Conor Ruppen Takes Top Honors at 2016 Highlander Nationals
by Tom Dawson
Conor Ruppen of Berlin Yacht Club is the 2016 National Champion of the Highlander Fleet. Conor and his crew, Carrie Patterson and Joyce Spring, sailed like champions and ran away from the competition at Highlander Nationals held at Indian Lake, Ohio, from July 16 to 21, 2016.
Conor sailed Highlander 1959, which is owned by BYC Members Rob and Joyce Spring. As you may know, Conor is primarily a Thistle sailor, and he had only skippered a Highlander one time before Nationals. Conor praised his crew, stating that they did a fantastic job of playing the vang, calling the shifts, and watching the compass while he drove the boat.
Wind conditions were challenging at Highlander Nationals this year, with moderate winds on Monday, no wind Tuesday, very light and shifting winds Wednesday, and 8 to 10 knots of breeze on Thursday with shifty winds gusting to 18 knots. Conor explained that the Highlander has a big mainsail so it is very important to de-power the sail when necessary to sail fast. He said that Joyce Spring “made his job easy” with her excellent sail trim using the boom vang as needed.
Despite the challenging weather conditions, Conor and his crew turned in an amazingly successful performance in a strong field of 23 Highlanders. They won all three races on Monday, easily qualifying for the championship fleet. “We had low expectations on Monday,” Conor said, “but it got kind of tense after that because we were not expecting to be there [first place].”
Conor’s team had a 7th place finish on Wednesday, in light air with the wind filling in at different places around the race course. Thursday brought better wind and finishes of 2nd, 3rd, and 1st on the last day of racing. According to Conor, the last race of the regatta was a “photo finish” with the second place finisher in the regatta, and “it was a great way to finish the regatta.”
The nearest competitor scored 18 points overall to Conor’s 9 points, including one throwout score per Highlander National Rules. It is worth noting, however, that even if Conor’s worst score, a 7, were included in the 7 race series, Conor, Carrie and Joyce would still have won the regatta! This was truly a dominant performance.
With this achievement, Conor has joined the ranks of past Highlander National Champions and BYC Members John Bauer and Rob Spring. Berlin Yacht Club was also honored at the 2016 Highlander Nationals with the award for the club with the most traveling Highlanders. BYC Members John Bauer and Rick Myers also competed in the 2016 Highlander Nationals.
Conor pointed out that the 2017 Highlander Nationals will likely be at or near Berlin Lake, and he encouraged all BYC members to help with next year’s Highlander Nationals and to seek out opportunities so sail on a Highlander, which he described as a really fun boat to sail.
Berlin Yacht Club is a sailing club located in North Benton, Ohio, on beautiful Berlin Lake. We are a casual, family-friendly organization. Sailors from all walks of life, ages 8 to 80, participate in activities at Berlin Yacht Club. These activities include sailboat races, day sailing, cover dish dinners on Sunday after sailing, open house Discover Sailing Days, Junior Sail Camp, picnics and more. The club has been in continuous existence for over 65 years.
Sailboat races are held on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. Our sailing season runs from late April though Labor Day. We meet on Wednesday nights at the launch area around 6:00 p.m. and races start on the water at 7:00 p.m. Hot dogs and other refreshments are served after Wednesday night sailing at the clubhouse. We meet on Sunday afternoons at the launch area around 1:00 p.m., and races start on the water on the water at 2:00 p.m. Members gather at the clubhouse after sailing on Sunday for a cover dish dinner and social time with the other members.
Click the "Join Us" link for information about member benefits and how to become a member of Berlin Yacht Club.
Little Berlin Yacht Club did it again. On Father’s Day weekend we hosted 38 boats at our annual regatta, including 16 Flying Scots, 9 Thistles, 9 Single-handed, and 4 Highlanders. The club went all out in hospitality starting on the Friday night before the regatta and breakfast Saturday morning. Visitors from as far away as western Michigan and Illinois made the trek to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control lake in northeastern Ohio.
The races were scheduled to begin at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, but someone forgot to alert the wind. Little shafts of air that didn’t always show up on the water slowly moved the boats across the water. At first in the Thistle fleet there were a few changes of the lead, but Ron Fiedler with crew Barry Leven found one of those shafts on the far right side and rode it all the way to the windward mark without having to tack.They ended up finishing about 20 minutes before anyone else. One shorted race was enough for the afternoon. (Of course the wind came up about ten minutes after the Race Committee sent us in for the day.)
Saturday evening included an hors d’oeuvres buffet, folk music entertainment by Lisa Miller, and watching the more than 20 little ones in the playground who accompanied their sailing parents.
Sunday had actual wind for us to use and the race committee was able to get off 3 races before noon. The big decision each leg was which way to go around the closed start/finish line on the modified windward/leeward course. Consistency ruled the day and put Kyle Finefrock in an easy lead. Ben France was held back by a mid-fleet finish in Saturday’s drifter. Father’s Day made no difference as Kyle finished ahead of his father, Jack in each race, although by only one place in 3 of the 4 races.
Thanks go to the members of Berlin Yacht Club for putting on a great event, especially to organizer Ken Miller and Race Committee Chief, Gary Steinbach. Get it on your schedule for Father’s Day weekend next year.
Check out the information on the Junior Page.
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