2009 Shark Catamaran Nationals
August 6-9, Put-in-Bay, Ohio
The Put-in-Bay Yacht Club of Put-in-Bay, Ohio hosted the 2009 Shark Catamaran
National Championships on the emerald-green waters of western Lake
Erie in three days of great wind and almost great weather.
The Shark is the oldest, active class of catamarans still in existence.
The British-designed cat made its first appearance in the United States
in the very early 60s when Olympian Reg White and Designer Rod MacAlpine
Downey made a tour, showing off this great boat.
Amazingly, the class has held together better than some of the boats
did. Many of the boats in the class have been rebuilt as there was no
builder for many years. Now, they are built out of wood using the WEST
System epoxy and they are stunningly beautiful. Rick White, whose first
catamaran was a Shark, asked when he first saw these gorgeous wood boats, “Where
is the keyboard.., it looks like a Grand Piano?”
One would think that the class must be made up of a bunch old coots,
but you had better think again. Indeed, there are some old sailors, but
there are a good many youngsters both crewing and skippering. In fact,
two teenage boys won two races and placed second overall. They are the
youngest to ever accomplish either feat.
When the RC first set the course up on the first the winds were a nice,
steady 10 mph. While there were very few wind shifts, the wind did
slowly start to lay down. By the end of the 2nd race it was turning
into a drifter for the folks in the back of the pack. There was a time
limit of 30 minutes after the first boat finished, and the last boat
eked it out with 5 minutes to spare.
After the first day of racing it was very close scores with Bryan and
Christina Perrin just one point ahead of George Braddon and Sue Bennett,
who were one point ahead of Jerry Pattenaude and Christina Couch. And
the competition was deep, as there were 6 previous National or North
American Champions competing.
On the second day of races, two more races were scheduled. Bryan and
Christina took a 2 and a bullet in winds that steadily hung around 6-8
mph all day. Pattenaude/Couch moved into second place with a bullet and
A warm front rolled through the area on the last day of sailing, bringing
southerly winds of 15-20 mph winds with a few gusts to 24 mph. This was
when the two teenage boys, Eric Perrin and Patrick Turbett, got it all
together, taking first in both races and moving them up into second place
overall in the standings.
Meanwhile Pattenaude/Couch broke their boom while jibing at the reaching
mark and had to limp back to port. That dropped them out of the money
to 6th place overall. Braddon and Bennett broke a centerboard on the
way to the race course, but held on just enough to still hold on to 3rd
Betty Bliss, a Shark North American Champ in the 60s and Women’s
Hobie 18 World Champ was sailing with Jim Hirtreiter, who had just bought
the boat and had never sailed a catamaran before. They had rigging and
rudder troubles from the start, but each race they got better and better,
and finished closing, but in 7th place.
There was a great dinner served for the awards party, and Christina Perrin
was the emcee, ably assisted by Rick White, who had been operating
the Mark Boat. First place overall went to Bryan and Christina Perrin,
who are the first team to ever win the Nationals 4 times in a row.
The record before that was three wins in a row.
During the awards, special wooden plaques were given to Kay Drake, PRO,
Mark Scarpelli, who supplied the RC Boat, a 36' CSK catamaran, and to
Rick White, Mark Boat. Thanks were given to Steve Abbey, who supplied
the Mark Boat, Dick Bliss, Tom Rupp, and Hella and Steve who all worked
hard to make the races run smoothly.
Here are some pictures we were able to capture on the course:
Chirstina and Bryan Perring sailing downwind
Jerry Pattenaude and teenager, Christina Couch
Sue Bennett and George Braddon
The winning Perrins
The top three shots are of John Sherry, many times past-National Champ
Jerry Pattenaude and Christina Couch in the lead at the leeward mark
The last two are of Jim Hirtreiter crewing on his boat for past-North American
Champ, Betty Bliss