(San Diego, CA)- The Sinhoffer Hot Rum Regatta series always seems to be full of surprises for all who’ve sailed the event over the course of time. Such a seemingly simple course, using the classic “pursuit-style” starting sequence with small(slowest) boats starting first and fastest last, is never quite what it seems as the boats head out to the starting line. Other than weather that can be impacted by late summer highs bathing the fleet in warm sun and light winds or massively fast weather systems blown down from the Bering Straits whipping the eastern Pacific into a frenzy and throwing overcast clouds, 15-30 kts SW winds and 10-15 seas at the fleet, the big “gotcha” is often how the winds (or lack thereof) flow over the monstrous promontory known as Point Loma. As a result, many a Hot Rum Series leader has seen their chances blown in the final few hundred yards sailing into the finish line off Shelter Island.
This year’s three weekend series saw just about every weather condition imaginable. The first weekend was fraught with almost no wind with most big boats barely finishing and most littler boats having to take DNFs (sometimes entire divisions!). The second go-around saw a gorgeous sunny day with 5-8 kts of breeze from the West. Then, the final weekend was cool, partly cloudy with foggy drizzle and a strong breeze of 10-20 kts from the SW.
For the first time in years, the little boats predominated. In fact, it was the “classic” J/24 CAROLINA sailed by Ben Nieting that not only took overall honors, winning the last race overall, but also winning Class 5! Not far behind them overall was Dennis & Sharon Case’s J/105 WINGS, taking sixth overall and first in Class 3 and in ninth overall was Jim Madden’s J/125 STARK RAVING MAD IV.
On a class basis, the top dog in Class 1 for J/125s was Madden’s STARK RAVING MAD, taking 7th. Just behind was Mark Surber’s DERIVATIVE in 9th and third of their group was Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE in 12th.
The next class was a really mixed bag of boats that ranged from 28 to 44 feet. Class 2 had a raft of J/120s and J/124s. Top J team was John Laun’s J/120 CAPER, taking 4th in class and top J/120. Next was Mike Hatch’s J/120 J-ALMIGHTY in fifth place followed by Chuck Nichol’s CC RIDER. Seth Hall’s gorgeous, navy blue J/124 MARISOL took 11th in class.
The J/105s generally seem to dominate Class 3 by sheer numbers as well as by some remarkable performances. Not surprisingly, a perennial contender topped the fleet, Dennis & Sharon Case’s J/105 WINGS. They were followed by “birthday boy” Steve Howell (sailing with wife Lucy) on the ever popular BLINK!, taking third in class. Ed Sanford’s J/105 CREATIVE sailed nicely to take fourth.
With a fast-growing and strong presence already in Southern California, it was only a matter of time that J/70s started to pop-up on the radar screen and do some damage even in the handicap-racing world. Sailing in what is arguably one of the toughest fleets, Jeff Brown’s J/70 took top honors followed by Dave Vieregg’s SOGGY DOLLAR in third overall in class. Next up with a good series was Tomm Reilly’s J/100 JASWINDER. Of note, the J/70 fleet was not going to be denied, winning every race in class with Eric Kownacki’s DFZ taking one and Karl Pomeroy’s ZERO TO 60 taking the other.
The heart-warming story for this Hot Rum Series had to be the family crew and friends aboard Ben Nieting’s biege-colored J/24 CAROLINA, winning both counter races with ease! Just off the pace was David Cattle’s beautifully restored J/27 BLACKADDER notching a well—earned 5th overall. They were followed by yet another J/24, Mark Clements’ BRIGADOON in sixth overall! Of note was a nice series sailed by Robert Noe’s pretty J/30 MAD HATTER— a beautifully maintained white boat that took 11th! Sailing photo credits- San Diego YC/ Bronny Daniels- Joysailing.com For more San Diego YC Hot Rum sailing information