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Wow, New Orleans Yacht Club won the 39th Annual GYA OFFSHORE CHALLENGE CUP! Don’t think we have done that since b.k. (Before Katrina). The GYA and Gulfport Yacht Club hosted a wonderful regatta. Regatta Chairperson Ms. Monica Hewes did a fantastic job facilitating this regatta with her Scorers, Race Committee, Judges & Support Staff. They presented and ran a great three-day event both on and off the water.

NOYC could not have achieved this big win without our gracious boat owners that were very generous in providing competitive and well-maintained boats. Our biggest thank you goes to these awesome owners Herb Sumrall, Rusty Weaver, Charlie Jagneaux, Chris Wientjes and Glen Tonguis. They all sailed with the NOYC team and were a big part of the victory. In addition, a few key team members that consistently went above and beyond were Macho Slavich, Dave Erwin, Hans Wientjes, Robert Wientjes, R.J Trejo, Jason Byl, Austin Abel, Shane Macey, Lauren Loeffelholz, Benz Faget and Riley Stogner. These folks were behind the scenes leading logistics, stepping masts, organizing, delivering boats and doing much more. I am sure I missed a few, so please feel free to berate my oversight and bum a drink off me.

New Orleans Yacht Club put their best foot forward this year with the incredible fresh new leadership of Commodore Jessica Quinn and Challenge Cup Team Captain Mary Hewes. NOYC Commodore Quinn, Flag Officers and the Board of Directors afforded the team a sensible budget and made sure that all resources possible were made available to achieve this victory. First time Team Captain Mary Hewes led a collaborative committee that evaluated skippers, analyzed/approved boat selection and organized one of the most talented crew pools NOYC has put together in quite some time. It was great to see so many new members and fresh faces sailing in this event, on the NOYC team. Both Commodore Quinn and Ms. Hewes sailed multiple races for the team.

As we all know, Challenge Cup is not about winning your class, it’s about making sure your team wins and counting your team’s lowest three scores of each race. Our skippers executed strategy with near perfection and made the occasional sacrifice covering competition that limited their own overall class results. In “A” Class, Chris Wientjes on Stormvogel was tasked with racing against two former Olympians. He was a little slow out of the gate but finished strong, leading all three Melges 32s in races 4 & 5 and winning the more heavily weighted last race. Stormvogel scored consistently low enough to have their score counted in every race of the series for team points. They placed second overall in their class.

In “B” Class, Olympic Boatwright Donnie Brennan skippered Melges 24 Kryptonite. This class was very difficult to sail in with so many different types of high performance boats excelling differently in the various conditions. Four different boats won races in this class. Kryptonite performed consistently putting points where needed and making sure we covered the spread in this class. They had one major setback with a broken halyard in race 4 but were back on the water for race 5 saving their time where it counted.

In “C” Class, former Laser racer Dr. Anthony Hudson stepped up sailing Santana 30 Ghost to an overall finish of 2nd in class. The Ghost team was certainly a big part of the overall win with 1st place finishes in races 1,3 & 5. These gentlemen were quick to make positional adjustments and truly embodied a team atmosphere on their boat. They were definitely a force to be wreckoned with on day 2 of racing.

In “D” Class, Ensign & J22 Champion Benz Faget skippered Wavelength 24 Another Dubious Decision to an overall 4th place finish. Their low scores of 1-2-2 in races 2,3 & 4 kept the team total low and our competition pushed back. This class too, certainly afforded its challenges with so many different hull shapes and sail plans that excel in the diverse conditions. A shout out in this class definitely is merited to Lee Creekmore on Scoundrel sailing for Mobile Yacht Club as he won his class by the biggest margin this year with an overall low point total of 12.5 .

The GYA Offshore Challenge Cup is the Gulf Coast’s premier performance handicap racing event every year. If you like handicap racing you really can’t miss this event as it brings out the best boats, skippers and crew. New Orleans Yacht Club’s performance this year was magnificent. The camaraderie and sportsmanship of this regatta truly made it fun for everyone. Moving forward we need to figure out these Vipers if we want a shot at the Triple Crown. Congratulations Team!


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