wooden ships & iron men [Updated October 2003]  

2003 WBC Report     

 2004 Status: pending 2004 GM commitment

William Rohrbeck, NH

2002-2003 Champion

2nd: Arthur Davis, MI

3rd: Wade Fowble, MD

4th: Mark McCandless, LA

5th: Tim Hitchings, DE

6th: Michael Bergt, FL

Event History
1991    Jim Truit      23
1992    John Boisvert      29
1993    John Boisvert      36
1994    William Rohrbeck      28
1995    Larry York      21
1996    David Cross      16
1997    David Metzger      20
1998    Michael Brannaman      20
1999    Paul Risner       8
2000    David Cross     16
2001    Curtis Dietrich     26
2002    William Rohrbeck     23
2003    William Rohrbeck     27

Offsite links:

AREA Ratings


Rank Name


 1. William Rohrbeck


 2. Tim Hitchings


 3. Arthur Davis


 4. Larry York


 5. Curtis Dietrich


 6. Keith Hunsinger


 7. David Cross


 8. Wade Fowble


 9. Paul Risner


10. Mark McCandless


11. Stephen Field


12. Ed Majeski


13. Ron Glass


14. Michael Bergt


15. Joseph Abrams


16. Stuart Smart


17. Frank Czawlytko


18. Benoit Groulx



Past Winners

1991: Jim Truit - MA
1992-1993: John Boisvert, NJ

William Rohrbeck - NH
1994, 2002

Larry York - CA

David Cross - VA
1996, 2000

David Metzger - VA

Michael Brannaman - SC

Paul Risner - FL

Curtis Dietrich - FL

sailing, sailing ...

Wooden Ships and Iron Men drew 27 players, the highest since '94, to continue its comeback from near extinction in 1999. The flexibility of players to drop in and out whenever they want and the coaching of rookies continues to rebuild this classic. The event saw matches demonstrating the skill of veterans and the zeal of new players, some of whom hadn't even been born when the game was published.

In addition to the standard single ship actions and design-your-own squadron battles, players had the option of choosing from four historical scenarios to play.

Thirteen players sailed into Tuesday night's early bird special, the best showing for that heat since it began in 2001. The GM's wife, Katherine, and daughter, Verity, squared-rigged off with 28 gun brigs for the shortest WSM game in history. Verity's ship struck in five turns-- Mother knows best!

On Friday, eleven more players enlisted. Two former champions, Larry York and Dave Cross, crossed bowsprits with an American 44 gun frigate vs. a British 60 gun ship-of-the-line.

Saturday's fleet action was the crowd pleaser, drawing 14 players, including three who hadn't even played in the tournament up to that point.

The tournament leaders were seeded as admirals, Arthur Davis for the Turks and Bill Rohrbeck for the Russians. The scenario assumed the seizure of a Turkish port by Russian troops. The Russian goal was to resupply their forces with merchant ships, escorted by warships. To protect the port, the Russians mounted two shore batteries in redoubts, ably commanded by Paul Risner, at the harbor mouth.

The battle opened with a dash for the harbor channels by the Russian supply ships and frigates from the east and the Turkish frigates and 12 gun galley from the north. Despite harassing fire from the shore batteries, the Turks won the race and engaged the Russians in the initial volleys. Turkish captain Tim Hitchings slapped one of the leading supply ships with an early broadside, sending the supply ships scurrying for cover.

Not to be deterred, Russian frigate captain Wade Fowble pulled off the first coup of the day by capturing the hapless galley from Turkish Admiral Davis.

By this time, both sides' ships-of-the-line (SOL's) were bearing down on the battle. Despite early confusion in their formation, the Turks were able to shield their frigates from the heavier Russian battlewagons. Admiral Davis either bravely or foolishly anchored his 100 gun flagship astride the Russian advance and remained in the thick of the brawl throughout.

Davis' fortunes continue to seesaw, as his 32 gun corvette struck its colors to the heavy frigate of Russian Mark McCandless.

In the meantime, Turk Keith Hunsinger sailed his 64 gun SOL after Wade Fowble's frigate and the newly-captured galley. Not only did he recapture the galley, restoring its rowers to the Sultan's service, but he also captured Wade's frigate. Keith's initiative was the turning point of the battle.

Turkish morale was further heightened with the arrival of reinforcements commanded by Dave Schubert and Francis Czawlytko. Dave attracted one-too-many cannonballs from the 110 gun flagship of Russian Bill Rohrbeck, causing one of his 70 gun SOL's to explode. An observer spotted a Turkish sailor clinging to a floating mast, the only survivor.

Francis' ships began to pound a Russian 66 gun SOL which had unwisely sailed into a ring of Turkish ships, including Arthur Davis' flagship. Not to be outdone, Arthur captured the 66, giving the Turks a game-winning 60 to 54 point edge. The remaining Turks received a certificate of honor from the Sultan.

When the standings were calculated, Bill Rohrbeck and Arthur Davis emerged as the leaders.

In the final, Arthur commanded four American 74 gun SOL's, locking spars with Bill's British 120's and 84's. Arthur came out fighting for the wind, a strategy Bill usually uses to good effect. Bill, however, had changed his plan, sailing straight onto the board, yielding the wind to Arthur.

Catching the Americans off guard, Bill's Limeys opened fire at long range with a thunderous volley, resulting in severe rigging damage to Arthur's leading ships.

Arthur had the weather gauge with no way to take advantage of it. His lead ship tried to "cross the T" of Bill's rearward ship but the Brits used their greater mobility to move upwind and "cross the T" of Arthur's rear ship.

As British broadsides sent more masts crashing into the sea, the Americans began repairing rigging on a massive scale in the hope of regaining some speed.

Gradually, Arthur's rear ship moved within range to hit the British hulls, but received a volley so intense that fire broke out on deck. The ship's entire crew formed a bucket brigade that put the fire out in three turns. Bill put those turns of unanswered broadsides to good use and Arthur's ship began listing to port.

Thanks to rigging repairs, the other Americans engaged the British again. While this took some pressure off of Arthur's hapless rear ship, it was too late. The British had too much speed, too much firepower, and too good a position. One by one the American ships struck.

Bill sailed to glory for his third championship in the event. He also was awarded the soon-to-be-coveted Nelson Certificate to be framed and hung with his plaque. Despite losing the final, Arthur learned lessons which can be put to good use the next time. A newcomer in 2002, Arthur rose to be one of the event's solid competitors in just one year. Why not take him on in 2004?

 GM      Tim Hitchings  [2nd Year]   NA 
    hitchings@juno.com   NA

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