The 2021 Great Lakes Championship had been scheduled to take place over the weekend, 10 to 11 July 2021. Unfortunately, the upcoming thunderstorms prevented the Sunday racing, which was handled with ease by the competent race committee of the North Cape Yacht Club. The PRO had been ready to take on the challenge and planned to complete four races on Saturday in preparation for the Sunday foul weather.
The eight competitors from Michigan, Illinois, New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts met on a 0.7-mile racecourse. The NNE wind ranging from 10 to 14 knots, 30-degree oscillating shifts, and a two-foot short swell, offset by the waves bouncing from the shore, challenged the Finn sailors, making for a complicated and unpredictable beat. It is worth mentioning that “Larry Sprinkle’s” (the weatherman) forecast was wrong, and predicted 4-5 knots turned into perfect Finn weather.
The first start for the Finns sounded at 1240, just five minutes after a 21-boat Lightning fleet. Pin end of the starting line was favorite by at least 20 degrees, so the expected pile-up on the pin resulted in some fails. Stephen Smeulders (USA 1000) tried to squeeze between the pin and Rodion Mazin (USA 16), but the continued left shift forced him to tack and receive a penalty. Nikita Mazin (USA 7) played the shifts just right, staying further on the left side of the course he rounded first on the upwind mark and stayed first to the finish. Jack Jennings (USA 5078) won the second upwind leg but couldn’t match Rodion’s downwind speed, and as a result, placed third in the first race, losing 25 yards to Rody. Stephen Smeulders (USA 1000) couldn’t recover from the bad start and finished fourth. At the back of the fleet, Chuck Rudinsky (USA 40) took control over the rest of the fleet.
The second race was a repetition of the first one, with the favorite pin-side of the start. Nikita Mazin and Stephen Smeulders took off with an incredible upwind speed. Playing the shifts and staying more to the left-hand side of the course, both got a comfortable lead over Rody Mazin and Jack Jennings. Rody’s secret weapon, downwind speed, came in handy again. He was able to overtake USA 1000 just 30 yards before the finish but couldn’t catch his brother, who finished first again.
The third race changed things a bit, the wind shifted to the right, and the boat end was “favorite” this time. The fleet didn’t want to commit to either side; most of the boats started in the middle. The 1991 Sunfish World Champion, Stephen Smeulders, showed infallible upwind skills. He led the third race till the 30 yards before the finish when he was overtaken by USA 16. Nikita Mazin (USA 7) made some bad choices on the upwind legs, picking the right side of the course and following the right-hand side trend throughout the race. Unfortunately for him, the left side paid back as it did in the first and second races. This mistake cost Nikita a regatta win.
The fourth and final race of the short but exciting Great Lakes Championship brought a comfortable win in the race and a regatta win to the class secretary, Rodion Mazin. Starting just above Jack Jennings and Stephen Smeulders, Rody took an early lead over the exhausted Finn fleet. Rolling over Stephen and forcing him to tack over to the right side, Rody tacked to the port just 20 seconds behind Stephen and tacking advantage of the header. Within the next few minutes, he capitalized on two more shifts, headed to the left lay line, and from there led to the end of the race, gaining more ground during both downwind legs. Nikita Mazin took second place, taking advantage of the downwind pumping practice during the national championship in Corpus Christi. Stephen Smeulders finished in third with a 3 point lead over Jack Jennings.
The North Cape Yacht Club offered great sailing conditions and unmatched hospitality. We hope to see competitors from Canada joining us next year during this iconic event. Next on the schedule is Canandaigua Tune-Up Regatta and an iconic Cazenovia Toilet Bowl. Come over and sail with us! The Northeast and Great Lakes circuit is growing, and Finns are invited to attend more regattas.
- Rodion Mazin (USA 16) – 2, 2, 1, 1 – 6
- Nikita Mazin (USA 7) – 1, 1, 3, 2 – 7
- Stephen Smeulders (USA 1000) – 4, 3, 2, 3 – 12
- Jack Jennings (USA 5078) – 3, 4, 4, 4 – 15
- Charles Rudinsky (USA 40) – 5, 5, 5, 7 – 22
- Will Libcke (USA 3) – 7, 6, 6, 5 – 24
- Peter Frissell (USA 101) – 6, 8, 7, 6 – 27
- JJ Miller (USA 260) – 8, 7, DNF, DNF – 29