No Holds Barred in the Holder 20s

SD NOOD Sat

Stuart Streuli

SAN DIEGO-With a pair of firsts and a second, Kyra Sweda's Problem Child moved from a three-way tie for fifth after racing on Friday into a commanding lead on Saturday in the Holder 20 class at the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD. The seven-boat Holder 20 fleet sailed in excellent conditions, racing along with the Ultimate 20s and a trio of high performance dinghies on the South Bay Course. The breeze started out at around 12 to 15 knots from the south southeast and slowly veered and then finally faded abruptly at the end of the day. While showers were forecast, the sun made an impressive effort and there was little if any rain. Ron Vanheel, who drives the boat while Sweda does the bow, said the key to the team's performance was their choice of headsails for the first two races. "We elected to go with the blade because we were able to point higher and we were able to use it as a staysail downwind," he said. "That was a big-time advantage." Sweda added that the their tacks were especially quick with the small jib, which enabled them to stay in phase with the shifty breeze. After three races on Friday, just three points separated the entire Holder 20 fleet, But after Saturday's racing, Sweda now has a 5-point lead over her closest competitor with second through sixth separated by the same 5-point margin. "It's exciting," she said with a big smile, carrying away four of Mount Gay pint glasses that are awarded to the top three finishers in each individual race. The ocean courses experienced similar wind conditions, but they had two other variables thrown into the mix, a big ocean swell, and the omnipresent Southern Californian kelp, which has a nasty habit of snagging on keels and rudders. "The conditions put a premium on paying attention to the shifts," said John Laun, of the J/120 Capers, "and also being able to change gears." Laun had his clutch working smoothly today as he recorded a pair of seconds and a first and is leading the 6-boat class by 2 points over Jed Olenick's Doctor No. "There was quite a bit of chop," Laun continued, "so the trim was very different tack to tack." As for the kelp, Laun smiled and said that's a problem that everyone has to deal with racing in San Diego and is certainly not a viable excuse, though he did say his team has become quite proficient at flossing the keel with a weighted line and clearing the rudder with a kelp stick. "Some people were forced to back down," he said. "Fortunately we didn't have to do that." Robert Jones started off his regatta in the Martin 16 class exactly how he wanted to, by winning the first race. The rest of the day didn't go quite as well, but well enough to leave Jones in second place after four races. "It's always my goal to start off the day with a bullet," he said. "The starts were critical as it seemed like the boats that got out in front, stayed in front." In the third race, Jones was in second place when he followed regatta leader Stephen Alvey into the left corner. It proved to be a painful decision. "The boats behind us carried in toward the shore," he said. "We were way ahead of them and we didn't cover. They had a lot of velocity on the shore and when we came back on starboard the whole fleet was crossing us. You got to watch the boats behind you." Jones was able to pick off a few boats and finish fourth in the race while Alvey ground all the way back into the lead. Alvey currently leads by four points over Jones. "Unfortunately, he's several bullets ahead of us now," said Jones of Alvey. "We've got to figure out how to get more boat speed." Other results of note include the Beneteau 36.7s, which are racing for their North American championship. Charles Bayer wasn't quite able to keep pace with his 1-2 punch from yesterday, but a fourth, a third, and a sixth was good enough to maintain his overall lead, 3 points head of Dan and David Shriner's Legend. Both boats are from out of town, Bayer hails from Grosse Point Farms, Mich,. while the Shriners traveled from Sterling Heights, Mich., to compete. The top local boat is Chick and Alexis Pyle's Kea, in third, three points out of second. In the J/105 class, the regatta's biggest with 21 boats, it's Dennis and Sharon Case's Wings which has jumped into the lead with just four points in three races. Doug and Pam Werner's Javelin is second, four points back. See the results page for the complete standings of all 15 classes. Racing in the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD will conclude on Sunday.