By Stephen Shumaker
The West Coast Championship, sailed in San Diego's South bay March 14-16, is the highlight of the regularly scheduled west coast regattas. This year was one of the best in recent years. The days were sunny, the water sort of warm (well, not cold) and the wind consistently fantastic, mostly in the 8 to 15 kt range. Although the fleet was smaller than usual, the competition was tight and competitive each and every race and the spread between the first and last boat was tight.
A few boats showed up for practice on Thursday, and enjoyed the great breeze to tune up. Once again, North Sails had a boat and video on hand to help the sailors tune up. Sailing great Andreas Josenhans thoroughly enjoyed his day observing 14’s on the water and openly wondered why more people don’t sail these great boats.
Friday started with good breeze and good racing. Terry Gleason and Evan Sjostadt dominated the day with three straight bullets which proved to be an insurmountable lead for the remainder of the regatta. Brad Ruetenik sailing with Garret Brown (DTGB) also had a good day. Joe Bersch, sailing for the first time with newcomer to the U.S. scene Leith Shenstone, had a good day despite missing the offset mark in the first race and having jib cleat issues in the third. Cameron Puckey, sailing with junior sailor Richard Didham showed good speed and tactics as well. On Friday night the fleet retired to Jack and Cheryl Salerno's house for a typically great party. Even though Jack is going to be out of the fleet for several months after undergoing surgery on his thumbs, it was great to welcome him and Cheryl back after their extended sojourn in Spain.
On Saturday, two 2-leg windward leeward races started off the day, followed by that I-14 staple, the long distance race. True to the form of this year's event, the wind blew straight down the bay, so the usual crap shoot and "am I going to capsize to leeward or windward in the next 5 seconds?" around the Coronado bridge was absent. Instead, the fleet enjoyed a double-wiring heaven of tactical playing of wind, tide, and tacking frequency all the way up to Harbor Island. The wind was relatively light at the very top end of the course for both roundings of the big concrete bouy off of Harbor Island, but the run back to South Bay was fantastic, with the wind steadily increasing as the fleet worked its way down for a spectacular finish. Joe Bersch and Leith Shenstone led all the way around and the took the win for the long distance race, but Terry and Evan passed Cameron and Richard on the last downwind to take second, with a day's result of 1-4-2 to hold onto the regatta lead.
On Sunday, the fleet left the Coronado Yacht Club in no wind and racing was postponed as boats sat absolutely still trying to get out to the course. Eventually, Kirk and Michael, with the longest drive home (except for Joe and Leith), turned back, looking like the wisest for a short time. Ron Boehm and Pete Mohler, along with Steve Shumaker and Pete S. followed suit. When a light breeze filled in, the latter two boats turned back for the race course and never regretted their decision. When the now 6 boat fleet gathered at the starting line, the breeze was at its lowest for the regatta, perhaps only 6 kts for the only leg of the entire regatta where single wiring was required. However, the breeze quickly filled in and once again classic 14-ing conditions were enjoyed for the remainder of the race. The breeze swung hard to the north on the last downwind leg, and steadily increased until the final race of the regatta was sailed in winds up to 15 kts. Terry and Evan took 3 and 2 for the day, which was enough to hold comfortably onto the regatta lead and enabled them to hoist the West Coast Championship trophy. Terry and Evan sailed a great and consistent regatta and demonstrated that practice and time together pays in these difficult boats. Congratulations Terry and Evan! Joe and Leith took a 1 and 4 for the day and second overall. Brad Ruetenik and Garret Brown took 6 and 1 for the day, giving them third place overall. Cameron Puckey and Richard Didham continue to improve and will be a threat if they continue to do so in Hawaii. See full results posted below.
The racing was extremely tight over the course of the regatta with very little distance separating the boats. Post race debriefs revolved around calling shifts, wind velocity and current, and gaining tactical leverage over the competition, even though we all know skiffs aren't tactical - right.
Over twenty boats are expected to attend our next event at Kaneohe Yacht Club in Hawaii. Along with everyone who attended San Diego NOOD, former World Champions Kris Bundy and Jamie Hanseler, Class veteran Paul Galvez with superstar crew Cameron MacDonald and multiple Pacific Rim Championship winners Steve Goodson and Alan Diercks will be in attendance. Racing should be tight in this beautiful racing venue. Stay tuned.
I 14 (One Design - 7 Boats)