Saturday, April 09, 2016

Thunder and lighting on the harbor this weekend.

BY: Len Bose

The mooring balls have been removed from in front of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and there are a lot of really good sailors in town this week. Must be time for some 25-cent beers and the 2016 Baldwin Cup.

The three-day NHYC Baldwin Cup, which has J.P. Morgan Chase as its presenting sponsor again, sails Friday through Sunday just off the main dock of the yacht club in Harbor 20s.

This year's teams come from as far away as West Itchenor, England. Five of the teams are from the East Coast of the United States, while four teams are from the West Coast. The West Coast teams hail from Seattle, San Diego and Newport Beach.NHYC has two teams entered named Thunder and Lightning. Team Thunder seeks its third straight Baldwin Cup victory.

Justin "Lawman" Law, the Thunder captain, knows what makes the championship team so great.
"Team Thunder is a solid squad made up of Newport Beach locals who get to spend the most time in the boats and know what the Lido Lift is," Law says on the event's website.

Skipper Michael "Big C" Menninger with his father, five-time Harbor 20 champion, Bill "Dollar Bill" Menninger as his crew are on the Thunder roster. Also for the Thunder are: skipper Brian "The Cruise Missile" Bissell sailing with his wife Perry "Peronicus" Bissell; skipper Jon "Ropes" Pinckney sailing with his wife Gale "White Thunder" Pinckney; and Lawman will be sailing with Jeff "Gordo" Gordon.

The regatta is fantastic not just because of the 25-cent beers. For an especially unique perspective you can almost give your favorite team members a high-five as they sail past the dock during the racing.

The real excitement actually comes from the regatta's format of 4-v-4 team racing. It's best described from the Baldwin Cup website: "Team racing, like most traditional team sports, involves strategy, advanced skill, and teamwork. However, unlike other fleet racing, team racing pits a team of four against another team of four boats. This added dimension forces players to have tremendous boat-handling ability and quick reactions.”

The key to watching these races and understanding if your team is winning the race is counting the place of each of your team's boats and if that number is less than 18 your team is winning the race. This is why you will see leading boats turn around and try to slow down the opposing team's boats making an effort to have their teammate pass an opponent.

Another fun aspect of attending this event is just hanging out with your friends and informing the umpires of their bad calls. Yes, team racing has umpires on the water similar to an umpire on the baseball field.
Quite often you will hear from the gallery, "Come on, ump! Make a call!”

The sailors are the players and they also can hear all of your comments from the bleachers.
Now just blend in the cost of beers and you can almost hear Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Who knows, maybe the Baldwin Cup play-by-play announcers might start playing this tune after the seventh heat each day?

There always needs to be a big shout-out to all the volunteers. This list appears to be over 100 people. From boat owners, race committee, pit crew and housing it takes a whole lot of people to run an event of this caliber.
Make sure you visit for team information and other important features. The short interview with each sailor is a good read. If you want to check the weather conditions, go to the regatta cam link and you will be able to see what's going on at the main dock and across the harbor.

You will be able to find me at the event for some of Saturday and most of Sunday for the final series.

Newport to Ensenada
It's time to wrap up the preparations for this year's Newport-to-Ensenada race. We will be back this year aboard Horizon, and with your luck again we will be trying for a third consecutive overall win.
I will be making my predictions for the class winners in my next column and give you a hint about our strategy.
Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.

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