Super Bowl Regatta
Hosted by Santa Monica Windjammers YC
January 27, 2008
The following report is an amalgamation of reports from Steve Potter, Kelly Cantley, and John Papadopoulos.
First and foremost, it was stormy. This, in itself is newsworthy in Southern California as storms of any sort are rather few and often quite mild. Fortunately it wasn’t too cold and rain was intermittent. However it was quite windy – perhaps in the high teens to low 20’s (mph). Not steady, of course. Getting out to the race course helped wake everyone up that may have been a little sleepy because if you weren’t paying full attention, you could easily capsize – as happened to Dave Carroll as he made is way out to the race course.
Steve Potter noted “Well, Super Bowl Regatta is done. I thank SMWYC for hosting it. It was wet. It was windy and the wind direction didn't work real well with the large boulders that define our "outer channel" so the legs wound up as fetches.”
The Lido 14 racing area, in Marina Del Rey, is typically in the channel between the jetties going out to the ocean. On either side of the channel are a row of buoys marked “No Sail” which means that boats motoring must keep themselves in the area marked by the buoy and the jetties. The space left over is perhaps 300 yards wide by 800 yards long – which serves quite well if the wind is more or less oriented along the longer dimension. Today, the wind was quite southerly which would have meant weather race legs of just a hundred or so yards.
The race committee made a compromise and set up weather and leeward marks so that the weather leg was really a close reach. This may well have been a smart choice as trying to sail close hauled in these conditions was pretty challenging, if not outright scary. Remember, it’s the middle of winter – the water is cold – and it has been raining – which means that the typical downhill slide of garbage and pollutants filled the ocean with stuff you don’t want to come in contact with.
Just prior to the start of Race 1, the race committee verbally hailed the racers that the conditions were too trying – even for them- and that they were going to run just one race. With the course set for a close reach (on port tack), the choice of where to start was actually quite challenging as it was nearly impossible to determine which end of the line was actually a shorter distance to the weather mark. One end was further upwind but the other end was probably physically closest. There were two basic options: try to start at the leeward (port) end of the start line and to be best positioned to become the “inside” boat as soon as the fleet tacked onto port or start higher up the line wind and hope that you could cross the fleet (which would be on port tack) and tack onto port in good position. John Papadopoulos opted for the second choice and it proved to be a good one as he quickly poked out in the lead and held it all the way around the course. He sailed back to the race committee and double checked that racing was done and that he should sail back to the club. The race committee confirmed this so off he went.
The conditions started to improve and the Lido 14s remaining on the course asked the race committee to run additional races – and they did. Of course, John and his crew Kelly Buchan, didn’t know this as they had already turned the corner on the way home and couldn’t see the race course anymore. It turns out that they went off into a corner of the harbor and practiced boat handling, figuring the rest of the fleet was doing the same up in the race course area.
Some time later, when John got back in, it he determined that 2 additional races had been completed. Steve Potter, regatta chair, and John briefly contemplated filing for redress but John decided that being able to play and practice in big winds was plenty of reward and dropped the idea.
In Race 3, Kris Potter asked Steve where Kelly Cantley was. “Understand that when Kris and I are racing, I am not allowed to look anywhere so how was I to know her rudder had broken?” Thank god they got in safely with the bottom 2/3rds of a rudder lying on the bottom of the channel.
That turned out to be the only meaningful damage of the day – a fortunate thing as the conditions were truly the sort that leads to Lido 14 masts and booms folding in half.
Kelly Cantley reports “Those of you who missed the Super Bowl regatta on Sunday missed Mr Toad's wild ride!”
1st Steve and Kris Potter
2nd Stu Robinson
3rd Sarah and Mark Ryan
4th Peter Beale with new crew