PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - Jim and Chris Davis sailed Orange Crate over the finish line at 12:14 p.m. yesterday, and the crew cheered so loudly you could hear it on shore.
It was the third straight win for the North Cape Yacht Club boat, a 34-footer that is leading the Jib-and-Main Division and Class A.
The JAM fleet and the performance handicap racing division raced on two separate courses, but each went around Green and Ballast islands to a finish off Peach Point.
Orange Crate got off to a clean and fast start and hit the first shift just right.
"We crossed the fleet and were looking back the rest of the way to make sure we were doing well," Jim Davis said. "We had pretty good air, except at the last it got real light and fluky and I got out of sorts.
"We didn't sail a good last leg, but we put on a monster lead at Ballast Island so it didn't matter," he said.
It was also a good day for Tom and Park McRitchie's Jeb 3, a Beneteau 40.7 from Port Clinton Yacht Club. Jeb 3 finished second, after William Hertel's Magic, in PHRF Class A but managed to hang on to the lead in the three-day PHRF series.
"It was light and sticky downwind and we looked forward to the upwind leg up the slot," Park McRitchie said.
"Stand Aside was in front of us and Magic was right behind us. We couldn't stretch out enough on Magic, but we did pick up on Stand Aside."
Everything went right for Jeff and Marilyn Mackay's Wizard, an Evelyn 32 that scored its third straight bullet in the series and also topped the division.
"We had really good boat speed," Marilyn Mackay said. "Everything was the same except for a few little changes in the jib halyard tension, but things really clicked today."
Wizard survived a tacking duel with Racer X in the first leg and stretched out her lead in the second.
"On the third leg, we had a big debate about whether to go with a spinnaker or a jib," Mackay said. "It was close, but we had the jib up already and we were staying up with all the boats in the fleet ahead of us.
"It's so much easier to stay ahead when you're in the lead."
Powder Hound came in second and Racer X third.
In today's race, the final event in the series, Mackay planned to cover them both.
"This is a very competitive fleet and they both are very good," she said. "You can never take them for granted."
In the battle for overall, Jeb 3 and Wizard will have to contend with Len Strahl's Lionheart II, an S2/10.3 with a perfect record in PHRF Class E.
Brian Huntley's Infrared, which is sitting in seventh overall, also has a string of wins in Class F.
Infrared, a Kelly 28 with 25 years on the water, is a good all-around boat, Huntley said.
"Coming out of Green Island, we were a little worried about [Scott Boettner's] Kicks," he said. "We wanted to be sure we saved our time on them and we actually did.
"We had five minutes on them at Ballast, then doubled that distance on the beat home."
The win put Infrared 4.75 points ahead of Kicks in the PHRF F series.
"They're good sailors, but if they win and we take fourth tomorrow,we can still beat them," Huntley said.
John Glanville's Kicks, a Tripp 33 with the same name as Boettner's boat, won the PHRF B race and regained the top spot in that class.
Main trimmer Keith Gilford said that two bigger boats, Everly and Hellion, "waterlined" Kicks on the second leg, which was a reach.
"They went closer to Middle Bass," he said. "We were forced to tack and got a lift inside them that carried us into the finish.
"It was a good race to the end and we had no idea who was going to make it. In 30 seconds we could have gone from first to fourth," he said. "We were all watching our stop watches."
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