The Oklahoma City Boat Club hosted 15 teams for the 2021 VX ONE North American Championship on September 23-25 in Oklahoma City, OK. The event was originally to be held in Toronto, ON but was moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with travel concerns and a date change translating to a smaller event than in the past.
Racing was on Lake Hefner just outside of downtown Oklahoma City and provided challenging conditions throughout the event.
Flat water and puffy conditions greeted the fleet for day 1 of the championship regatta. With 12-16kts of breeze from the south, race committee was able to set a 1 mile course and begin racing on time. Race 1 went off without a hitch and the fleet split evenly upwind until a noticeable shift favored the teams on the right side.
Race 2 looked very similar to the first race and the shifty conditions allowed teams in the back unique opportunities to fight towards the top. This also meant that teams leading had to have their heads out of the boat, looking for wind further up the course. It was nearly impossible to call the shifts. The breeze dropped on course left during the third race, and a majority of the fleet pulled out gybe sets to head towards better pressure. Once again, the fleet inverted a few times before finishing.
Race 4 saw the lightest breeze of the day, with teams transitioning to a low mode whenever possible to consolidate their gains downwind. With the wind velocity back up, the first general recall of the regatta happened during the fifth and final race of the day. Once the fleet was off the line, the course had the most consistent pressure of the day but still very shifty.
Chris Alexander established his spot on the top of the leaderboard early, reaching the podium in all five races and winning two of them.
The second day of racing was very similar to the first but boasted more pressure. With only four races allowed for the day, racing went quick and seamless. Teams that didn’t start well were always afforded an opportunity to come back with the shifts. After nine races, Alexander still led the pack by 7pts.
With a weather forecast looking skeptical for the final day of racing, race committee started quickly and a maximum of three races were allowed. The hope was to beat the dying breeze but unfortunately that was not the case as just one race was completed in the 5-7kt easterly.
Chris Alexander with North Sails Expert John Bowden and 12 year old Noah Cina took home the North American Champion title. This is the third time Alexander has won the trophy and the second time with Bowden. In second was Larry Frost and Jackson Benvenutti, followed by Kaitlyn Liebel and crewed by Mark Liebel and Jordan Wiggins. Kaitlyn Liebel was also awarded Top Female Skipper and Noah Cina was awarded Top Youth Participant.
The 2022 VX ONE North Americans will be in September at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Torornto, ONT.