In the Chicago Yacht Cup 2016 Verve Cup regatta, Flying Pig and Sealark set a blistering pace in light airs on Sunday, with The Asylum, Rocking Horse and the rest of the fleet hot on their heels. Ultimately, Clark Pellett's Sealark (the 2010 Overall Cup winner) was able to post two bullets on the final day to win the very competitive J/105 section of the 24th annual regatta.
Following a wash-out Friday where all races were cancelled, there was an action packed Saturday with four races. Sealark got off to a fast start with a pair of bullets, followed by Flying Pig with two seconds and The Asylum with two thirds. The third race of the day saw a nearly 180 degree wind shift and brought some exciting changes in positions in the final 2/3rd of the race--the third leg turned into another downwind--but still a tight reach to the second "windward" mark and the final leg becoming an off-wind fetch, requiring a jib to successfully navigate to the finish. The Asylum and Rocking Horse were able to successfully change gears, while Sealark was able to overtake Flying Pig after the wind switch scrambled the entire field. In race 4 on Saturday, the fleet got enmeshed with the slower T-10s nearing the second windward mark, and Sealark was protested for tacking too close into a starboard lee bow position about 75 yards from the pin. (The wind had shifted right by 12 degrees, leaving some of the T-10s overstood on the other board.) To avoid going into the room, Sealark opted for the 20% scoring penalty to stay even with the rest of the field. At the finish of race four Rocking Horse came rolling in on starboard pushing a group of boats out of the way to successfully block Flying Pig on port. Then as they both gybed back to the finish the two boats somehow squeezed between the other fleets to create what was one of the most exciting finishes ever. You could have walked from the committee boat to the pin with out getting wet. The finishing boats were all just inches apart. It was awesome. Flying Pig, The Asylum, and Rocking Horse took the other top spots for that race. By the end of the day, The Asylum and Flying Pig were tied with 10 points with Sealark 3 points ahead of them.
Sunday brought a light air day with tricky conditions and lots of traffic at the marks. The first race gave Sealark some breathing room as Rocking Horse finished ahead of Flying Pig. In turn, Flying Pig gained two points when The Asylum banged the right corner and fell to a fifth place finish behind Vytis. The final race had Sealark just nipping Mike Sheppard's Flying Pig crew at the finish line that was jammed with at least 15 boats crossing in a span of less than 20 seconds. The pair had rounded overlapped at the top mark, with Sealark just ahead. The J/105 fleet had to pick their way through the slower T-10s approaching the second windward (short) mark rounding and all the way down the final leg. Meanwhile, the 36.7 fleet, that was also racing on the same course, converged on the finish line as the two boats fought to keep clear of starboard tacked boats, yet maintain boat speed to get across the line. Sealark managed to jibe and sneak across just ahead of an overlapped Flying Pig for the win. Meanwhile, Jon Weglarz' The Asylum held off any challengers for third place and secured the final spot on the podium.
Congratulations to all, it was a regatta to remember.
Complete results are here: