A family crew from Jamestown were crowned North American champion in the IC37 class after finishing at the top of the fleet in the last New York Yacht Club regatta of the season.
Das Blau Max, with four members of the Sertl family on board, won the three-day event that culminated Sunday on the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Most 25-year-olds hate summoning their parents to bail them out, but to win the inaugural continental championship coxswain Nick Sertl had to do just that in the first race.
A bad start caused the Das Blau Max crew to watch a whole fleet of transom, and the high likelihood of a disappointing race to start the regatta. So he called on his parents, Cory and Mark, and together they worked their way through the fleet to clinch a second place finish in the opening pursuit of the eight-race regatta. Cory Sertl was the tactician.
“The speed of our boat was very good,” said Nick Sertl. “Most of the time, I give credit to my dad, who cuts the main course. It is very sensitive. Two or three inches of mainsheet makes the difference between going fast and going slow. A fast boat makes the tactician look good, makes the driver look good. I think all the gears clicked on this regatta, whereas in the previous races we were fast, but made bad decisions or made bad starts.
The IC37 North American Championship featured 17 Corinthian teams battling for top honors in Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. The IC37 class was created by the New York Yacht Club to promote one-design competition for amateur sailors, and the 37-foot high-performance keelboat was designed by Mark Mills. Strict class rules ensure a level playing field for big boat sailing.
This opening race would prove to be essential for a second reason. As Das Blau Max regained second place, another team saw a solid finish evaporate when they learned after the race that they had crossed the starting line seconds earlier. Members Only, led by Hannah Swett and Jamestown resident Ben Kinney, eventually managed to rule out that 18-point penalty for starting early and taking the lead in the penultimate race. But Swett, Kinney and company started the final race with no margin for error. Das Blau Max had finished no worse than seventh in the first seven races and could win the championship forcing Members Only to a poor result.
“We did the math before the race,” said Sertl. “Our worst race then was a seventh and Members Only was disqualified so if they sailed an eleventh or worse we would win the regatta. So our plan was to pin them early or push them or something like that.
It’s not a foolproof strategy, however, that Sertl learned during the 2013 World Junior Championships for the Lightning class.
“We were in the same situation, and the other boat went around us and they beat us,” he said.
Eight years later, however, the tactic paid off for the crew.
“There was a point where we were both on the port side and quite close to each other, then a boat tacked, and the members only had to dodge them and we went half a boat length. in front of them two and a half boat lengths ahead, “he said. “From there it was a little more under control. But there were certainly some nervous moments on the boat.
After primarily match racing with the Members Only team on all five stages of the final race, Das Blau Max finished 15th, with Members Only 17th, winning the championship for the Sertl team, which also included sister Katja. of Nick, in the crew.
“We have a lot of opinions on the boat and we’re not afraid to express them,” said Sertl. “But every time we come home for Christmas and see the pictures of us sailing together, I think, ‘It was a real pleasure sailing together last summer. I’m really glad we were able to do it.
With a fourth place finish in the final race, Doug Newhouse’s Yonder team managed to overtake Members Only for second place. Ed Whitmore’s ticket finished fourth in the regatta. It’s been a long season of learning and growing as a team for the Whitmore squad, which includes Andy Giglia, the event president for the Championship, but this result made all the hard work worth it. .
“The wind was very unstable so you have to be able to execute all the maneuvers and keep the boat moving,” said Giglia. “We have competed in all the IC37 regattas this year and for us it was a huge step forward as we weren’t competing at this level. The work of our crew has become phenomenal and our tactics are really good, and everything has gone well. “
According to Giglia, the Ticket team will continue to climb the learning curve during the IC37 2021-22 winter series in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For the majority of the regatta crews, however, it will be six months before they meet again in the spring to consider another season of one-design keelboat racing.