Sunday, March 3, 2019

Women's J/22 Winter Regatta in Sunny SD!

J/22 women's regatta- San Diego, California(San Diego, CA)- “Mimosas, Massages, & Memories.  Women go sailing J/22s in San Diego!”

When Kim Couranz first suggested we represent Severn Sailing Association at San Diego Yacht Club’s Women’s Winter Invite on February 16-17, I was excited to get “the band” back together again. It had been almost a decade since Kim and Margaret Podlich and I had sailed together, but we still remembered how much fun we had.

A “girls’ weekend” that included racing (and an escape from real winter, back east to San Diego, CA) was definitely worth traveling cross-country.

I can’t speak for why so many others traveled similar distances—there was even a team from Mexico—but I’m pretty sure everyone went home happy. What’s not to like about yoga, mimosas, massages, sunshine, great breeze, and fast-paced competition from several generations of sailors?

Here’s how the racing worked: Twenty teams sailed ten J/22s, rotating after every race on a dock only a few minutes from the race course. La Playa is a small basin that (on this particular weekend) was filled with anchored boats, all taking shelter behind the high ridge of Point Loma from a series of winter low pressure systems.

J/22 women sailors off San Diego, CARegardless of whether the left or right breeze won at any given moment, there were plenty of obstructions on the three-minute legs—and no lead was safe.

Between races, we socialized. The dockside SDYC RC boat ‘Corinthian’ hosted self-serve food and drink, while two masseuses were kept busy working on tight muscles. While cheering on lead changes and overlapped finishes, we made some new friends and caught up with old ones.

With the likely exception of massages, all of what I’ve described so far could’ve happened at any regatta. Three major differences made this event particularly special:

1. Starting off the day with a yogi-led group stretch. Loosening up joints and muscles surrounded by a roomful of competitors put the whole regatta thing into perspective. When else do we prepare for a day’s racing by channeling gratitude rather than grit and determination?

2. A competitor age range of close to forty years. There were teams who could’ve been my kids, others that I’d raced against “back in the day,” and several sailors I knew only by reputation. It was definitely not the “same old crowd,” for anybody.

3. “Sail with the Commodore.” Each rotation, SDYC Commodore Jerelyn Biehl took out women who’d never raced before— and her teams won two of the 46 races. Her real win was exposing more yacht club members to small boat sailing and its unique camaraderie.

J/22 women's sailing team at San Diego, CaliforniaAfter racing each day, we retreated to hot tub or bar (or both) for more socializing over more food and drink. SDYC was as welcoming as always, and even the fork and knife crowd didn’t seem to mind a handful of lifejacketed ladies wandering through.

And yes, my team achieved our original mission; get the band back together, and laugh a lot. After observing the three of us finishing each others’ sentences the first morning, one of the younger skippers observed, “You guys must’ve spent a lot of time together.”

Guilty as charged, and long may it continue.  Thanks to all the organizers for making this happen, and please sign us up for next year!”

In the end, it was top Olympian sailor Allie Blecher from California Yacht Club that won the regatta with a 1.20 race average.  Jenny Swett, a native of Newport and Jamestown J/24 Fleet 50 days, appeared like she had not lost her touch, taking 2nd with a 1.40 avg.  Third was author Carol Cronin’s crew from Annapolis, MD with a 1.71 avg. Fourth was Liz Baylis from San Francisco with a 1.83 avg.  Then, fifth place was determined on a tie-breaker with a 2.00 avg between Emily Maxwell from New York YC and Nicole Breault from St Francis YC, with Maxwell getting the nod on countback.  Sailing Photo Credits- San Diego YC/ Bob Betancourt  Thanks for the contribution from Scuttlebutt Sailing and Carol Cronin  For more Women’s J/22 Winter Invitational Regatta sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.