveals MTW’s remarkable skill and effort, and the movie ranks among the best virtual sailing videos of all-time. Go watch it a few dozen times times, take notes, grab yourself a copy, then tell your friends to watch, and cherish it always. 🙂
Oh, by the way: Make sure you thank MTW too. 🙂
Bolt and Kaz Battle for Cup Kudos
The Final Match shoot-out took place in Blake Sea, with Starboards Yacht Club hosting. Quirky Torok coordinated the complex event, while LDeWell Hawker kept strict control over all facets of racing, to ensure fairness and consistency.
Actually, the Regatta format ended up pretty simple; the best things usually are.
The first skipper to win three races on Sunday would win the Regatta, and the ruleset was strict: No recourse was given for crashes or sim-server problems. This was a no-whining final fight, a do-or-die duel of Destiny. (No pun intended, Kaz!) 🙂
With so much at stake, it’s worth commenting that Bolt Bashly had some difficulty finding his groove in the early flights. In fact, he lost the initial two races against Kaz pretty badly. In the First Race, Bolt missed the last gate and was scored DSQ. Then in the Second Race, Bolt crashed offline while approaching the Finish line. As the Third Race began, KazumaHs Destiny had racked-up two wins. With 2-0 on the scoreboard, it looked like Kaz was in the catbird seat, and on a roll to win the Regatta.
Bolt was in a bad spot; to stay alive he needed to belly-up and pull off three race-wins in a row. One loss and Bolt would Bottom-Out.
That must have seemed a daunting challenge, but in sail racing, we all know it ain’t over till the Fat Lady sings. Bolt was far from Bashed. Although Kaz is a terrific sailor, Bolt was game-to-go, and the wise bets were on his side. Here’s why:
A One Minute Match Mantra
Over the past few months, Hawk worked tirelessly to teach sailors the details of Match Race Strategy; He’s posted videos, interactive slide shows, and offered many practical training classes. So if you want to win a one-on-one Match, make sure you talk to Hawk and attend his sessions over in Fruit Islands! The classes are great fun, and even if you don’t race, Hawk’s help will make you a much better sailor and give you a lot of new jokes.
But if you don’t have time for the Advanced Course, don’t worry. The tricks to win Match Racing are actually pretty simple, and we saw them play out in the Finals.
When it comes down to it, there are really only two guiding principles necessary to win:
Rule 1. Win the Start.
Rule 2. Never let Anyone Pass You.
Some of us think everything after that is irrelevant. 🙂
Forget about the race course. Focus only on what happens BEFORE you cross the line. If you can’t win the Start, your Match racing future is limited, since a skipper that crosses the Startline first has a huge advantage on any standard, windward-leeward course.
You want proof? Well… That principle proved Dogma in the ACA Trophy Finals… Let’s take a quick look.
In Race #1 of the Finals, Bolt lost. Worse, it looked like he did something truly, incredibly stupid: Bolt forgot to go through the final course gate. How dumb can you get?
But wait a second though, and look again. Actually, Bolt won the Race #1 Start hands-down against Kaz.
That was a true eye-opener; it’s not easy to beat Kaz. Kaz is a Great Sailor, and he earned his spot in the Finals by defeating each-and-every skipper that dared match skill against him. Geez, Kaz even beat Miwha Masala. Many think Miwha is the all-time best ACA skipper in the whole SL fleet.
But Sportsfans? Even though Bolt lost Race #1… he actually, decisively beat Kaz across that Race #1 Start line.
You may have your own ideas about Race #1, but Jane and Amy think Bolt was focused on just one thing: winning that initial prestart duel and seizing the Start. Well, he decisively nailed it, grabbing a strong lead lead as he crossed the line in front of Kaz. Bolt then jealously guarded his position, never giving up his lead as he rounded the course.
Unfortunately, it looks like Bolt was so focused on the “Two Basic Rules” listed above that he ultimately forgot the Third Rule of Racing. Bolt missed the final race mark and ended up DSQ.
Rule #3 is well-known to all sail-racers, but it’s usually left unspoken and it’s not in the ISAF Race Rules, either. Here it is:
Rule 3. Don’t F*ck Up. 🙂
Bolt broke Rule #3 in the First Race. That was maybe a minor embarrassment, but hey, no big deal. Bolt wasn’t emulating Lindsay Lohan, and wasn’t planning to be a repeat offender. You could Bet the Bank that Bolt was not going to make that mistake again. 🙂
Race #2 actually turned out to be a replay of the First test. Bolt had his eyes glued on the the Start, and he played Kaz hard for a singular goal. Bolt’s mission was to make it across the line First.
Well, with intense determination he succeeded. Bolt crossed ahead of Kaz and grabbed clean air.
Once over the line in the lead, Bolt held all the cards. If you clock the two boats in any race, Kaz and Bolt turned out very closely matched for both speed and technical prowess. That made the Start advantage truly crucial, and in Race #2 it let Bolt hold his lead on every leg as he roared around the course.
Unfortunately, Bolt crashed just prior to the Finish. Since Kaz was glued to Bolt’s tail at every move and only seconds astern, Kaz easily grabbed the lead and cruised to his second straight win in the series!
OKOK; Kaz was now leading 2-0. He only needed one additional win to capture the whole Regatta. Race #3 was truly a do-or-die moment for Bolt Bashly. MarkTwain White saw it too, and expressed empathy over Bolt’s sorry predicament:
“Bolt must feel snake-bit after leading the first two races into the final seconds, only to lose.”
Well, after watching these races for five years, I’m convinced the outcomes are not determined by snakes, luck, or even destiny. (I’m sure MTW would agree, and if you have doubts, go look at the Destiny video in the article on Kaz and Takabou from last year 🙂 ).
However, MTW was surely correct: Bolt needed to win three straight races to beat Kaz, and capture the ACA Trophy. Bolt was nearly out, and now he had no margin of error. Kaz had the skill, nerve, and experience to hold the line, and he could smell victory.
A hush went over the crowd at the start of Race #3, as all eyes fell on the two champion contenders. Jane kept thinking of the legendary sailor Erik the Red, who once commented, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Bolt seemingly took those words to heart. He stuck to his elemental strategy: Win the Start.
If anything, it looked like Bolt doubled-down in Race #3. Go review the prestart in MTW’s video for that race. The last few seconds begin around 11:30 min. It shows Bolt dramatically cutting Kaz off at the Committee Boat, in a remarkable display of classic Leeward tactics. Wow!
Here are four snaps of that start from a different angle (taken by Jane):
If you’re a sailor, the sequence is pretty clear. The first image above shows Bolt parallel with Kaz at the west end of the line, with only four seconds on the countdown clock. Bolt is leeward, and he has Right-Of-Way. Kaz is frozen; he has no room to pass between Bolt and the Committee Boat.
The next three images show how it plays out. Bolt plays his leeward card, cutting the line first on Starboard tack. Kaz is forced to come about. He crosses the line several seconds later on Port tack, with far less momentum.
Bolt decisively won Race #3 right there at the Start.
Race #4 turned out to be a replay. Both skippers flaunted skill and swagger in the prestart, but Bolt timed his final tack well. He broke free from Kaz and crossed the Start line several seconds in front.
Bolt then never looked back. Bolt won Race #4, tying it all up. Bolt and Kaz had each won two Races.
After nearly three months of ACA Trophy events and after four Finals races, for such great sailors, an even match score down to the wire seemed both exciting and appropriate. The two Finalists had closely matched abilities, and everything would depend on a single tie-breaking Match.
The Race #5 Prestart was an epic duel of two great champions. Kaz and Bolt traded nonstop punches as the clocked ticked down, and the Start struggle proved an even match until the final seconds.
Bolt then Burst across the line, scoring his Fifth Straight Start Win in the Finals series. Once they were across the startline, Kaz bravely fought against Bolt, sailing with skill and endurance. For such expert skippers, however, the Start advantage proved decisive, and it allowed Bolt Bashly to sail across the Finish, and into the History Books… as the ACA 2011 Trophy Winner.
The 2011 ACA Trophy Regatta was a truly fantastic competition that paid ultimate homage to many weeks… and months… of work by Quirky, Hawk, and over three dozen incredible sailors!
Congratulations to Bolt, Kaz, and all the fantastic skippers; but lets also raise Mega Kudos for Quirky, Hawk, Elbag, SYC, Fruit Islands and the ACA Group for such a Great Effort!