"The SCYA (Southern California Yachting Association) runs the annual midwinters regatta, one that seems to be one of the largest events in the U.S. with over 600 boats from Santa Barbara to San Diego and East of Arizona". The Open 5.70 fleet was racing one design out of California Yacht club, with 10 Open 5.70‘s that showed up to race Saturday and Sunday in unexpected windy condition – from 10-20 knots! here is the report from the class winner, Michael Gough.
The weekend started innocently enough. I hitched my Open 5.70, Boracic, to the back of the A3, cranked up the tunes and bombed down I5 trying to keep the speed below 80 MPH. Along the way I was thinking through what it was going to take to be competitive against the 9 light air specialists I’d be racing against in Marina Del Rey.
Fast-forward to Saturday morning, sailing out to the racecourse in a building breeze and sharp, slightly confused seas. This felt an awful lot more like SF Bay then the benign waters of Socal. We had enough room to leeward to hit the middle of the line at full speed, stuck to the left hand of the course because that was where the pressure was, rounded first and the windward mark and stayed as low and fast as we could in conditions that let us catch a few waves but never go surf crazy. We maintained the lead for a second windward leeward and started with a bullet. This was going to be easy!
(Later we learned that “the right is always favored in Marina Del Rey.” Our first race result was a typical case of not being swayed from sailing the conditions because of too much information!)
In race two we figured another middle of the line conservative start was in order and this time it was a little less lonely on the left side. The good news was that we hit the windward mark at the same time that local hotshot Viper 830 sailor John Staff did. The bad news was that he was on starboard and we were on port. “Protest!” We kept in contact and then passed him on the leeward leg, he passed us back on the windward leg and then we decided that we had a big enough gap with the other boats to do our penalty turns. (Note to self: practice penalty turns.) We were passed by three or four boats while we were wrestling in irons and then stayed low and fast to get all but two back. John got the win and we finished third.
Josh, my faithful crew, likes to remind me that we have our best races when we have our worst starts. This was no exception. After an embarrassing third row start we picked off a few boats per leg, rounded the windward mark the second time just ahead of George Moll on Sonic and David Brown on Koa. When we crossed the finish line and started home we had 5 points and there were three boats behind us with 11. We were wearing our best shit eating grins when we went to dinner the next night.
Day two had building seas and building wind. I’d say it was 16-18 knots and we were a little overpowered but happy to be in our element. We had a good start and lead at the windward mark, and had a blast surfing neck and neck with Open Sailing Czar Jerome Sammarcelli all the way down the leeward leg. We were whooping and hollering and trading insults. This is exactly the conditions that the boat is design for. Unfortunately, exuberance got the best of me at the leeward rounding. We took one great puff into the mark and were suddenly presented with Semi-Aquatic transom. He was going almost nowhere and we were going about 12 knots. I did what any self-respecting helmsman would do in the situation – I threw the tiller down, avoided contact and launched myself out the boat. The good news was that I had a firm grip on the mainsheet.
The bad news was that when I got back on the boat I realized I had broken the tiller extension. In these conditions it is pretty impossible to sail the boat without one, and I was ready to throw in the towel. But Josh did what any self-respecting crew would do in that situation and started impugning my masculinity and just generally insulting me. Then he started listing things we had in the boat that might help. “Fire extinguisher, flares, anchor… paddle!” We taped the paddle to the tiller and limped up the course, down the course and back up again. We clawed back up to finish fifth in a photo finish that had us just edging past two other boats. Jerome was first and John was second. We were still in it mathematically, but a betting man would have bet on one of them, especially if they saw how hard it was to drive the boat with that paddle.
Luck was with us in race five. The race committee changed the race order and Jerome missed the start. That took care of one threat for first overall. We sailed conservatively, hoping that the electrical tape would continue to hold. Nik Vale on Demonic was obvious loving the surfing conditions downwind and took the win, just edging out John. We limped in a tired fourth, winning the regatta over John and his crew by 1 point. I owe Nik for that one. When we returned to the docks a wonderful gang of Socal 5.70 sailors helped get the boat packed up and considerably humbled, but happy I motored north.
The 570 crowd are some of the nicest and most supportive group of sailors I have had the pleasure of sailing against. The boat is a joy to sail, when I manage to stay in it and the racing is one design at its best. I am really looking forward to the next regatta.