Against all odds, the Sailing Team at UCI proved that they were a force to be reckoned with. With their second qualifier of the season, the Anteaters prevailed, winning the Sloop Pacific Coast Championships.
The forecast predicted gale force winds for Saturday’s racing. They were right. The day started out relatively calm, but not for UCI. Their boat, seemingly rigged to perfection, ended up missing main sail battens. They scuffled to fix the problem and were towed out to the course. Every other team had already done a few practice sets in the J22s provided by CMA and Richmond Yacht Club. The Anteaters barely made the first start. Their first race, they managed a second place despite the stress. In the second race, around the last leeward mark the pin attaching the boom to the mast sheared off and left UCI’s team of four “boom-less”. This resulted in a BYE. Each team switching into that boat in subsequent races sat out.
The Anteaters forged ahead without a break and managed the breeze as it began to build. The third race, UCI came back with a bang and proceeded to win, dominating the downwind legs with phenomenal spinnaker work. Gybes were in control and quick. In race 4, the Anteaters stayed consistent with a 2, the wind shifting more to the right and gusting to over 15 knots.
Race 5 proved to be the biggest challenge for UCI. They were late to the start and this was when the breeze really began to pick up. With gusts over 25 knots there were really no opportunities to pass. “It was all we could do to keep the boat upright with the kite up,” skipper Brian Hoover commented. However, with a 4 as their worst finish and the totals close, the Anteaters needed to focus. Consistency was the name of the game. First place finishes were going left and right to the other three competitive teams; USC, UH, and CMA.
The hunt was on and so was the breeze. With gusts now in the 30s, the Anteaters buckled down, trimmed everything in tight and sailed on. They were 4th off the line, but managed to get their boat moving much more effectively. UCI passed two boats and finished in second, just behind USC. No spinnakers were set, and for good reason. CMA attempted a set and capsized their J22 twice on one downwind leg. This ended the racing for the day. The standings were USC with 10 points, UCI with 11, and UH with 12 points. With only one race left for Sunday and a completely different forecast, the Anteaters had their work cut out.
Sunday began with light breeze and serious attitudes. After last year’s close regatta (USC winning by 1 point ahead of Irvine) and the summer’s setbacks (UCI budget issues dropping the team and lack of coach), Irvine had a lot to prove. The team knew they needed to stay close to USC and UH. They were a little late to the start but had pushed both teams back. However, they split off the line and UCI had to make some decisions. They rounded ahead, played a conservative game downwind and again had to make a decision. CMA split off to the left around the leeward mark while USC and UH hugged the right. The Anteaters chose to stick to the right and ended up watching CMA take the 1. Irvine ended the last race with a second, UH close behind in 3rd and USC deep with a 5th. This was it. UCI had won PCCs and was going to ICSA Sloop Nationals.
With the feeling still unreal, the team then had to worry about their Suburban that had broken down the day before. UCI managed to rise above all of the little setbacks over the two days of racing and proved that they were the team that deserved to go. Skipper Brian Hoover ’12 had a serious goal set in his mind and consistency throughout the regatta helped the team accomplish that. Superior team work also helped UCI rise above. Freshman Ashley Hobson did a phenomenal job on foredeck. Senior Ryan Moore doused and was a boat handling master. Senior and Team Captain Frank O’Brien managed trimming the spinnaker in over 20 knots and Senior Monica Orphan stood by as backup for lighter breeze.
Now the team will travel to the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut the third weekend in October. The team will prepare to sail Colgate 26s. Be sure to look for results and updates along the way.
About the UCI Sailing Team:The University of California at Irvine (UCI) Varsity Sailing Team, was founded in 1965 as a charter sport on the new campus. The team is a member of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association of North America (ICSA) and the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (PCCSC). UCI Sailing has 7 National Championships, 51 ICSA All-Americans, and 22 Conference Championships, the most successful team on the UCI campus. For more information please visit www.anteatersailing.com.
About the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association: ICSA is the governing authority for sailing competition at colleges and universities throughout the United States and in some parts of Canada. To learn more please visit: www.collegesailing.org. ICSA is sponsored by Gill, Annapolis Performance Sailing, Marlow Ropes, Quantum Sails, LaserPerformance and US SAILING: www.gillna.com, www.apsltd.com, www.bainbridgeint.com, www.quantumsails.com, www.laserperformance.com/main/ and www.ussailing.org