It’s Yuu (reprise article from June 3, 2008)

 

It’s Yuu

(This article was originally published on SLSailing.com on June 3rd, 2008)

Over the past six weeks of Fizz Cup sailing, we’ve all watched as nearly 6 dozen sailors competed in hundreds of races spread over four large sailing communities. The size and global expanse of the competition truly merits the title of “World Fizz Cup.”

So much great sailing took place, that I fear many truly great races got blurred in memory as soon as the next start gun went off. One took place this past Sunday morning, in the semi-final match up of Stuart Choche, Yuu Nakamichi and Takeshi Schnyder.

semi finalists_028

All three skippers are truly excellent sailors and each had repeatedly proved it through the relentless series of qualifying matches that earned them a berth in the Gold cup Semi’s, which makes what happened all the more astonishing.

The semi-final races were in “expert” mode, demanding a high degree of technical proficiency from the skippers. The race was even more challenging, however, since the competition used a new course released just a few days before the race; the skippers had little chance to practice. Under those incredibly stressful conditions, Yuu Nakamichi proved flawless and overpowering in the matchup. His amazing performance not only won him a place in the Gold Cup Final… in my opinion it raised the level of serious Fizz competition for all future sailing.

FFCB3

But let’s back up a bit… That outcome wasn’t yet evident when the start gun went off in the first race. Stuart Choche actually led the pack off the line in Race One, crossing at +00:02, with Yuu two seconds behind him, and Takeshi bringing up the rear with +00:06. Takeshi had momentum, however and pulled ahead of Yuu into the middle spot behind Stuart as they continued on the first leg.

To reach the green mark however, the three boats needed to beat to windward and try to make a mark in only two tacks. In third position, Yuu made a daring move; he broke early from the pack, tacking south toward green by pinching windward on starboard. That bold gambit proved brilliant, as Yuu rounded the first marker well ahead of his competition. I was standing next to joepie Korobase for much of the race; joepie won the Silver Cup and will race for the Gold on June 8. As the crowd on the platform gave out a huge shout and people exclaimed “He must have a jet engine!” joepie smiled and cooly observed “(He) just sailed closer to the wind.”

yuu tacks early_035

Yuu never looked back, extending his lead to what joepie called a “comfortable‘ margin as he made it around the rest of the course. Yuu’s finish time was 04:34, a full thirty-six seconds ahead of Stuart, and more than a minute ahead of Takeshi! Mothgirl Dibou couldn’t hold back, exclaiming “YAY!!!! Thats how to sail this boat!!!!“ Joepie remained a bit more reserved as she continued to size up her possible opponent for the finals… “Big differences” she concluded.

Soro ponders 00:00 startIn the second race, Yuu had a perfect start, crossing the line with a valid +00:00. Takeshi was on his heels with a +00:02 start, but Yuu was unstoppable. He relentlessly expanded his lead over the other boats, ending with a +04:17 finish, a full half minute ahead of Takeshi, and the fasted run by any of the six semi-finalists in the ten races on FFCB3 that day.

Takeshi and Stuart then rose to the occasion in Race #3, with the best start I’ve ever seen in SLSailing. It may be worth commenting that I’ve made a few posts here and in the Forum about pre-start tactics, noting that Fizz racers used them less than Tako skippers in my experience. Liv Leigh replied that, for a variety of reasons, she thought an aggressive start in a Fizz could be “suicidal.” Well, sportsfans, Race #3 began with Yuu and Takeshi simultaneously hitting the line at exactly +00:00, and both starts were valid. Stuart was hardly more conservative, crossing at +00:01!!! It’s mind-boggling to consider the skill (and, frankly, audacity) it takes to get a valid +00:00 start in such a high stakes race… but in this case two of the skippers did it… and Yuu in fact even did it in back-to-back races.

Stuart and Takeshi lead at green

Stuart and Takeshi played the first half of Race #3 well; they stayed in front of Yuu on the first leg. Yuu again tried to tack early and beat them to the Green Mark, but the lead boats had learned their lesson and timed the tack wisely. First Stuart, then Takeshi rounded the green with Yuu two boat lengths astern.

That wouldn’t last long, however. Yuu relentlessly inched forward, and by the far mark was again in control. Takeshi fought back with strength and determination, but Yuu was unstoppable. In his worst performance of the day, Yuu finished first with 05:14, a scant four seconds ahead of Takeshi.

double zero start_034

Race #4 was again amazing, but for a totally different reason. Just as the boats reached the start line, a powerboat came onto the course, cutting right in front of the racers. Stuart was closest to the griefing boat and ended up over-early; Takeshi however remained steadfast, slicing the line AGAIN at +00:00. Yuu held back with all the confusion, crossing at +00:06. Despite the slow start, however, Yuu relentlessly pushed forward. Continuing the pattern set in the prior races, he gained the lead while reaching for the far mark and built on it on the Run home to Hollywood. He finished with +04:46, again twenty-three seconds in front of Takeshi.

The Fifth and final race was a tribute to all three sailors. They crossed the line together with a mere one second separation, and for much of the first leg the three boats sailed in tandem, with Stuart and Takeshi holding Yuu sandwiched between them. It couldn’t last though, and Yuu finally broke out into clean air, taking the green mark in front of the other boats and never giving up the lead again. The race was wonderful to watch, however. Those of us on the deck saw all three boats appear on the horizon at the same time with their spinnakers flying and Yuu in the lead. It was a triumphant, confident lap for three of the best skippers in SLSailing.

Final return romp_072

Yuu’s incredible perfomance won him a spot in the Finals on June 8, where he’ll race against Kei Cioc and joepie Korobase for the Gold Cup.

As we watched Yuu’s semi-final scores add up, I turned to the person next to me at the viewing box rail and said “Joepie? You should be worried…
With no hesitation she laughed and shot back: “Why? Girls are better sailors! EVERYBODY know that!

12 responses: ↓

  • 1 Bea Woodget // Jun 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I love this article… Thank you so much Jane, all races remind to my mind when i read it….like a movie… and it is also a nice way to get the pressure increasing…
    I have to be impartial… but girls are….. lol
    Go Yuu, Go Joepie, Go Kei, the most important is to enjoy the spectators, and remember you will be SL Sailing representatives on SLCN Sail on …

  • 2 Liv Leigh // Jun 3, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    One remark:
    “The race was even more challenging, however, since the competition used a new course released just before the race; the skippers had no chance to practice.”
    That’s a mistake Jane… The course map was released a week in advance and I have observed those skippers all week training this course. they had every chance to study it’s finest details.

    I was sailing there as well and I know from first hand Yuu did a thorough job in his training. He made sure he managed the course very well. That paid off.

  • 3 jane fossett // Jun 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you Liv! Wow, you are fast!
    Yuu contacted me about that point soon as I posted the article, and I made the correction.
    You are right, I got my races confused… the semi-final skippers did have the FFC3 chart about a week in advance.
    In tribute to Bea’s superb organization for Fizz 2008, I can also tell you that the timing for the charts wasn’t arbitrary. Two months ago at Bea’s suggestion her Planning Committee had a discussion about exactly when to hand those charts out…
    As I remember, people thought that giving the charts out months in advance would favor a skipper who either maniacally overtrained or used the time to figure how to ‘game’ that race course in some fashion.
    Giving the charts out one or two days ahead might also be unwise, as it might unfairly disadvantage skippers whose real-life schedules made it hard to find practice time during the brief window before the match.
    As I recall, the consensus recommendation was to either release new charts a week ahead (so everyone had a chance to get some practice in) or to release charts immediately before the race (so nobody could practice).
    Of course, the ultimate decision about that issue, and everything else about the Cup, rested with Bea. I’m just pointing out an example of the huge amount of work Bea did behind the scenes… It’s made the World Fizz Cup something remarkable.
    Without question, World Fizz 2008 is Bea Woogett’s Cup; but through her energy, enthusiasm, humor and hard work… she has made it all of SL Sailing’s Cup.

  • 4 jane fossett // Jun 3, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Liv commented: “I was sailing there as well and I know from first hand Yuu did a thorough job in his training. He made sure he managed the course very well. That paid off.”

    Smile.
    Yeah. I know, it’s really unfair.
    All the luck and talent seems to go to those people who work the hardest…

  • 5 MarkTwain White // Jun 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Between filming 4 quarter gold matches, 2 semi gold matches, and a golf tournament this past weekend I have more computer files than the FBI. But, boy, and I going to enjoy editing THESE videos.

    Too bad its too big a pain to have Jane do live commentary that could be recorded. Excellent job Jane, I just hope the video of the above does your commentary justice.

  • 6 joepie // Jun 4, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Great article Jane,
    And i loved watching the cup races!
    EXITING stuff(woooot) i’m very sorry its allmost over

    xxx

  • 7 stuart choche // Jun 4, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Jane, thanks for this lovely words I will show my grandchildren….
    it was funny to see almost all quarter finalists do practising the semi final course instead of her next business :-P. They all must have been very confident… And actually the morning before we were all six of us doing a fleet race over that brilliant course. Well, in quite better conditions than in the semis. I enjoyed every second.

    cheers

  • 8 Liv Leigh // Jun 4, 2008 at 3:41 am

    “Smile.
    Yeah. I know, it’s really unfair.
    All the luck and talent seems to go to those people who work the hardest…”

    LOL Jane. We have all spent hours on that course on weekdays. I made this remark to state that the races you saw are the product of hard training work on the course. I’m sure joepie’s cool reaction comes from that knowledge. She knows this boat and her competition very well.

  • 9 Bea Woodget // Jun 4, 2008 at 5:51 am

    The french press covers the event too:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080803210719/http://slmag.fr/secondlife/?p=519

    PS: Reading your comments pay be back for all my efforts… Thank you all

  • 10 Bea Woodget // Jun 5, 2008 at 10:27 am

    It happened today at SYC:

    [6:42] Start Line (051908): 1: Liv Leigh – +00:04:20
    [6:42] Start Line (051908): 2: Yuu Nakamichi – +00:04:29

    [7:01] Start Line (051908): 1: Bea Woodget – +00:04:56
    [7:01] Start Line (051908): 2: Yuu Nakamichi – +00:04:56

    Ok ok ok Yuu won 3 others races… but hey Joepie, hey Kei, you can do it!

  • 11 Vin Mariani // Jun 5, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Sailing isn’t the only extraordinary skill on display in this article, Jane. Your commentary is richly factual without being dense, illuminating every nuance of these races for those of us less discerning, while also conveying the thrill of the competition and the amazing mastery of the contestants. And all in only 1100 words. Wow! I honestly think this is the best sports article I’ve ever read and I wish RL journalists would keep a copy handy and just try to do as well as you’ve done. Bravo, Jane.

  • 12 Orca Flotta // Jun 6, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Yuu = uses Zen power for extraordinary sailing skills.
    Jane = uses Zen power for extraordinary writing skills.

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