“Hurry and get your gun,” said a member of the race committee on the blustery last day of the 2002 Sailing World Texas NOOD regatta as the thick of the J/22 fleet was finishing downwind. “There’s a Catalina that caught the Js,” and then he lowered his voice: “No spinnaker.” It was Caliente, the leader of the Catalina-22 Non-Spinnaker fleet, barreling past boat after boat in the J/22 fleet to their fourth first place finish.
Our genoa is like a barn door, said skipper Brian Keathley, But still, that boat was going faster than wed ever seen it go. Imagine a station wagon passing a Maserati. What had been light, shifty conditions yesterday changed dramatically today when the wind picked up to 18 knots in Galveston Bay. Keathley and his crew took the changed conditions as an opportunity to intimidate their competition: During the pre-start, they sailed along the line with a small genoa, and performed a hairy change to the big jib five minutes before the start of the race.
Only one Catalina-22 sailed the second race in the Non-Spinnaker fleet. The rest, thinking racing was over, headed to the docks. Although the boat that sailed later withdrew from the race, spreading the penalty points evenly throughout the fleet, it wouldn’t have mattered to Caliente: They would have won by 5 points. “I always wanted to be that guy who didn’t have to sail on the last day because he was so far ahead,” said Keathley. “This is like a dream come true.”