Monday, October 30, 2017

Campbell Crushes J/105 Masters Regatta

J/105 sailing Masters San Diego (San Diego, CA)- The 2017 edition of the J/105 International Masters Regatta produced nearly an entirely fresh new slate of masters skippers from around the USA and Caribbean.  The twelve seasoned skippers had their hands full also sailing in an entirely new location- south of the Coronado Bridge in the wide-open South Bay.  It was a refreshing change for those who had sailed in the past in the corner of San Diego Harbor- defined by the USS Midway on the city-front, one of the big 1,200 ft nuclear carriers docked at North Island, and the Sheraton Airport Hotels to the north; it was riddled with huge current issues and even worse boat traffic and wackier wind shifts.

Demonstrating that he had not lost his touch over time, native southern Californian Bill Campbell simply smoked the fleet of past offshore and dinghy champions; compiling five 1st, four 2nds in eleven races to take the crown of Chief Master with just 24 pts total, easily the lowest average score in Master racing history.  Here is how it all unfolding over the course of three days.

J/105s sailing Mastes RegattaDay One- Friday
It was a long day of sailing on the first day of the event.  Four races were completed after an initial postponement.  Competitors were eager to get going, however, racing was delayed due to a J/105 breakdown on the way out to the race course. Luckily, a replacement boat came quickly and Race Committee was able to start race one at 12:30pm. With some slight changes, Race Committee ran course 4 throughout the day in mostly 10 knots of wind and flat water.

According to PRO Susi Graff, "We had a great day today because there was a lot of wind, and at one point we saw 18 knots of breeze. The wind direction kept swinging from 250 to 280, but we were able to basically put the course where we wanted to. I think the racers had a good time. They were fast!"

Dr. Laura Schlessinger (Santa Barbara Yacht Club), the only female skipper in this year's Masters Regatta, said she experienced a bit of a learning curve on the first day of racing. "These guys are formidable and I better have a bigger breakfast tomorrow. I'm not used to the J/105s, they are a completely different animal to me, but I sure liked when the wind came up. When I heel, I'm happy!"

David Irish (Little Traverse Yacht Club) traveled to San Diego all the way from Michigan to compete in the Masters Regatta, and is keeping a positive attitude after day one. "Today had its moments. We had some good results, good performances, and some disappointments. We're doing a lot better than last year though and we enjoyed a good, long day of racing."

Though racing was tight, local Bill Campbell (SDYC) was undoubtedly the star of the day, winning three out of four races. Dave Perry (Pequot Yacht Club) was the only skipper able to beat Campbell, though Campbell remained close behind him and ultimately finished that race in second place.

Perry recounted the day and what happened in race three, his winning race. "Today was perfect racing conditions with a lot of close competition. For race three, we were in an orange boat and that boat was sailing really nicely. We had a good start, went out to the left, rounded the mark behind Doug Rastello's team, passed them right before the gate, and never looked back."

The provisional leaderboard after four races had Campbell on top, followed by John Andron (St. Francis Yacht Club) in second, and Doug Rastello (Newport Harbor Yacht Club) in third.

J/105 Masters participantsDay Two- Commodore Swimming Day
Saturday’s racing started out with a lot less breeze.  With the wind at a light 5 knots, the Race Committee PRO started the first race on time at 11:30am. By race two, the wind was up to about 10 knots, a speed that continued throughout the rest of the day for the most part, similar to Friday. Luckily, the weather worked out largely as forecasted this weekend; the breeze filled in from the left and SDYC RC got one race in at 250 deg. before the breeze moved to the right.  Four races were run for the day, all windward-leeward, with the final race a course “3” so the windward finish was much closer to home.  Competitors were back to the dock by 4:30pm to get ready for the anticipated Saturday night regatta banquet.

SDYC Waterfront Director Jeff Johnson commented that, “Race Committee has been thrilled to run these races in San Diego South Bay. Having a full race track is awesome. We think it keeps the boats from collisions that they have been plagued by in the past.”

Saturday was full of surprises, mainly during race 6 which featured an epic comeback from Bill Campbell (SDYC), and a start that landed the SDYC Commodore in the water. Yes, you read that correctly. The SDYC Commodore John Reiter, crewing for Dave Perry (Pequot Yacht Club), and the boat rep on board both visited the Masters "dunk tank" during race 6!!

Dave Perry sailing J/105 MastersReiter told the soon-to-be-classic tale back at the dock after sailing. “After the start we tacked immediately on to port. We got going and we were cruising along and the next thing you know there was a puff and Dave yelled at us to hike hard. I leaned out over the lifeline, it snapped, and the boat rep and I just went straight in the water! I was holding on to the cushion that goes over the wire so I just started using it as a pool noodle until we were able to get back on the boat!”

Once back on board, both sailors dried off in the wind while continuing to sail. Perry ended up finishing 11th that race, and went on to win race 8 later in the day.

Meanwhile, defending Champion Bill Menninger (Newport Harbor Yacht Club) noticed a pattern in the results between the 2016 and 2017 running of the regatta.

"We had a better day than yesterday, but it has been very similar to last year. We were seventh on Friday last year, then fourth on Saturday, and we finished today in fourth. All Bill Campbell has to do tomorrow is get three 10th places and then we will be right there!"

Joking aside, Menninger learned a lot yesterday, which he was able to apply to today to help him move up a few spots. "We did a little better today and went a little faster. We learned from what other boats were doing yesterday, basically pulling the jib in tighter and that helps an awful lot. So, our boat speed was much better and we got off the line faster.”

Bill Campbell proved that his performance on Friday was not a fluke, and he won races 5 and 7 on Saturday. In race 6 he rounded the first weather mark at the back of the fleet and worked his way up to second by the last leg, ultimately finishing second. Campbell is still in the lead by 20 points after day 2, with Jon Andron (St. Francis Yacht Club) in second, and David Irish (Little Traverse Yacht Club) in third.

J/105s sailing Masters in South Bay San DiegoDay Three- Campbell Dominates Finale
The final day could not have been a more picturesque day out on the water. Under the bright sun in South San Diego Bay, the twelve sailors (some not so bright & bushy-tailed after Saturday night’s bacchanalian dinner) completed the last three races.

The one weather complaint today was lack of wind at the scheduled start time. The SDYC RC postponed racing for an hour until the breeze came up to 5 knots and they were able to start the first race. There was a huge wind shift to the right at the end of the first race, so Race Committee re-set everything for the second and third races. Due to timing, Race Committee made the call to only run 11 races total, and they sent competitors on a long three-legged race for race 11 in order to get back to SDYC for the awards ceremony.

By day three of racing, Bill Campbell (SDYC) and Jon Andron (St. Francis Yacht Club) were pretty much locked in for first and second places. However, it was incredibly tight between third through fifth places going into the last race. Tad Lacey (San Francisco Yacht Club) placed fourth in race 11 which solidified his third place podium finish, just one point over defending champion Bill Menninger (Newport Harbor Yacht Club).

This is Lacey's first time racing the International Masters Regatta as a skipper, though he has crewed it several times before. "We had great races today. We went from 7th place last night to 3rd place overall by the end of today and I owe it all to my crew. They did a fabulous job on the course, calling the wind, trim, tactics, everything. It was a great day."

Andron placed second overall and was the winner of race 10 today. "We had a fun weekend, but we were all racing for second place. Bill Campbell is a well-deserved champion and he sailed beautifully. My favorite race was the race we won. It was puffy and streaky and we were able to be in the right place at the right time."

With five bullets over three days, Bill Campbell was a powerhouse this weekend, earning his first place finish by 23 points. In addition to Lacey, this was also Bill's first time skippering the Masters Regatta, though he crewed for Richard du Moulin last year and for Malin Burnham a few years back.

J/105s sailing spinnakers South Bay San DiegoCampbell has been sailing J/105s for a while now, but attributes his success in this regatta to his crew. "We were fortunate and lucky in many respects. I had a great crew: Al Pleskus on the bow, Chuck Sinks and Andy La Dow trimming, Dwight Allgood in the pit, and Vince Brun as tactician and helping in the back of the boat steering. It's easy when you have a bunch of great guys working for you. We had a wonderful time and we were fortunate to have a couple of great starts and races. We were able not to lose boats, but always to gain boats if we had to."

Interestingly enough, Bill was not the only talented Campbell out on the San Diego Bay this weekend. Bill's son Andrew, the 2008 Olympian and Team Oracle USA America’s Cup sailor, was racing the Extreme Sailing Series for Team Extreme San Diego. Luckily, the Extreme Sailing Series was just up the bay off Harbor Island and Bill's wife Sherri was able to split time on a spectator boat between events to be able to watch her husband and son!

Event organizers would like to thank everyone involved in this year's International Masters Regatta for all of their hard work on and off the water.  The International Masters Regatta would like to thank its event sponsors: Helly Hansen, SD Boatworks, and Cutwater Spirits.   Follow the J/105 Masters Regatta on Facebook   For more J/105 International Masters Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.