|District 5 Regatta Report|| |
Sat Oct 6th, 2007 through Sun Oct 14th, 2007
John Dane and Austin Sperry, photo by Martin McCarthy
| Final Results for sixteen races sailed on Oct. 6 - 14 at California Yacht Club.|
Reports by Tom Leweck:
John Dane and Austin Sperry won the first race by edging George Szabo by just four seconds. But Dane took a double-digit finish in Race Two, while Szabo was doing a horizon job -- winning the race by well over a minute. Szabo looked very solid at that point, but Race Three was his turn to stumble into double-digits, opening the door for Mendelblatt and Liljedahl. After three races, they are the only team in the top four without a double-digit finish.
The Santa Monica Bay was on its best behavior for the opening races. There was bright blue sky without a cloud in sight, and a steady 7-12 knot sea breeze. Spectators enjoyed the warm sun and a view that included Catalina Island, the Malibu coastline and even the Hollywood sign.
There is a tie for second place between two San Diego sailmakers -- George Szabo and his crew Andrew Scott are tied with Szabo’s boss, Mark Reynolds, who is again sailing with his crew of many years, Hal Haenel. Both teams have 24 points -- three points ahead of John Dane III and John MacCausland who each have 27 points.
Again the Santa Monica Bay was on its best behavior, delivering more breeze than is normal for this time of year. There was a steady 7-10 knot sea breeze that only moved around some 25 degrees as the afternoon progressed. However, the Bay was ‘bumpier’ than one would expect for that wind strength and there were also some frustrating localized voids in the wind patterns.
On Day Three of the Trials, races were both postponed and abandoned in progress, and at one point the Race Committee even moved the race course down the Bay in search for better air. It was nearly 3PM when they got off the only race of the day in something like six knots -- a breeze that faded as the 19-boat fleet ran to the finish line.
John Dane III and his crew Austin Sperry reveled in the conditions. They won the favored port end pin at the start and rounded the top mark just behind the Erik Lidecis/ Michael Marzahi team. They got past Lidecis on the second beat to win the only race of the day and move into second place in the regatta. However, Floridians Mark Mendelblatt/ Magnus Liljedahl were not far behind in third place -- which opened their lead in the Star Class Olympic Trials to nine points.
At the end of six races, George Szabo/ Andrew Scott with 28 points are tied for second place with John Dane. Mark Reynolds/ Hal Haenel with 30 points are now in fourth place with John MacCausland/ Robert Schofield (36 pts) in fifth. Other than series leader Mark Mendelblatt, MacCausland is the only skipper in the regatta who has only single digit finishes.
Day Four was very different than Day Three. No postponements; no races abandoned -- just great sailing conditions. The first race was sailed in 8-10 knots of breeze with the flattest water this reporter has ever seen on the Santa Monica Bay. Race two was a different story -- the wind built into the mid-teens and seas were huge. Many of the competitors changed to heavier/ flatter between races. Good thing, because the first beat of that race looked like ‘Victory at Sea.’ Several times I thought my 17’ Whaler would break in half as we followed the fleet upwind. Happily (for me) the wind abated for the day’s finale, but the leftover bumps truly tested the teams on the water. Horton and Nichol won that battle, but Mendelblatt and Liljedahl are still winning the war.
Szabo has an enviable record of success in previous regattas on the Santa Monica Bay, including a win in the 2005 Star Class North American Championships. His comfort level was obvious in the light, but steady, five to six knots of wind that the Santa Monica Bay produced on Day Five, and he lead the 19-boat fleet to the finish line in both races. Mendelblatt sailed his discard in race one, finishing tenth, but came back to finish the day's finale in fourth place.
John Dane III and crew Austin Sperry had a very good day in the light conditions, finishing second and third in the two races, to move into third place -- just six points off the pace. However, with five races yet to be sailed, no one is taking anything for granted.
Of the top players, John Dane III and Austin Sperry, in second place with 49 points, had the best day, with finishes of 4-3. The regatta leaders, Mark Mendelblatt and Magnus Liljedahl sailed their throwout in the first race of the day (12th place) but came back in the day's finale to finish second behind Rick Merriman and Phil Trinter -- and regain the series lead with 48 points. But no one is forgetting George Szabo and Andrew Scott, who had an 8-6 day, and are just two points behind the leaders with 50 points.
It was a great day for sailboat racing on the Santa Monica Bay. After waiting almost an hour for the wind to settle down, PRO Bill Stump started the fleet in a steady 6 knot breeze that continued to build all afternoon until the Bay was covered with small white caps for the final legs of the last race.
Two races are scheduled for Saturday and by Sunday evening the US 2008 Olympic representatives for the Star Class will have been determined.
Szabo had some anxious moments on Day Seven. In the first race of the day he was yellow-flagged by the judges for a kinetics violation. His subsequent penalty turns allowed Dane to get by him and move to the top of the leader-board. In the day's second race, Dane pushed Szabo well back on the opening beat, and Szabo remained deep at the leeward gate. However in a fading sea breeze on the second beat, Szabo hit the South corner hard, and passed something like nine boats -- including both Dane and Mendleblatt.
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