The question of the morning around the San Diego Yacht Club as racers waited out an hour postponement for the morning fog to burn away was, “Who here can actually beat Chick Pyle?”
It’s a question that has stymied many a Beneteau 36.7 team over the past decade, and a valid question at that, as most sailors around these parts have lost track of how many times Pyle and his teammates on Kea have won the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta in San Diego, and everything else in between.
Kea’s seasoned and longtime crew don’t make it easy for any of the Beneteau 36.7 teams in Southern California, and as the action got started on the first day of the regatta for the 36.7s, in a building 10 to 12-knot breeze, it appeared to be a fait accompli as Pyle and Co., won the first two races. Nipping at their transom at each finish, however, was Peter Cochran and his teammates on Rode Rage, from Julian, California.
The tables then turned in the third race of the day, with Rode Rage scoring a win with Kea crossing fourth to put the series tied. Cochran gave full credit to his teammates for keeping their composure on a stressful day of wind shifts and dramatic changes in wind strength, and especially to his tactician for ensuring Kea could not get past once they had them in their rear-view mirror. “It was tight racing,” Cochran said, “and in that last race we able to keep pushing Kea back into the pack. We know we can never let them get leverage or get away, so that will be the plan for tomorrow. I’m not sure Chick has ever been tied for first going into the last race, so it will be fun to see how this plays out.”
With nine J/105s crowding the starting line on the ocean course off Coronado, the scene was more akin to San Diego’s rush hour traffic, but Stewart Cannon’s veteran team on J-OK always managed to emerge from the scrum and into clean air to work their way to the front. A win in Race 1 was followed by a pair of seconds which puts the local team comfortably in the lead with one day remaining. John and Elena Bennett’s Boss Lady won the third race of the day to bring themselves within 4 points of J-OK.
Rudolph Hasl’s J/145 Paleamon, the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta San Diego’s 2022 Overall Winner, is the big boat of the three-deep ORC division and when alone on the open course they were able to sail their boat to its full potential and win two of three races. In the new Fast 40 division, which is a mix of 40-footers racing under PHRF, John Laun’s J/120 Caper started with a fourth before winning the next two in the afternoon’s building breeze. Ed Sanford’s J/111 Creative is only 1 point in arrears, however, having won the day’s first race and finishing second the final race of the day.
Meanwhile, on the South Bay Circle, the combined race committees of San Diego and Coronado yacht clubs, delivered four additional races to bring the series to eight races for most classes. Tom Garrett’s Sloop John B, from Newport Beach, California, and Jeff Janov’s Minor Threat, from Malibu, California, only have 3 points between them, so all is to play for on the final day of racing on Sunday, with two additional races likely.
Travis Gregory’s 222, from Farmington, Utah, is the new Ultimate 20 class leader having advanced from second overall on Fridaynwith an impressive string of four race wins today, but only 2 points separate them from Marty Smihula’s Hard Drive, from Sandy, Utah.
Charlie Welsh’s Space Cadet continued its dominance of the five-boat VX One fleet with four race wins as well, and in the Melges 15 fleet, Kyle Hirsch and crewmate Cole Baker won three races to pad their lead to 3 points.
Terrence Gleeson and Jett Jennings maintained their place atop the International 14 series with top-five finishes, but a pair of race wins by Brad Reutenik and Parker Shin at the end of the day, now has them hunting the leaders with plenty more races ahead.
Thirteen J/24s began their series today and it was Susan Taylor’s Take Five, from Los Angeles, emerging as the top team with finishes of 2-4-1-3, which left them tied on the results sheet with Jasper Van Vliet’s Evil Octopus, from Mill Valley, California, each with 10 points apiece.
On the Paralympic sailing circle, Jim Thweatt continued his dominance of the Hansa 303 fleet, but in the Martin 16s, Eddie Lewis Jr., rebounded after a tough first day to win all four races and take the lead from Sue Taetzsch.
Results of the long-course distance race, which featured three trimarans and one outlier Hobie 33 had Mark Berden’s UnEven Keel leading the multihulls around the 13-mile or so course from start to finish.