Santa Cruz Open
Stunning conditions on the Monterey Bay!
Eleven boats turned up in Santa Cruz for the late Spring regatta, with many excuses made for non attendance…. For the eleven that did race, wow. Santa Cruz is one of those venues that when it is good, it is great, although it is not always that way. For me, Santa Cruz memories are made up of big rolling waves, cold water and strong breezes, conditions that in my mind John Westell designed the perfect weapon for. It would be hard to imagine sailing in those conditions in many other boats!
Well, this past weekend delivered the stuff of dreams! Saturday, sunny, fresh breeze and great rolling waves. Breeze was agreed to be around 18 knots for the most part and oddly for Santa Cruz the wind was strongest closest to the shore. With a tight and crowded line and a very competitive fleet, starting was not the easiest of maneuvers to complete, but as usual as soon as you did you were looking for your first opportunity to get onto port and head for the right hand corner. Race 1 for me was a bit of a blur and for the first time in a while, Rob and I managed to put the boat in a board up position right at the first leeward mark, giving the following boats a more difficult challenge to round it! We were off the pace Saturday and Andy and Howie were racing with Adam and Mike at the front with the rest of us engaged in a tight battle behind. Gybe set was the order of the day and any time you thought otherwise you were punished. Adam and Mike ended with three straight firsts, nice work!
Saturday was good, Sunday if you liked “epic” conditions was about as good as it gets. We were racing in wind and sea conditions that were getting pretty close to the top end, wind steady in the 20’s with gusts close to 30, seas that downwind had our boat equal part airplane and submarine. The course was set up well offshore, which certainly reduced the right hand component of the course, but all of us being pre conditioned to go right we saved a few tacks and apart from Steve and guest star Nick pulling off a successful visit to the “other” corner we all hit the right corner. Downwind though the right was the path of choice, more breeze offshore this time and less maneuvering made this the way we went. Over the course of the day’s three races almost everyone had at least one swim and boat handling was thoroughly examined. Race one of the day was won by Steve and Nick and as Rob said in our boat, “If I was them I would head in now and call it good!” Handily taking down some of the best heavy weather 5O5 sailors in the World, in their backyard. The rest of the day was a blur of spray and fun and Rob and I came out best with a 2,1,2 scoreline to close the point gap on the first two boats but not enough to change the standings overall.
- Adam Lowry assisted by Mike Martin. Consistently fastest upwind, slower down
- Andy Zinn supported by Howie Hamlin. Fast up and down, need to keep the mast side up more
- Rob Woelfel dragging Mike Holt around. Off the pace Saturday, better Sunday
- Steve Bourdow, needed two drivers to get through the weekend, Mark Christensen Saturday, Nick Adamson Sunday. Either combo sailing fast and challenging the front hard.
- Reeve Dunne managed by Parker Shinn. Steady day Saturday, followed by disappointing gear failure on Sunday. Warranty work for Mike?
- Pat Diola assisted by Jeff Miller. Didn’t seem to have their usual wheels and “protected” the ship for the NA’s on Sunday
- Rich Mundel handled by Bruce Edwards. Despite only sailing Sunday and Rich driving a minivan, they were right in the mix all day Sunday in the big breeze.
- Rob Waterman Aaron Ross. Competitive upwind, need to work on downwind, another “protecting” the boat for bigger events, or was it bodies?
- Matt Merchant supported by Tim Murphy. Maybe the 10k wasn’t a good idea after all Tim? Sailed well on Saturday, struggling on Sunday.
- Segah Meer assisted by Steve Andreas. Another one day show, this time Saturday but getting around well.
- Bobby Noyes supported by Terry Neff. A “new” boat on the water after a refit by Larry, looking very fast. Not the easiest weekend to start over but acquitted well and survived the conditions.