Brangman makes light work of maiden title
Dale Brangman was the toast of the East End Mini Yacht Club and rightfully so after capturing a maiden Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race title in convincing fashion yesterday.
Brangman and crew Tajahri Rogers led the entire way before crossing the finish line in St George’s Harbour several boat lengths ahead of runner-up and club stablemate Stevie Dickinson and his crew, Pat Young.
“This is biggest trophy you can possibly win in the Comet class and it’s the 75th anniversary of this race, so it feels very good to win this,” an elated Brangman said.
“I ended up getting a very good start close to the committee boat end and led from start to finish. I just tried to stay out in front in clean air and my crew, Tajahri, did an excellent job.”
Brangman played the wind shifts superbly to maintain superior boatspeed on the run down the North Shore.
Dickinson, who has won the race a record 20 times, made up considerable ground on the short reach and beat near the finish, but it ultimately proved too little, too late, as Brangman shut the door tight.
“Going through the [Town] Cut, it was a little dicey,” Brangman added. “A lot of races are won and lost through the Cut, and I just wanted to get through there.
“Once I got out of the Cut, it was just all about trying to cover Stevie and stay in between him and the mark and we had a good enough lead and managed to sneak it out.”
Brangman’s 12-year-old crew, Rogers, was equally delighted to have been on the winning boat on his race debut.
“This was my first time competing in this race and it feels really nice to finish first,” the Whitney Institute Middle School student said.
Dickinson believes the light air conditions played in Brangman’s favour.
“I wind him down a little bit when the breeze came up,” the former CAC Games medal-winner said. “But as soon as the wind dropped out a little bit, he ended up walking away again.
“I am guessing that he is maybe 30-40 pounds lighter than us, but in that light stuff that’s what you want. You want a light crew and light everything, and a little puff of breeze and the boat goes.
“I am so proud of Dale, who has worked hard on his sailing. He has always been a fair sailor and now he is getting up with the big boys.
“He knows what’s happening now and just has to do the finer things. Once he does, he is going to be a pain in the neck, for sure.”
Malcolm Smith and crew Damien Payne, the defending champions, rounded off the podium in third. “Overall, it was a good finish for us,” Smith, the multiple world sunfish champion, said.
“Our start wasn’t the best of starts, but I’m happy with third.”
Organised by the West End Sail Boat Club, the annual Long Distance Comet Race is traditionally regarded as the most prestigious race in the class.