Report by Jeff Bonanni
Seventeen teams attended the Toms River Yacht Club Tune Up Regatta on May 31, 2014 to kick off the start of E scow racing on Barnegat Bay. The fleet sailed four races in a 15-18 knot north-easterly on the Wanamaker course. Puffs up to 20 knots meant the fleet steadily shrunk race after race. PRO Chip Hillyer and crew set an outer loop trapezoid course, which gave the fleet the rarely seen (and exciting) reach leg. This made for some interesting passing lanes in the puffy conditions.
Given the short course distance available in a north easterly breeze, races were limited to approximately 25 minutes. Short leg lengths put a premium on starting, managing the starboard layline and clean boathandling around the marks.
Race 1 saw SS-1 John Brown hook into some monster puffs and extend away from the fleet on the downwind legs. John, with his team of brothers Will Demand and George Demand, showed no rust after an impressive winter on the Melges 20 circuit together.
There were several lead changes in Race 2 between the top group of LA-99 Dave Magno, LE-3 Bob Donat and T-73 Jeff Bonanni. Ultimately Magno’s team hooked into a big easterly shift at the first leeward gate and took what seemed to be the same puff all the way to the windward mark and then back down to the finish for his first race win in his new Magnum Force E scow.
T-73 Jeff Bonanni took race 3, leading at all marks, with SS-1 John Brown chasing for much of the race. Going into the final race 4, Brown led with 7 points over T-73 Bonanni and LE-3 Donat with 10.
Race 4 again saw SS-1 and T-73 leading and extending away from the fleet. At the final offset leg T-73 gybed directly around the offset mark to hook into a huge easterly puff. As T-73 and SS-1 (a boatlength to leeward) struggled to lay the finish line in the big header, T-17 Chad Hillyer was in hot pursuit. The puff didn’t let up and SS-1 capsized, giving T-73 the race and regatta win. Jeff Bonanni, with crew Mike O’Brien, Matt Goetting and Maggie Condon took the win for the second year in a row, with SS-1 taking second and LE-3 taking third.