2019 Six-Metre Worlds Begin at Hanko in Range of Winds

The 2019 World Championship got going in Hanko, Finland, on Monday with 33 Classics on the starting line, more than double the 15 Open division Six Metres. There is a big Finnish contingent, well over half of the Classics fleet.

Lucie (white sails) heads upwind in a good breeze against Goose (US 81) and Marianne (GER 66). Jens Lange photo

Two races were held on Monday and two more on Tuesday, and Lucie showed excellent speed downwind but not as much upwind. In the first race, she did better in winds as low as 9 knots, finishing 9th in class.

Steep waves built up with a short period between them as winds rose as high as 18 knots, and skipper Craig Healy observed that some of the other boats sailed higher and faster upwind in that breeze. Good boat handling around crowded marks generally allowed Lucie to make up ground in maneuvers, and she finished 14th in the second race.

Spinnakers at 2019 Six-Metre Worlds
Lucie (US 55) showed excellent speed off the wind under spinnaker. Jens Lange photo

Winds were lighter on Tuesday, but with big holes and some shifts that resulted in a pair of mid-fleet finishes for Lucie. According to Craig, “The team started well again, and we were able to sail own race as on Monday. The venue is well-suited to host the regatta, both on and off the water. The wind is shifty, which presents us with opportunities as the week goes on.”

Ready to set spinnaker at world championships
Lucie negotiates the leg to the offset mark alongside Lillevi (GER 68) before setting her spinnaker in light going in Tuesday’s racing. Jens Lange photo

Racing continues Wednesday—results here.

Lucie Wins Annual Regatta

Four days of practice in April and three more in May set up Lucie’s crew for success at the 165th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta in June.

For the three-day regatta, Lucie was placed in the smaller of two divisions of Classic yachts, racing against Alana, Syce, and Cherokee, three other 6-Metres, plus a pair of Luders 24s, and Gamecock, a Herreshoff R 40. The series began with the traditional race around Conanicut Island in a strong westerly breeze, and as the photo shows, close reaching to the finish line, Lucie was laid over hard but still sailing fast. She finished second to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock, which has a longer waterline and legged out on the long reach to the finish.

US 55 Lucie close reaches toward the finish of the Around the Island Race in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta. Daniel Forster photo

In the two days of around-the-buoys racing that followed, the other 6-Metres were not a factor in the results due to breakdowns and retirements. Lucie competed closely with Chris Bouzaid’s Luders 24 Leaf but finished ahead in each race. Gamecock won a pair of races but Lucie was second each time, and the resulting 1-1-2-1-2 scoreline was decisive in favor of Lucie.

Evaluating the Lucie team’s performance, skipper Craig Healy said, “It’s more second nature sailing the boat now. We’ve come to grips with how to do the maneuvers using Lucie’s old-school winches and cleats.

“We still need more practice,” he added. “We never got around the leeward mark and said, ‘We took the kite down too early.’”

Tom Ducharme, John Hayes, Keith Stahnke, Isabelle du Moulin and Craig Healy (red jacket) sail Lucie downwind. Dan Nerney/NYYC Archives photo

Although the other 6-Metres had difficulties, Craig still felt the regatta was valuable for his team. “Keith Stahnke could choose laylines and work out how to deal with traffic,” Craig said. “That’s the whole point of a sailing in an event like this.”

Doyle Sails designer Glenn Cook sailed with the team the day before the regatta and supervised the review of two new mainsails, a heavy-air genoa, and a spinnaker. The consensus was that the sails were ready for action at the Worlds, and the team then put them away carefully and used older sails for the regatta .

Of the mainsails, Craig said, “Work on generating mast bend to be able to add sail area in the luff instead of the leech is paying off.”

Lucie, ready to travel to Hanko, Finland. Jens Lange photo

Following the regatta, Lucie was hauled and packed up for shipment to Europe for the World Championship in Finland. The team will follow and begin sailing her on July 31, with three days planned for final practice sessions before the regatta begins.

In the meantime, Craig and Tom Ducharme will get some more 6-Metre sailing time at the New York Yacht Club 175th Anniversary Regatta aboard a 1987 Ian Howlett design, Scoundrel. They will fly the St. Francis Yacht Club flag in that event as well as at the Worlds. “I don’t know how we will do at the Worlds,” said Craig, “but we’re giving it a good honest shot by being well prepared. We’ll be happy with how we carry ourselves, we’ll be competitive, and we’ll give it a good try.”

One of the trophies Lucie earned at the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta.

Spring Training Aboard Lucie

“We’re so lucky. On Day One, we had four knots to start, and up to 15 in the afternoon,” said Craig Healy, Lucie’s skipper. “That allowed us to go through the whole sail inventory.”

Lucie’s opening day of spring training started in 4 knots and ended with 15. Sailing photos by Jens Lange

In late April, Craig’s St. Francis Yacht Club team of John Hayes, Tom Ducharme, Isabelle du Moulin and Keith Stahnke arrived in Portsmouth, R.I., for four days of preparation and practice. Except for Keith, all had sailed Lucie at the 2018 6-Metre European Championship, and with two days of practice, finished 9th of 20 boats. This year, they are ready to take it up a notch as they head to the World Championship in Finland.

(From left) Craig Healy and John Hayes discuss sail inventory with Doyle’s USA Head of Design Glenn Cook and coach Ed Adams.

On that first day, with coach Ed Adams and Doyle Sailmakers’ Glenn Cook and Moose McClintock observing, the team set all of their sails—more than a dozen—then came ashore for a lengthy debrief. A 6-Metre can carry a wide variation of sails of different shapes, sizes, and weights, and discussion ranged widely, from mast bend and complementary mainsail luff curves to spinnaker shapes, stabilities, and cloth types.

Tom Ducharme goes up the mast to adjust tension on the runners.

Sailing in the 6-Metre’s Classic Division, Lucie’s mains and jibs are made of Dacron, which doesn’t hold its shape for long. It’s crucial, therefore, to choose the right sails and preserve them for the most important regattas.

On the last two days of practice, coach Wally Henry ran the team through lots of maneuvers and crewwork. Heavy, gusty winds on Saturday provided a good test, coupled with light winds on Sunday.

The team gets set for one of many mark roundings over four days in all winds.

“We did more than a dozen sets and takedowns on Sunday,” said Craig. “And we did our best to make it difficult for ourselves, with lots of jibe takedowns.”

Jens Lange, boat restoration expert at Baltic Boat Works and Lucie’s primary caretaker, spent the weekend in Lucie’s support boat. Jens had built a new wood mast for Lucie in 2018, and said, “This was the best test yet for the mast. The crew played with all the options—mast bend, stiffness, the jumpers. It was a better test than the Europeans because we took her out in 25 knots. The mast was fine, but my heart rate went up!”

One day, the breeze on Narragansett Bay piped up over 20 knots.

According to Craig, the crew will return at the end of May for three days of boathandling practice, sailing with one or two other 6 Metres. The California crew also plans to sail in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta before the boat is shipped to Europe for the championship regatta in the first week of August.