Coconut Grove Sailing Club, January 20, 2020 — 37 teams from across the country competed over a three-day span on the waters off Miami for the International 420 North American Championship. As a newcomer to the class, I was immediately both struck by and impressed with the talent among sailors and coaches; this is an intensely competitive class, and those at the top pursue sailing competition at a virtually professional level. If you want to sail a 2-person trapeze dinghy against the very best, this class will not disappoint you. It was also nice to see many young teams, some recent Optimist Class graduates, taking the next step and learning a whole new type of sailing.
Upper Biscayne Bay dished out a great variety of conditions; this required sailors to excel in just about every condition, and forced tuning changes not only day-to-day, but for many, out on the water as well. Shifting gears with confidence was a necessary skill at this regatta, and in the lighter wind races, consistent lane management was crucial, as bad air and missed shifts are even more costly when the wind is light.
Day One brought a brisk 15-25 knot E wind that settled down a bit as the day went on. Four races were sailed in these mostly full-on conditions. Sunday, day two, brought very light airs, 4-8 knots from the SE-S, and the fleet sailed 3 races in non-trapping conditions. Day three, Monday, brought a N wind that never built up to the forecast, and stayed in the 5-9 range for the regattas final two races. This race committee did an impeccable job with communication, race course placement, size, and most impressive, their ability to keep the regatta moving at a brisk, but not break-neck, pace.
The line size and race course length allowed sailors a fair chance to do all of the following:
- Gain an advantage with great boat handling
- Gain an advantage with superior boat speed
- Come back from a bad start, missed shift or bad luck (unpredictable wind shift/hole)
- Lose position by not constantly making solid tactical decisions
- Lose distance when lacking clear air, proper lane management on all course legs
One bad decision in this fleet was very costly. It was not uncommon to see teams lose 5-10 boats simply by being on the wrong side of a shift or missed puff. Teams that excelled in this event had great boat handling, great speed, and maybe most importantly, the confidence in these two factors to be able simply to focus on the racing.
A big key in this class is the ability of both skipper and crew to work together intuitively to shift gears and execute excellent boat handling, especially around marks, so that all mental focus can be placed on the race course, the competition, and the wind. Big gains (and losses) happened at the start and turning marks, which is a function of boat handling. Big gains (and losses) also happened on the course legs, which was a function of speed, confidence in trim/tuning, and consistent lane management.
Sail1Design employed good friend Lior Lavie to interview a top i420 team, The Callahan brothers, to get their take on the past, present, and future. Enjoy:
WAY BACK WHEN
Tell us about your entry into the class, when you just started out. Why the i420?
Justin Callahan: This is the boat we transitioned to, from the Optimist. We very much liked all the things you could tune on it to make it go fast. And, our long-time Coach, Lior, had a lot of experience in the I420.
What was it like starting out?
Mitchell Callahan: It took a while to get momentum going, because we are both skippers, so we had to figure out who was going to do which position, and then it took a while to learn how to communicate, but that turned out to be just fine.
How long have you been in the class?
Justin Callahan: Two-plus years.
Are you glad you chose it?
Mitchell Callahan: Yes. We have enjoyed the camaraderie of our team here in Miami, as well as continually being challenged by the boat.
What went well for you?
Justin Callahan: We had very good boat speed, because we have learned how to tune the boat in all conditions, which is crucial to do well in this boat. Plus, by starting conservatively and having confidence in our boat speed, we were able to start more to the middle of the line and pick our spots, depending on what was happening with the wind and where our competitors were positioned.
Any challenges to overcome this weekend sailing or tuning?
Mitchell Callahan: We just had to be very alert, because the conditions seemed to keep changing for every race, so we were constantly tuning the boat. It was also very important to keep your eyes out of the boat, especially to catch the first shift, as the wind pattern was unstable.
What advice do you have for young teams starting out?
Justin Callahan: Spend time in the boat, on the water, and keep experimenting against competition that is better than you are.
Can you identify the most critical key to your success?
Mitchell Callahan: Communication, ability to catch the first shift, and be smart around mark roundings. Also, being twin brothers, we go out of our way to support each other, especially during the difficult times, which has helped us through pressurized situations.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
What’s next for you in the i420….. Goals?
Justin Callahan: We are looking forward to competing at our next event on President’s Day Weekend, here in Miami.
What’s next for you in sailing after the i420?
Mitchell Callahan: We are also heavily involved in the Club 420, and we look forward to doing that circuit again this summer. But prior to that, we really love high school sailing, the format and the ability to spend a lot of time with our teammates and competitors. We will do the best we can, as we would like to build on where we finished last year, which was 4th in the country, in our freshman year. It is very fun for us, because both of us can drive a boat, and we really enjoy training new crew to become high-performance sailors.
In the end, as competitive as this regatta was, one team checked all these boxes nearly to perfection, and dominated the regatta, winning 6 of the 9 races with no finish worse than 6th. Congratulations to Mitchell and Justin Callahan, sailing in their home waters, for a very impressive and well-polished performance.
2020 I-420 NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP REGATTA
- 55620, Justin Callahan/Mitchell Callahan, Outfit Sailing, 1-3-1-1-1-1--4-1- ; 13
- 56364, Vanessa LAHRKAMP/Katherine McNamara, AmericanYC/LISOT, [38/DNF]-12-5-9-3-2-7-1-3- ; 42
- 56344, Lachlain McGranahan/Emery Diemar, Outfit Sailing, 4-2-2-2-4-16-12-[38/DNF]-2- ; 44
- 55175, Will Michels/Spencer Kriegstein, LISOT, 3-4-3-3--3-15-8-9- ; 48
- 56341, Thomas Hall/Mariner Fagan, Annapolis Yacht Club, 2-1-6-4-5-6-19-10-- ; 53
- 55876, Peter Foley/Audrey Foley, CRYC/LISOT, 7-8-13-5-13--2-11-4- ; 63
- 56343, Cordelia Burn/Sarah Moeder, BHYC/Outfit Sailing, 16-[38/UFD]-10-6-2-5-3-23-5- ; 70T
- 56616, Danny Hughes/Maddie Hughes, Outfit Sailing/ CRYC, 6-9--15-19-4-5-5-7- ; 70T
- 56466, Liam O’Keefe/Libby Redmond, Outfit Sailing, -7-8-12-10-9-1-12-14- ; 73
- 56279, Thomas Rice/Michaela O’Brien, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, -6-16-7-16-10-4-15-6- ; 80
- 56109, Hannah Freeman/Francesca EDMANDS, Old Cove Yacht Club, 13-11-7-14-11-8-17-2-- ; 83
- 56033, Mason STANG/Timmy Gee, Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation, 5-14-15-11-[38/UFD]-7-26-7-8- ; 93
- 53656, Micky MUNNS/Tyler Wood, KHYC / BUDS, [38/DNF]-38/UFD-4-8-6-14-10-3-18- ; 101
- 55998, Ben Honig/Connor Fischetti, Lisot/Old Cove Yacht Club, 14-10-9-10-17-11-16-16-- ; 103T
- 55317, Trevor Davis/Will Cornell, Oyster Bay 470/Severn Sailing Association, 11/SCP-19-11-18-[38/UFD]-12-9-13-10- ; 103T
- 56366, Victoria CHISARI/Sophia Fogarty, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, 20/SCP-5-14-17-12-[38/UFD]-8-20-11- ; 107
- 55447, Jacqueline Quirke/Gwendolyn Donahue, AYC/LISOT, 19-16-12-13-14-23-18-21-- ; 136
- 55616, Madeleine Rice/Chloe Hudgins, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, 11-15-17-20-[38/UFD]-15-24-9-28- ; 139
- 55116, Haru Masumoto/Nicky Abate, LISOT, 30-20-25-[38/UFD]-8-20-14-18-19- ; 154T
- 56945, Thomas Sitzmann/Robby Meek, Sail1Design, 15-21-19-16-24-22-[38/UFD]-22-15- ; 154T
- 55173, Parker Tyson/Laurel Tyson, Outfit Sailing, 25--23-19-15-26-13-24-13- ; 158
- 56555, Chiara Bruzzi/Ella Marsden, LISOT, 28-23-22-24-23-[38/UFD]-23-14-12- ; 169
- 56545, Kurt Stuebe/Margot Gordon, Belle Haven Club/LISOT, 29-28--30-20-18-11-6-30- ; 172T
- 55901, John Wood/Brianna Ross, CRYC, 23/SCP-26-18-25-22-13-28--17- ; 172T
- 56949, Sophia Devling/Alexandria Stauffer, Balboa Yacht Club, 21-25--29-7-17-22-30-23- ; 174
- 56715, Kyra Phelan/Sophia Browne, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, 22-24-21-26-21-[38/UFD]-20-17-25- ; 176
- 53899, Connor Bennett/Ted McDonough, SFYC, 13/SCP-18-26-23-[38/UFD]-27-27-25-21- ; 180
- 56652, Alec Van Kerckhove/Dylan Murphy, Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation, 9-17-30-22-25-30-21-27-[38/UFD]- ; 181
- 56365, Margaux Cowles/Henry Allgeier, Larchmont Yacht Club / LISOT, 24-31-[38/DNF]-38/UFD-9-24-29-19-27- ; 201
- 2, Jack Murphy/Tatem Gee, Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation/LISOT, 17-13-24-28-26-31-30-34-[38/UFD]- ; 203
- 56205, Ben Mowatt/John Mowatt, Rothesay Yacht Club, [38/DNF]-32-27-21-29-29-25-28-16- ; 207
- 56129, Ellie Harned, Pine Lake/Lisot, 29/SCP-22-20-27-31-25-31--31- ; 216
- 54066, Declan QUIRKE/Will Stork, AYC/LISOT, [38/DNF]-27-28-31-27-21-33-26-29- ; 222
- 5917, Nico Garcia-Castrillon/Aidan Weirich, CRYC, 27-30-[38/DNS]-38/DNS-30-28-32-32-38/UFD- ; 255
- 56266, Ava Hurwitz/Natalie Fear, American YC / LISOT, [38/DNF]-38/DNF-32-38/UFD-28-38/UFD-34-29-38/UFD- ; 275
- 55618, Brooks TURCOTTE/Brendan O Conner, scyc/lima, [38/DNF]-38/DNF-38/DNF-38/DNS-38/UFD-38/UFD-35-31-38/DNF- ; 294
37. 56034, Jack Redmond/Thommie Grit, Outfit Sailing, [38/DNC]-38/DNS-38/DNS-38/DNC-38/DNC-38/DNC-38/DNC-38/DNC-38/DNC- ; 304