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IOD Class Championship: Van Voorhis Wins in San Francisco Breezes

posted Sep 13, 2016, 6:47 AM by IOD-WCA Webmaster   [ updated May 22, 2017, 8:56 AM ]
Charlie Van Voorhis, of Fishers Island, NY, sailed to a convincing win at the 2016 International One-Design Class Championship, a six-day regatta held on San Francisco Bay in September. The fleet included teams representing Norway, Sweden, Bermuda, and the U.S.

In winning the title for the fourth time, Van Voorhis easily finished first in a six-race qualifying series, which split the 11 teams into gold and silver fleets of six and five boats, respectively. [http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=13361

Sailing with Jim Thompson, Neal Fowler, Todd Wake and his son Lyon, Van Voorhis then won four of the six races in the final series. After the racing concluded, his margin of victory was reduced 3 points by a jury penalty for adding ballast water in the bilge before the penultimate race, which he subsequently sailed and won without the water.

The defending champion, Jonathan Farrar, also from Fishers Island, scored consistent top finishes and took second overall, one point behind Van Voorhis. Another Fishers Island team, skippered by John Burnham, won the final race to beat Nantucket's Roy Weedon and San Francisco's Rich Pearce for third, making it a sweep of the top positions for Fishers Island.

The event was sailed from San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon, with races taking place just west of Alcatraz Island in consistent 12-18 knot winds and typically flooding tide, which kept the Bay’s often choppy sea state moderate.  Finishing ahead in the Silver fleet and 7th overall was Rob Van Alen of Northeast Harbor, Maine. [http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=13387]

The 33-foot IODs racing in the event were originally designed in the mid-1930s by Norwegian designer Bjarne Aas and as in many IOD fleets include wood and fiberglass hulls built in the 80 years since. Sailors in the event qualified for the regatta in their home fleets and then sailed in borrowed boats generously loaned by members of the local San Francisco fleet. Putting some of the older and less-used boats in shape to sail in the regatta was a significant volunteer effort by several members of the local fleet.

Under the leadership of regatta chair Paul Zupan, the event used an experimental format intended to make it possible for smaller fleets to host the championship with the same borrowed-boat format. Eight boats were sailed in three races per day; each team competed in two races daily and received a bye in the third during the first three days of the regatta. At that point, the fleet was split into gold and silver divisions for three more days of racing, with the gold competing for the overall title. Silver fleet sailors chose to sail only one day and then by consensus spent the last two days sight-seeing while the gold fleet carried on racing. A total of 17 races were run by principal race officer Forrest Gregg and his San Francisco Yacht Club team.

Umpires were also employed for the first time at a class championship, with chief umpire Luca Babini leading an international team of officials. Some on-water penalties were meted out, typically requiring a 360-degree turn by the boat found guilty. Both the split-fleet format and the use of umpires will be reviewed by the IOD World Class Association and the IOD fleets to consider whether to use and/or modify the systems for use at future championships.

Both San Francisco IOD Fleet and San Francisco Yacht Club members provided housing for many of the visiting sailors, a class tradition that stretches back to the early days of the regatta, which was first run in 1959. 

Normally, the event includes one and sometimes two representatives of any single fleet, but Fishers Island was in the unusual position of having three teams racing because Farrar won 2015 title and thereby received an automatic invitation. In 2017, Van Voorhis will receive the defending champion invitation to the next class championship, scheduled for Northeast Harbor, Maine, in August.