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2011 GT300 Wrap-Up

posted Jun 19, 2011, 7:17 PM by Ryan Verret   [ updated Jun 19, 2011, 8:12 PM ]

The fourth and final leg of the 2011 GT300, a short 40 nm from Surfside to Galveston, again saw race leaders John Tomko and Ian Billings on Team Ruff Rider dominate the F18 fleet, extending their lead and securing their position at the top of the podium in both the overall and F18 classes. The Nacra F20 Carbon monster, Team Zhik 1, actually beat them to the beach by over three minutes, but with the handicap factored in, Ruff Rider easily won the leg on corrected time. 

In the end, the F18s dominated the overall elapsed time trophy, taking the top 5 spots. Top finishers the F18 class and on total elapsed time were:
  1. Ruff Rider
  2. Monkey Business
  3. Quiksilver
  4. TCDYC
  5. Team Sailboat Shop
with the full results here. Starting an hour ahead of leg four of the GT was the one-day Dash race, designed to give beachcat sailors a taste of distance racing, recruiting more boats and sailors for next year's GT. The top three boats, which you might see flying their chutes in the 2012 GT were:
  1. White Cappin'
  2. Shock the Monkey
  3. It's Blowin' Chunks
While there were many predictions about the merits of the F18s in the reachy conditions for which the GT is known, versus the beamy power of the new Nacra F20 Carbons and the established track record of Dennis Banks' ARC22, in the end, the the F18s triumphed. The durability of these boats coupled with the preparation and seamanship of the sailors on them really proved to be the deciding factor, leaving the larger boats... broken.

Team Zhik 1 was the victim of some Unidentified Floating Object on day one, and despite their best efforts and lots of carbon and epoxy, didn't get their boat back to speed until the last day. Team Zhik 2, also on a F20 Carbon, faired even worse, capsizing in the surf and breaking their mast in two places on day three. And Team Cat Alley on their ARC22 pitchpoled on the first day, breaking their spinnaker pole, battens, and rear crossbeam, and ending their race.

All told, the 2011 GT300 saw close to $20,000 in boat damage, several not-insignificant (but not life threatening) injuries, and conditions leaving sailors timid, then exhausted. But it also saw some amazing performances, with teams persisting even in the face of these challenges, working all night to ready their boats for the next day of punishment. It saw Team Ruff Rider with an average VMG of over 15 knots, and an actual average boatspeed closer to 20! It saw many different boat designs, from the venerable Hobie Tigers and Nacra 20s to the cutting-edge AHPC C2s and Nacra F20 Carbons, advantages of each effectively cancelled out, with the quality of the sailor making the real difference. And in the end, it proved to reinforce the true spirit of the GT, with extreme conditions, competition, and camaraderie, which is what keeps those in the know coming back. So... will we see you at the 2012 GT?