SAN DIEGO-This will not be a comforting realization for the International 14 sailors who struggled to keep their boats upright during Saturday’s windy conditions at the 2008 Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD Regatta.
Charlie McKee, who skippered a borrowed boat to a dominating win in the 16-boat class, hadn’t sailed an International 14 in nearly a decade until the day before the event. With the boat’s owner, Joe Bersch, unable to sail, McKee paired up with another charter member of Seattle’s skiff squadron, Fritz Lanzinger, and showed that he hasn’t lost much, if any, of the skill that lifted him to two Olympic bronze medals and a 49er world championship.
McKee won the regatta by eight points over Paul Galvez. Dalton Bergan was third, four points further behind.
That performance, however, was not enough to win McKee and Lanzinger the overall victory for the San Diego NOOD regatta. That honor went to Will Stout, who won the Etchells class by four points.
Stout opened the regatta with a ninth in the 19-boat fleet, then moved himself into the lead with four straight victories, one on Friday, and then three on Saturday. But it wasn’t a big lead, just a point over second and four points over third.
A fifth in the opening race on Sunday gave his a smidge more breathing room as he beat his primary rivals. But in the final race of the day, Stout was quickly squeezed out of his lane off the starting line and forced to tack and take more than a few transoms. By the windward mark, however, Stout and his team (at left) were in second, and they held that place to the finish to win the class and the regatta.
The wind conditions on the inshore course were similar to those on the two ocean courses, but the lack of any significant waves made a tremendous difference. While the ocean course sailors were dealing with conditions so challenging that two sailors went to the hospital on Saturday, one for a dislocated shoulder, one for hypothermia, the Ultimate 20s, International 14s, Buccaneers, and Vipers all reveled in the flat water and shifty breeze offered up by the South Bay circle.
No one enjoyed it as much as McKee and Lanzinger. “The two of us, together, counting Thursday, four days,” said Lanzinger when asked how much time he and McKee had spent together sailing International 14s. But, he added, that doesn’t mean they lack experience in the class. “I’ve sailed with Kris Bundy and I’ve sailed some other stuff,” said Lanzinger. “Jonathan [McKee, Charlie’s older brother] and Charlie sailed 14s way back in the 90s. I sail maybe 4 regattas a year, 5 regattas a year. This boat belongs to a friend of ours, and he couldn’t make the regatta. The last time we sailed together was 10 years ago in 49ers, we thought we’d team up again and give her a whirl.”
And what a whirl it was. They won half of the eight races and never finished out of the top three. Even in Saturday’s breeze of 15 to 20 knots, they were flawless, winning a short two-lapper and the 15-mile distance race that took the teams on a tour of San Diego Bay.
“Before we start we said look we’re going to concentrate on keeping the boat between the lines,” said Lanzinger. “We haven’t sailed that much together or in this boat, so maybe back off the throttle in a couple locations and make sure we complete our maneuver. It may not be the fastest maneuver but it’s one we survived. So we always tried to survive the maneuvers, the jibes or whatever they were. I think that was our theme for the weekend; don’t sail outside ourselves.”
While much of the fleet capsized at least once on Saturday, and nearly half didn’t finish the distance race, McKee and Lanzinger kept their mast dry the entire day.
If it’s any consolation, Lanzinger did admit that the distance race wore the pair out. “It was a lot of work,” he said. “When we were done, it was definitely time to go to the barn.” Oh, and they also capsized once on Sunday. “In the last race,” Lanzinger said with the laugh, “in the light air actually, when I got stuck on my trapeze hook for a second.”
Running a close second to Will Stout in the race for the San Diego stop’s overall title was Ultimate 20 champ Steve Bowman. The 14-boat class featured five different individual race winners. Bowman took four, including the opening race of the regatta and the final two. But he only won the event by a single point. Trish Sudell, who opened the 10-race series with a 10th and a seventh, went into the final race with a one-point lead. However, due to how the tiebreaker would fall, she needed to beat Bowman to win the regatta. Sudell finished third in the final race, second in the regatta, four points ahead of Mark Allen’s Junta.
On the other side of the competition coin were the performances turned in by J/80 champion Curt Johnson, Tom Hirsch, who won the Flying Tiger 10M class, and J/109 skipper Thomas Brott. Each won more races than their didn’t in their respective classes and finished the regatta with half the points, or less, than the second-place boat.
The San Diego NOOD is the second of nine stops on the 2008 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta tour. The next event is Annapolis in late April, following by the inaugural Seattle NOOD in mid-May. In November the nine overall winners will gather for a season-ending rendezvous in the Caribbean, which each winner receiving a Sunsail charter boat for the regatta.