By Ted Decyk
Photos by Fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo
This August brought the 93rd Atlantic Nationals to Niantic Bay Yacht Club in Niantic, CT. The Atlantic, a 30-foot Starling Burgess design primarily built by Cape Cod Shipbuilding in Wareham, MA, loves the wind, but as we know, the dog days of summer in Connecticut can deny us a breeze and that’s exactly what happened on day one. The 23-boat fleet and crew sat at the dock telling stories, hoping a breeze would kick up. While they did eventually head out on the racecourse, Race 1 was soon abandoned and the fleet returned to shore.
Day two was blessed with wind, and lots of current. As the skippers gathered their crews and traditional bagged lunches to head out at 9:30 am, they knew it would be a long day. The race committee set them up with three races and the boats didn’t return to the dock until 6:30 pm. A long day on the water, but at the end of it, Scott Reichhelm’s A-142 Shucks of Cedar Point Yacht Club sat at the top of the leaderboard finishing twice in second and once in third, David Peck’s A-130 Miss April from Niantic Bay YC was in second place with two first place finishes and an eighth while defending Nationals champion Steve Benjamin in A128 Cassidy, representing Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, was in third place with two fourth place finishes and a second. Many more were in pouncing distance.
The final day of racing started at 10:30 am with hopes of getting in two races. The Sailing Instructions allows each skipper to throw out his worst finish if the fleet sails at least five of the six races scheduled over the three days. This allows for many moves in the leaderboard and the fifth race to become a true champions race.
The first race of day three finished with Bill Healy’s A-65 Challenger II (NBYC) taking first place. As mentioned, the fifth race was going to be key with the availability of the throwout rule. In fact, going into race 5, any one of five boats could mathematically win the series!
In the end, Bill Healy clinched his third Atlantic Nationals title as a skipper. Dave Peck finished second followed by Scott Reichhelm, Steve Benjamin and Jeff Shay’s A-147 Papa (NBYC) in third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Coincidentally, Bill was a crewmember for Dave Peck in 1987 at age 17 and again in 2019 when he won the Nationals, and in 1994 crewing for his brother Tim Healy.
There is a true passion at Niantic Bay Yacht Club for Atlantic racing, and the fleet has a very impressive record in the Nationals going back many generations. Congratulations to Bill Healy and his crew, daughters Caroline and Kristen and cousin Art Landry, on their 2022 National Championship! ■