New England 6mR 2006 Maine Series
Four 6mRs: two classic and two modern, gathered in Blue Hill bay to kick off the 2006 series. The boats themselves are interesting stories. The two moderns St. Francis VII US108 and Ranger US112 are almost identical, having been designed and built for the Tom Blackhaller and Ted Turner syndicates tuning up for Americas Cup activity in 1979. The two classics, Alana KC 11 and Flapper N 71 are full keel boats representing the design genius of Fife (1929) and Jensen (1939). Despite the fact that over 45 years separates the moderns and classics, they shared the same starts in all of the races, the classics keeping the moderns on their toes.
July 29 - Blue Hill Bay - Breeze 8 to 10 knts: Two windward/leeward races with St. Francis getting the bullet both times. The real battle was between Alana and Flapper given that Ranger could not participate. In the first race, Alana managed to get to the windward mark first and hold off Flapper on the downwind leg for second place. In the second race, Flapper was out-pointing Alana to the windward mark and had tacked for the spinnaker set when her boom snapped, allowing Alana another second place finish. The speed Flapper was beginning to show in the second race would become more clear over the course of the week.
July 30 - Blue Hill Bay - Breeze 8 to 10 knts: St. Francis was finally joined by her sister ship, Ranger on the course. Flapper, equipped with a new boom was also ready to go. Starts to all three races were well contested with the moderns showing their higher pointing ability to their advantage in the starts, several times closing the door at the committee boat end of the line, thereby forcing the classics to bail. With strong local knowledge and superior boat handling, Ranger managed three bullets under the helm of guest skipper, Teke Wiggin. Alana and Flapper traded places several times over all three races with Flapper pulling out the right tack at the right time to sneak over the finish line ahead.
July 31 - Blue Hill to Brooklin - Breeze 4knts at start, died and built to 15knts at finish: In the first port-to-port regatta of the series, the fleet enjoyed a downwind start with all four boats hitting the line with spinnakers flying. Light wind allowed all the boats to bunch up as each skipper protected their air. 8nm into the race, the air died and all boats except St. Francis, which was furthest left, parked. St. Francis managed to sneak along in very light air and was the first to get the new sea breeze coming in from the South. The other boats waited for the wind, with finishing order being largely determined by who got the breeze first. St. Francis first, Flapper 2nd, Ranger 3rd and Alana 4th. That night the fleet enjoyed a lobster bake at the Lookout Inn and, owing to claims of being over-served alcohol, initiated the Burning Chap ceremony. What happens at the Lookout Inn stays at the Lookout Inn.
August 1 - Brooklin to Castine - Breeze 4knts at the start, died at the finish: Another downwind start with St. Francis and Flapper going left down the Eggemoggin Reach with Ranger and Alana going right. After 4nm the fleet converged underneath Deer Isle bridge, which continued until Bucks Harbor. Flapper initiated a flyer and went far right while the moderns and Alana stayed to the left of the course. A new breezed filled in from the left and Flapper was left gasping. With 4 nm left in the race, Flapper came back from the dead and appeared on Alana's hip and slowly started to climb above her. Meanwhile, St. Francis had already entered Castine harbor and Ranger had parked at the mouth. Fresh air built and the Flapper and Alana converged upon Ranger, allowing Ranger only two minutes of safety time over Flapper, despite having had such a large lead. St. Francis 1st, Ranger 2nd, Flapper 3rd and Alana 4th.
August 2 - Castine Harbor - Breeze 4knts at the start 6knts at the finish. One windward/leeward race hosted by the Castine Yacht club. The moderns did well in the the light air and went far left to pick up a lift from Islesboro Island while the classics went right and did not prosper. With the moderns well ahead, Flapper cleverly sailed the shifts and was in phase and thereby covered a lot of ground to the windward mark. A downwind finish in Castine harbor saw St Francis 1st, Ranger 2nd, Flapper 3rd and Alana 4th.
August 3 - Castine to Brooklin - Breeze 6kts at the start, shifty for the duration. Flapper owned the race from the start, choosing the committee boat end of the starting line, allowing them to clear Cape Rosier under spinnaker. Alana followed with the moderns in pursuit. On Flapper, rigging drama was overcome with great seamanship - with the chute flying, the forestay furler gave way. After reconnecting the forestay, the process caused the spinnaker halyard to become jammed, making a spinnaker takedown at the next mark impossible. Brandon Rieff free climbed the mast to blow the spinnaker shackle - all this while still managing to stay ahead of St Francis. St. Francis and Flapper were in a dog fight all the way to the finish, the St Francis finishing two boat lengths ahead. St. Francis 1st, Flapper 2nd, Alana 3rd, Ranger 4th.
August 5 - Eggemoggin Reach Regatta - Breeze 10 to 12kts. Over 100 classic boats gathered for the 21st ERR. Greeted by fresh breeze and a downwind start, all for boats converged on Egg Rock together. Flapper and Ranger elected to keep the chutes flying on a tight reach to Halibut rock. Alana had trouble handling the chute and St. Francis opted for just the genoa. On the approach to Halibut Rock, Flapper started luffing St. Francis up, which, with patience, gave St Fancis a chance to tack and have a clear lane to the turning mark. Traffic at Halibut Rock forced Ranger wide and gave St Francis a much better lane. The race home had St. Francis and Ranger trading tacks on the way into the Babson Island finish with the St. Francis beating Ranger by a narrow margin. St Francis 1st, Ranger 2nd, Flapper 3rd and Alana 4th. Given that Ranger is cold molded, she qualified as a wooden boat and won second place in the Spirit of Tradition class, loosing to an 8mR by a very narrow margin.
Over all scores: The series was won by St. Francis, skippered by Hans Oen. Hans proved consistently fast and tactically clever.
Maine Series 2007: Planning has already started for the 2007 series which will center on competition for the Olin Stephens Classic Cup. It is expected that the classic fleet will number five boats: Alana KC 11, Lucie US 55, Flapper N 71, Totem US 51 and Silk US 63.