Texas RS Aero State Championship at the 5th Annual Firecracker Regatta at Viridian Sailing Center, Arlington, TX, USA
Published 12:00am on 29 Jun 2021
A deep field of sailors competed in the 5th Annual Firecracker Regatta at Viridian Sailing Center, June 26-27th, 2021. For the second year in a row the Firecracker served as the official RS Aero State Championship for Texas.
The event saw winds from the south ranging from four to over 25 mph. The entire fleet of RS Aero 5s, 7s, and 9s sailed together, each fleet was scored separately and RS handicap values determined the combined winner. Spectators enjoyed an up close and personal view of the starting line from the dock and more than one noted how exciting it was to see so many Aeros leap across the line in unison when the horn sounded.
The Dallas Laser Fleet came out in full force to support single handed racing in the Dallas Metroplex. Aston Atherton of Gulf Coast Youth Sailing Association / Rush Creek Yacht Club / Corinthian Sailing Club, Eric Roman, Forest Atkins, Sydney Pinegar, and Griffin Orr of Corinthian Sailing Club, and Max and Marc Nilsson of Fort Worth Yacht Club all competed.
Veteran Aero sailor Hank Saurage, newcomers Chris Wientjes and Dale Steincamp, and father-son duo Eugene and Keegan Schmitt traveled from Louisiana to compete. Akira Tanaka came from California, Ash Beatty drove up from southern Texas, and Aubin Hattendorf flew in from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. They were joined by a strong group of sailors from Viridian for a total of 27 racers over the course of the event. Notable home team competitors included current RS Aero 5 North American Champion Cynthia Griffith, 2020 Texas State RS Aero 7s Champ Long Ta, and 2020 Texas State RS Aero 9s Champ Jack Hattendorf.
Day 1 saw the heaviest breezes of the weekend, with 27 mph gusts from the SSE, capsizing many sailors--especially on the reaches and downwinds. A few gusts toppled multiple competitors at once, leading to good-natured ribbing on the water. As typical for Lake Viridian, the winds proved to be quite shifty, rewarding sailors who could simultaneously manage the high breeze and the shifts. Ultimately, sailors competed in 8 races on a Gold Cup Triangle Course on Day 1.
The RS Aero 9s rocketed the rounding of the reach mark, sliding through the chop on the lake as if riding on a majestic magic carpet. Notably, Aston Atherton, age 16, was at the front of the pack, finishing first in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th race, only losing control downwind and capsizing before crossing the finish during the 7th race. In the RS Aero 7s, Griffin Orr finished first in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th races. Viridian's own Long Ta ruled the RS Aero 5s with multiple first-place finishes.
In an exciting reversal after an on-water bump damaged his Aero just before the starting horn, Hank Saurage tore back to the dock shouting, "I need a new hull!" Staff and volunteers leapt into action and provided an Indianapolis-style pit stop, swapping out the damaged boat in moments and reattaching his mast and sail to a different Aero. Even with a late start, Hank returned to the race and managed a strong finish.
By the end of 8th race of the day, the sailors were happy to call it quits, wrapping up around 3 pm. After the races, sailors enjoyed cold beer and cooling off in the pool. There were more than a few stories of cramped arms getting stuck while bent and cramped fingers locked around the tiller, leading to some amusingly non-traditional sailing positions.
That evening, the VSC Advisory Board set up long banquet tables for Dinner on the Dock, hosting over 60 people for a fajita and margarita feast as the sun sank over the horizon. The Viridian Resident Association's annual fireworks display over Lake Viridian ended the day in spectacular fashion.
Running the majority of the races on Day 1 proved to be the right decision, as on Day 2 the wind dropped to 4-8 knots with shifts from the SSW. In light of conditions, the RC to set up a W course. The lighter air made the races more technical than the previous day. Racers enjoyed the change of pace and completed four morning races in the new configuration before heading back to the dock for the awards ceremony.
RS Aero 5
STATE CHAMP - Long Ta, Viridian Sailing Center
2nd - Aubin Hattendorf, USNA / Viridian Sailing Center
3rd - Ava Hattendorf, Viridian Sailing Center
RS Aero 7
STATE CHAMP - Griffin Orr, Corinthian Sailing Club
2nd - Eugene Schmitt, Bay Waveland Yacht Club
3rd - Hank Saurage, Pontchartrain Yacht Club
RS Aero 9
STATE CHAMP - Aston Atherton, Rush Creek Yacht Club / Corinthian Sailing Club
2nd - Eric Roman, Corinthian Sailing Club
3rd - Jack Hattendorf, Viridian Sailing Center / Corinthian Sailing Club
OVERALL WINNER Griffin Orr, Corinthian Sailing Club
Simply put, Viridian Sailing Center put on a great event! The staff and membership were friendly and supportive, providing airport pick-ups, accommodations in homes, and lots of Texas hospitality.
The event organizers are grateful for the sailors who traveled from out of state to compete and would like to express thanks to all who participated. We are grateful to Bay Waveland Yacht Club for hosting Viridian sailors at the North American Aero Championships earlier this month Viridian Sailing Center is pleased to be a new stop on the Aero regatta circuit.