Winning the Hinman, from Team Jet Lag
This past weekend, Team Jet Lag, comprised of St. Francis Race Team members and Stanford Sailing alumni, clinched the US Team Racing National Championship title for the George R. Hinman trophy. The team was composed of Mateo Vargas, Sammy Steele, Oliver Toole, Kelly Ortel, Kevin Laube and Yuri Namikawa, all of whom have been working hard toward this goal for the last couple of years. This year’s event featured 14 teams from around the country, as well as sailors from England, all of whom were selected by resumé. The competitor list featured numerous World and National Champions, Olympians, and college All-Americans. It was considered to be one of the most competitive Hinmans of the past several years.
We arrived at Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Long Island, NY, on Thursday afternoon to practice and familiarize ourselves with the new variation of 420 that was the official boat for this event. We started off the championship with a strong first day of sailing, only dropping one race to a controversial umpire call. This put us at the top of the pack early in the round robin—a place we had discussed wanting to be early on, given the questionable wind forecast for the rest of weekend.
Saturday’s forecast for marginal conditions proved to be spot-on and there was no sailing until 5:00pm. The team did a great job staying hydrated and active throughout the day and we were able to sail well in several more races, only dropping one more race to put our record at 8-2 going into the last day. This put us in second place as a result of where the rotation stopped for the day, allowing one other team with the same number of losses to sail an extra race and sit in the first place position.
Sunday was a bit of an unnerving day, given that the conditions turned out to be just as miserable as the day before for the majority of the day. Finally, with a cut-off time of 3:00pm, the wind filled around 2:00pm, giving the Race Committee just enough time to fire off another group of races to attempt to complete the round robin. With three other teams sitting at two losses, we knew that we still controlled our own destiny, but that we would have to come out with strong performances in the last few races.
In the first race of the day, we had a solid start and immediately stabilized a winning combination of a 2-3-4. Despite a good fight by the British team to destabilize the play on the last leg, we were able to stay in control and take the race win. After a quick boat rotation, we headed back to the start for a final race against a group of former Roger Williams University sailors. We knew that if we could pull off a win in this race, we would likely win the championship. Our team had a dominant start and rounded the first mark in a 1-2-3, leading us to a win in our final race of the event and the overall win for the championship.
After several years of hard work, with a few previous top-3 finishes at the Hinman, including an extremely tough loss in 2015 where we lost the event in the last few feet of the final race, we are extremely proud to have persevered and become US Team Racing National Champions. We are very grateful for the support of the Club and everyone else who has helped us along the way. We look forward to continuing to push our sailing, as well as continuing to help foster a pipeline to keep St Francis Yacht Club at the top of high-level events for many years to come.
Team Jet Lag