|Young sailors take part in the 2014 Junior Sabot National Championship. (Len Bose, Daily Pilot / August 8, 2014)|
By Len Bose
August 8, 2014 | 5:12 p.m.
This week on the harbor it was all about the Jr. Sabot National Championship and the nearly 150 boats attending from around Southern California.
On Monday and Tuesday, the participants, ages 7 to 17, raced in a qualification series and a fleet selection series. Thirty did not qualify for the championships and sailed in front of the Lido Isle Yacht Club in the Cove Cup.
Tuesday was the flight selection determined by the kids' performances on the race course. The most advanced sailors qualify for gold flight, then silver, bronze and iron. Each flight has about 30 boats.
Organizing everything on the water was John Fuller, principal race officer and the Newport Harbor Yacht Club fleet captain. From my count there where 34 races over the four-day event.
When I approached Fuller, he informed me that the event was moving along smoothly and that the tug, moving the scow through the harbor, was going out of its way to make things easy.
"You should have seen the breeze on Wednesday," Fuller said. "We had four boats flip over, and the kids righted their own boats, bailed the water out and continued racing."
I've known Fuller a long time, and it was obvious he was having a good time.
I felt privileged to be able to observe the races from the water, because tight rules are intended to keep parents off the race course to limit the traffic. I must have been approached five times asking me if my kid was racing and what I was doing so close to the race course.
What I was doing was looking for the sailor who exuded that fresh passion for sailing: not necessarily the winner of gold fleet, but the person who is just starting out but already is overflowing with love for the sport.
|Abby winning her race|
I found that person in Abby Hampton, 11, who was sailing out of the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. She has been sailing for four years, and her boat's name is Skippy Too. I first noticed her at the start line of the bronze flight, during the second race on Thursday.
With a smile on her face and concentration in her eyes, she rumbled down the starting line, hit the first wind shift and ran away from the fleet. I could see she had a plan and was sticking to it. When the race got a little closer to the finish, she kept her cool and stayed between her competition and the finish line to secure her win.
"I thought I did really well today," she said. "It was light wind and I like the light wind."
This was Abby's first Jr. Sabot Nationals where she placed sixth in bronze fleet.
"This regatta was really fun," she said, adding that she plans to continue sailing Sabots and then move up to the Club FJ's.
Other top local finishers in iron flight were Trenton Bashaw in third and Shaye Wattson in fourth. Cole Pomeroy was first and Michael Gaffney second in bronze. Joshua Means was first and Jonathan Chance third in silver. Joseph Hou was second and the Mayol brothers, Max and Jake, took third and fourth in gold, respectively.
This year's champion was Max Brill, sailing for Mission Bay Yacht Club.
For photos of the event go to my blog, lenboseyachts.blogspot.com.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.