Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sportsmanship Award

Goes to Eric Rahnenfuerher, Sail #136.

Yesterday was nothing like groundhog day. Everyday of racing the dog fight has been between the two top men, Gebi and Ben, both on and off the water. In light winds in the first race, Gebi wins and Ben gets second. Then the wind picks up slightly, Ben wins and Gebi gets second. At end of the day the scores are even again. One can see the intensity and the pressure increased exponentially as each man realized with only six races left, today was the day that the lead needed to be taken. No one could have imagined the drama that unfolded in the first race, but everyone can recognize that who came out on top had the odds stacked against him.

One minute left, 30 seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 the boys are off. But, wait.... Ben is coming in lee (downwind) of Gebi at the pin end of start line. Slowly Ben is pinching Gebi off and heading upwind at a higher angle. Gebi does not stop but keeps going instead of tacking or ducking behind to give Ben the right away he has earned. They both keep going, fighting it out until something has to give. Gebi pushes Ben into the pin end, and Ben falls off his board. PROTEST: This is not supposed to be a contact sport. Gebi does his 360 in acknowledgment of the protest, and Ben gets up. They are off again, and Ben starts pulling away. Now, it is the last upwind mark rounding, Bob and Ben are in the lead about to round the mark at the same time. Ben is being lifted coming into the mark on port side and just below him is Bob coming in on starboard, who by sailing rules has the right away. Ben has plenty of room to cross in front of Bob but then the puff of wind he was riding dropped and so did his boatspeed causing the gap between them to narrow. Then, the crash..... Bob hits Ben. Ben is in the water a second time. Ben gets back on his broken board and earns second as Gebi comes in 3rd.

Ben's board had a huge hole in the side of it, and was impossible to repair on the water with one more race to go. This is where Eric saves the day. Due to destruction to Ben's board and being approximately 2 miles from the dock of the yacht club, the judges approved Ben to use Eric's board. If it was not for Eric, Ben's Olympic Dream would have been shattered right then and there. Thank you Eric for your sportsmanship. On a board the he'd never sailed before, Ben went out and sailed his heart out. He came in second as Gebi came in 3rd. As you can imagine there were protests all over the place. But, in the end, Ben came out on top, leading on the scoreboard.

Official Race Results
This photo does not do the dog fight between the boys justice, but you can see they all want it and want it bad. We still have four more races left. Ben has to stay up all night to repair his board. As you can imagine his adrenaline and dreams for his spot in the Olympic Games would make it hard for him to sleep anyways. So, I guess he at least has something to keep busy with. It's going to be an exciting last couple of races.

Denise Parris, USA 235