The Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series San Diego got underway on Friday with the fleets of San Diego’s South Bay circles enjoying a slowly building west breeze that allowed four races to be completed in most classes.
The two newest fleets of this year’s regatta—the doublehanded Melges 15 and the larger three-person VX One sportboat—showcased close and tactical racing on their course, which was set just south of the Coronado Bridge. With the wind direction more northerly in this part of the bay, the preferred side of the racecourse was along the city front. Short tacking along the shoreline favored the teams with sharper boathandling. Brian Savery and Scott Wilson, from Bellingham, Washington, were the top Melges 15 team of the day, winning three of four races to pad a 4-point lead over the Mission Bay-based pair of Kyle Baker and Cole Hirsch.
Charlie Welsh’s VX One Space Cadet, from Newport Beach, California, started the day with a win and followed that with a second and another win before posting a fourth to end the day with a 1-point margin over Keith and Curtis Christensen and Karen Rodgers.
The 13-boat International 14 fleet, sailing its West Coast Championship, enjoyed two buoy races before setting off on their traditional Bay Race. Terence Gleeson and Jett Jennings on the green-hulled Dunder Pit were first to finish the marathon in what Gleeson described as a relatively easy lap of the San Diego Bay. “It was nice to do our distance race today rather than Saturday because there’s a lot less boat traffic,” Glesson said. “The wind was consistent enough that there weren’t the usual [no-wind] holes, so there was a lot less capsizing than we’d normally see.”
Further south on South Bay, the J/70s, and Ultimate 20 fleets produced two runaway leaders in Eduardo Saenz’s J/70 Nimbus, from Mexico City, and Marty Smihula’s Ultimate 20 team on Hard Drive, one of several Ultimate 20 teams that traveled from Park City, Utah.
A new addition to this year’s edition of the regatta are two Paralympic sailing classes: the Hansa 303 and Martin 16. Jim Thwaett, of West Sacramento, California, guided his yellow Hansa Karl into the series lead with finishes of 2-1-2-2 in the four-boat fleet to end the day with a 2-point lead over Kai McDonald, of Imperial Beach, California. In the Martin 16s, Sue Taetzsch, of Poway, California, went undefeated in the eight-boat fleet.
The Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series San Diego continues with races over the weekend, with the addition of J/24s on South Bay, the regatta’s bigger boats on the ocean racecourse off Point Loma and the first of two days of long-course racing for the Distance Race competitors, which will be starting off Shelter Island mid-morning. All other classes will be racing by noon.