The largest fleet of Solings at a North American Championship in over 10 years sailed a seven-race series last weekend at Valcour Island Sailing Club

The largest fleet of Solings at a North American Championship in over 10 years – 22 boats from the Midwest, the East Coast, and Canada – sailed seven races in strong winds on beautiful Lake Champlain last weekend hosted by Valcour Island Sailing Club.

Although the top six in the final standings dominated the racing, a number of others – including Milwaukee’s Steve Dolan, who won race seven – regularly interrupted that dominance.

On day 1 in a 20-25 knot southerly – the strongest wind in which much of the fleet had ever raced – Peter Hall led Franzell, Abbott, and Kamps to the finish line in the first race while Galloway and Walker struggled with gear failures. In Race 2 Galloway took off from the starboard end, hit a couple of shifts, and motored away to the biggest lead of the series; Abbott was second and Hall was third.

On the second day, in the lightest wind of the regatta, Abbott, Walker and Galloway fought for the lead with Abbott winning (despite a huge shift at the finish) and Walker edging Galloway for second. Later in the day in Race 4 in a 12 knot shifty north-easterly Galloway escaped again to edge Abbott, Franzell, and Walker.

In the fifth race on Saturday in a 15-18 knot northerly Abbott and Walker pulled away from the fleet and fought up and down the five legged, windward/leeward course. But once again Abbott, sailing with two neophytes to Solings (one a middle-aged woman who had volunteered at the last moment!) was uncatchable. In the 6th race, in slightly less air, Dave Franzell passed Walker (who had led the second round) and nosed out Peter Hall to finish just ahead of Galloway, Walker, and Abbott. The stage was set for the finale with Abbott at 12 points, Galloway, Hall, and Franzell tied at 16, and Walker just astern at 18.

In the 18 knot oscillating north-westerly Steve Dolan rounded the first weather mark in the lead with Hall, Abbott, Galloway, and Walker just astern and almost overlapped. Franzell and Kamps trailed, Dolan, playing every shift to perfection, pulled away and the four contenders jockeyed, upwind and down for the slightest advantage. As they rounded the final leeward mark overlapped, Abbott was second, Hall 3rd, Galloway 4th, and Walker 5th.

In a slight veer Galloway, and then Hall, tacked to the left and Abbott covered, while Walker and Kamps, looking for the big veers that had been present earlier, headed right, out into the lake. Although, as they closed the starboard layline, one arrived, Walker and Kamps were unable to catch Dolan or Abbott, but they crossed Galloway, Hall and Franzell to finish 3rd and 4th.

Abbott – who has not lost a Soling series since winning the World Championship – won the series with 14 points, 7 points ahead of Galloway and Walker, tied for second at 21, closely followed by Hall at 22, Franzell at 23, and Kamps at 25.