Friday, September 29, 2017

Harbor 20 Fleet Championship Regatta Report

Gale & Jon Pinckney 2014 Harbor 20 Champions

October 4 & 5, 2014
By Gale & Jon Pinckney, Earth #15

It is important to understand that every regatta is different, and as such it is important to identify ahead of time, if possible, what the keys to success will be. Sometimes setup and tuning for speed are the priority and other times tactics or starting are more important. You could have a deep fleet in which anyone could win or a shallow fleet in which it is a one or two boat show for the win. Every regatta has a different set of circumstances that will determine strategy and success. Once you have correctly identified and committed yourself to the key points for victory, your process for making decisions throughout the regatta has a starting point, more structure, and hopefully you are rewarded with more consistency and better results.

We felt consistency was going to be a huge factor because of the depth of the fleet along with the possibility that we might not get enough races in for a throw out. Starting well would be key, but being aggressive trying to win an end on a small line would probably be too risky over the long haul. With super light winds from the south, we knew we would be racing through the moorings where speed is difficult to maintain as you have to navigate competitors, moored boats, and unsettled winds that just went through someone’s patio. Finally the tough fleet and conditions were certain to put everyone in situations in which they would be behind and have to try to come back. We felt the team that would ultimately win the regatta would be the one that could dig itself out from behind better than the other top teams.

Mast Tune

Our shroud tension was set the way Bill Menninger recommends, which is fairly loose around 16/17. I think that as long as your shroud tension was within one or two turns on either side of 17 you were fine. In general, in light air, you don’t want to be tight which I think starts around 20. Although some of us fixate on it, I do not think mast setup was a big deal this weekend unless you were tight. As an example, I found on the morning of the regatta that my mast is off-center, side-to-side by one inch, and has a significant bend to port up top. Mast Tune 101 always starts out with a straight mast that is centered side-to-side, but we sailed all weekend with it out of alignment, which drove me crazy. Since, as we still seemed somewhat fast, this tells me there must have been more important factors than mast tune in determining boat speed. That being said, I definitely plan to take my mast down and examine the problem further.


Locating pressure and placing yourself in it was by far the single most important item to pay attention to this weekend. When the wind is 2-4 knots, as we had all weekend, the difference is staggering when you find yourself in 2 knots more pressure than your opponent. With four knots instead of two, you are probably going twice as fast and able to point 20 degrees higher. When we sail in the normal 8-10 knots when the wind is filled in across the course, 2 knots more pressure always helps, but it is nowhere near the game changer that it was this weekend. When you hit a soft spot in 8-10 knots, you can still coast and maintain most of your momentum and get going again with relative ease when the next puff hits. Not so when it is 2-4 knots! If you slow down as the result of less pressure, pinching, poor sail trim, steering or tacking, it will take forever to get up to speed again.

With that in mind, the number one priority on our boat was looking for wind at all times. I am always trying to identify where the next pressure is located and what path will allow me to sail to it as soon and as easily as possible. More importantly, since everyone else is presumably of the same mindset, I must do better by identifying where the next two or three pressure systems rolling down the course will be, after the one that everyone else is looking at is gone. I need to know how fast or slowly they are traveling, how long they will last, how much pressure they contain, and once I am in them, will they connect me to the next cycle of pressure systems coming down. Sometimes a smaller pressure line won't look as good short term as a larger one your opponent is in, but it may connect you to the next one or two better. It is easier said than done, but this system of “connecting the dots” is usually the key to winning in our small, shifty bay. While we were always trying to pass the boat in our immediate area, our biggest gains were always made two or three moves in advance using this process.

Pressure aside, we were always trying to go fast, because when you are fast you have more options. This requires keeping the sails a little looser and the bow down footing whenever possible. When you are fast, you are free to tack or pinch, if need be, for a short while to cross boats, moorings, create lateral separation from an opponent to leeward, or to connect sooner with a puff on your beam. If you are slow going into any of the above maneuvers, you lose too much speed and it will take too long for you to get up to speed again. Every decision we made this weekend was based on speed and pressure. We never went wing on wing all weekend (reaching is faster), and we never tried to pinch over a moored boat unless, by reading the available wind, I was absolutely 100 percent sure we could clear it. If there were any doubt at all, we would reach off and duck. All things being equal, I would rather head down and ease sails to a beam reach and gain a lot of speed to duck - than have to tack in 2 to 4 knots.

We made some huge ducks of 20 feet or more on large moored boats or opponents. Maybe in hindsight a tack would have been better. Perhaps we could have gone wing and wing a couple times, too. However you have to accept the fact that of the hundreds of decisions you make over the course of the weekend, you will be wrong 25 percent of the time. When you prioritize all your decisions based on speed, when you are wrong you are still going fast and you still have all your options. On the flip side, when you are wrong 25 percent of the time and going slowly or almost stopped, you will lose way more boats than someone who made a wrong decision but is still going fast. It adds up over the course of a weekend. There is too much at stake in 2-4 knots to risk being wrong when the penalty is slowing down significantly. This is where you typically lose lots of boats as opposed to one or two. Things are different in 8-10 knots, but 2-4 knots is a completely different animal. One other thing I did for speed was reread Jim Kerrigan’s article on the H20 website “Positive thinking about zero to four knots of wind”. He makes some very good points. We did everything he said…except lie down!

Our final key to the regatta was recognizing the winning team would be the one that could come back from adversity and salvage a decent finish when caught deep. Whenever I race, I always study results and find something interesting. In this particular case, I highlighted those come back races as this was where the regatta was won or lost. I try to identify what factors contributed to the problems in the race and how those problems can be corrected in the future. I then calculate the average finish in these races to see how well we were able to come back when we were behind. From there you can also determine what you did right or wrong in your comeback. In our case, all three highlighted races were the result of bad starts. In the start of race one, we couldn’t lay the pin and had to gybe around and start late. In race three, we were over, and in race six, we had to circle back around after getting shut out at the RC boat for barging and again start quite late. I have concluded that the solution for the poor starts is that we need to compensate for the extreme light air by positioning for our final approach earlier and from a better location. Starting near last in 50 percent of the races is not the formula for success, and I will definitely try to apply the lessons learned in the future. We were a bit lucky because if there had been a stronger steadier wind, we probably wouldn’t have been able to catch up as well as we did. The light, fluky winds allowed plenty of opportunities to catch up using the techniques that I described above. Another perspective in looking at results below is that the most important race of the regatta was race #3 as Pinckney and Campbell started the race in last place after being called over early. Menninger is launched and wins the race gaining 12 points on Campbell but Pinckney makes a comeback and only loses a point to Menninger.

Pinckney 7 1 2 4 1 4 Total: 13/3 = 4.3
Menninger 8 5 1 1 4 10 Total: 23/3 = 7.6
Campbell 1 2 13 2 9 6 Total: 28/3 = 9.3

Key to Regatta

Ability to come back and post a good score in a race where you are deep.

Pinckney total score in races #1, #3 and #6 =13
Menninger total score in races #1, #2 and #6 = 23
Pinckney totaled 10 less points in comeback races.
Total overall margin of victory was 10 points.

This was a very tough regatta and we feel fortunate to have won. Sailing in 2-4 knots really is a different ballgame and we hope that sharing with you our approach and debrief is helpful. Also thanks to the always humble Bill and Diane Menninger for letting us rent their trophy for the year!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

On the Harbor: Pitchin’ in for harbor cleanup and interesting tidbits from the Harbor Commission meeting

Bose Family Sailing in BCYC Club Championships 

Fall is upon us and quite frankly this time of year just confuses me. I wake up, it is sunny. I put on my jacket, go out onto the harbor, and I am sweating like an engine mechanic in a bilge, then the wind goes up…I’m cold what are you gonna do?
I’ll tell you what I am gonna do, I plan on doing my mechanic impression Saturday, September 30 and take part in the “The Harbor Cleanup Event.” Registration is at 9 a.m. at the Balboa Yacht Club, Trash Collection from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a BBQ from 12:30 to 2 p.m. BYC in association with the Ben Carlson Foundation is conducting a harbor cleanup day. The event is BYOV (Bring Your Own Vessel). You will need to have access to a dinghy, kayak, paddle board or other vessel to participate. If you need a kayak, contact the sailing center at Marina Park. I am sure they will be glad to rent you one. Nets will be provided. Not sure who’s idea this is, but WELL DONE! The chairperson of the event is Carrie Robertson, so odds are good it was her idea. If the Harbor Master gave out awards, at the end of the year each year, this one would have to be a favorite.
H20 Fleet 1 Championships

Speaking of favorites, the Harbor 20 fleet championships are on the same weekend as “The Harbor Cleanup Event,” September 30 and October 1. The early favorites in C Fleet are PJ and Mike Kohl, B fleet is anyone’s call. I am going to go with Gretchen and Richard Loufek. A fleet is much easier to pick: Diane and Bill Menninger are the heavy favorites, although there will probably be 17 other sailors bringing their best game. My gut tells me it is going to be a memorable weekend.
I attended the Harbor Commission meeting on September 13 with a couple of items on the agenda catching my attention. Because it is fall already, the discussion regarding standup paddle boards (SUP) might be forgotten until next summer, but with the drowning of a SUP user in Huntington Harbour last month this item could not be overlooked. Topics included quick safety lessons and mandatory lifejackets. This seemed like a wasted effort because who is going to listen or comprehend a quick safety lesson then place on a lifejacket on a hot sunny Newport day? In my opinion, the best idea came from Harbormaster Dennis Durgan when he asked, “Why don’t we require SUPs to wear a leash?” Key word here is wear and it seems to be an easily obtainable solution.

Coyote models
Next up, was the harbormaster report with most of it passing through one ear and out the other although two items took hold. Sea Lion Abatement was one item. I cannot think of anything that looks worse, on the harbor, than boat owners placing random netting and gallon buckets from Home Depot around their boats in an effort to deter sea lions. Nothing makes the phone ring more at the harbormaster’s office than when we have a large group of sea lions that are barking all night, what are you gonna do? The answer right now is coyote models, works like a charm. I first noticed them at the San Diego Yacht club about two years ago and finally figured out what they are for. If I had a boat on a mooring or a waterfront home, I would not hesitate to purchase a coyote model as a sea lion deterrent.
The next item that has been barking for attention for years, is harbor code enforcement. While showing a boat this week, I watched Newport Beach code enforcement officers place notices on nearby boats notifying them that they must cease and desist their Airbnb ads. Harbor operations workers have also been attaching courtesy notices on the dinghies that have been staying on the public docks too long. I have also watched code enforcement officers joining harbor operations on ride alongs. It’s all good and long overdue in my opinion.
New Public Pier

Talking about public docks, next time you are over at Lido Park, next to the Elks Club, notice the new public dock off of Central Avenue. The concept for this dock is for 35’ foot or smaller vessels to tie up for up to three hours and go to West Marine or the local restaurants.
My “Silly” Idea of the Week: Lets re-consider disregarding fishing line canisters that we see in other harbors for fishermen on our public docks and highly used fishing areas like along the railing across from the new public dock to dispose of their line rather than throw it into the water.

The start of Lobster Season

For me, I am hoping I still have my mojo after winning the BCYC club championships sailed in Harbor 20’s last Sunday. This weekend is the two warm regattas with the fleet champs at the end of the month, wish me luck! 
Sea ya’
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.

Friday, September 22, 2017

BCYC 2017 Club Championships "This is how we do it"

Commodore Check Wert and Rear Commodore Steve Moffett

September 17, 2017 Newport Beach. A thin coated marine layer produced a slightly humid Sunday afternoon over Newport Harbor last weekend were twenty teams showed up for the The Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club 2017 Club Championships sailed in Harbor 20.

Sunday was split up in two divisions The Family Championships and the Club Championships. By far I enjoy the Family Championships because it brings out everything that is good about our sport and our yacht club. If you can head over to now click onto the link for the 2017 BCYC Club Champs these photos, provided by, provide a thousand different stories.
No Ketch-up?

One of the first photos you will find is of Katie and David Levy with their two daughters Emily and Harper. We rounded the weather mark and the Levy family was just next to us trying to place themselves in a good position to the rapidly approaching leeward mark. I look over and both Emily and Harper are in full melt down mode, Katie is trying everything thing she can to calm down the kids and still stay in the race. Looks like Katie had McDonald’s french fries onboard as an early go to, classic. I am sure next year Katie will not forget the ketchup.
Arnold Crew

The next memorable moment came in the second race when Kathie and Eddie Arnold, with two very young junior members, crossed the fleet to lead into the weather mark. “ We are winning, we are winning” they screamed with excitement as Eddie, filled with his own excitement tried to shush them.

Next was Erik Lidecis sailing with his two teen age sons that you can tell from the photos that it was not their idea to race in this event. We too had our own moments aboard Only Child, seems my son had a little to much fun the night before and being on a boat with his parents was not his first choice for that Sunday. 
Team Lidecis

Guy Doran had his brother and sister joined him, I recall hearing Dorans brother comment that he had not been sailing in years. The Johansson family did it right with all four members of the family sailing together. Daughter Zoe Lynn at the helm while her bother Jake Arne handled the sheets. Mom and dad where just there for the photo ops and drive too and from the club. 

The races where sailed out in the five point area of the harbor with the last race of each division finishing with a cannon blast in front of the club. We had a little breeze for the five races of the championship series with the breeze not shifting as much as it did in the family division. The team of Bose and Gaudio seemed to have figured out the puzzle of the day and took home the golden pickle dish this year. Team Levy placed second in the Champion division and won the Family division. Team Levy had won the Champion Division trophy a couple of years back and now was the first team to have placed their names on both trophies. 
Commodores just want to have fun!

Anyway you look at it this event it was a success and we all hope that next year you will put it on your calendar to join in on one fantastic way to spend a day on the water. Please do take a look at all the great photos Bronny took.

Sea ya 

Len Bose

This is how we do it!

Monday, September 04, 2017

On the Harbor: Summer sailing season will soon be behind

It's Raab by a nose!
Just like that and the 2017 summer sailing season has come to a close. Like always, the early warning signs were out with the closing of the Orange County Fair, football season starting and the arrival of Halloween candy on the store shelves.
The events that have fastened to my mind this summer are the Transpac race, Sabot Nationals, Lido 14 Championships, Taco Tuesdays at BCYC and NHYC Thursday night Twilight races.
I have already talked about the Transpac race this summer and, yes, I am still carrying around a big smile for winning our division in this year’s race to Hawaii aboard Horizon. I also have happened to notice a couple of other people around the harbor with the same type of smile.

Jake Mayol 2017 Sabot Champ!
Looking all the way back in time to 1948, less than 15 people have won the Junior National Naples Sabot Championships, Nina Nielsen Memorial Trophy, more than one time. This year BCYC member Jake Mayol is one of these 15 people. Mayol had to earn it with close racing down to the end, sailing on Mission Bay the first part of August. Peter Busch and NHYC member Erik Hou were all within three points of each other at the end. Other Newport Beach sailors did very well in this year’s Sabot Championships: Morgan Pinckney finished fourth, Sophia Devling was sixth and Gray Hemans was 10th. An outstanding performance from these junior sailors.
I was humbled by the names of the past repeat winners on the Nielsen trophy: Charles Merrill, Jerry Thompson, Earl Elms, Brian Thomas, Nina Nielsen, John Shadden, Jim Otis, Bill Hardesty, Tyler Sinks, Jake La Dow, Max Brill and now Jake Mayol. Very impressive, Mr. Mayol – for a job well done.
Out on the harbor in mid-August, the 2017 Lido 14 Championships were sailed with 31 boats showing up looking for a shot at the title. Friday, the first day, was a qualifying round splitting half the fleet in Silver and Gold Divisions. The favorites quickly moved to the top of the fleet, all past Lido 14 Champions. Mark Ryan had a small lead after the first day of racing followed closely by Mark Gaudio. Chris Raab, a top favorite, had two forgettable races on Saturday and fell to the back of the pack after six races. Sunday started with Gaudio taking a comfortable lead, if you can imagine a horse race announcer calling the race when the horse in the back breaks to the outside and quickly moves through the pack. That horse was Chris Raab and he flew through the fleet taking three firsts and a second in the last four races to win by a nose. I was out on the water spectating and it was some of the best racing I have watched in a long time. Other teams to watch were the 17-year-old Porter Killian, sailing my Lido, taking 4th and Jeff Lenhart, the 60-year-old who still knows how to hunt in these physical boats grabbing 5th place. I learned a lot by watching this regatta and hope to bring some of that knowledge with me into the upcoming Harbor 20 Fleet championships this year.
Speaking of the Harbor 20s, we have wrapped up our summer sailing season with BCYC Taco Tuesdays and NHYC Thursday night Twilight races. For me, Taco Tuesdays is the big night with 37 races this summer. In C fleet, with 15 boats competing, Robert McDonald showed that he wanted to take the entire summer series by putting in the best effort, and turning in his taco for the whole enchilada. In second and third place this summer were Richard Somers and Emile Pilafidis. In B fleet, there were 10 boats competing with Cole Pomeroy punching in his time card and taking the overall win. He was followed by PJ Kohl in second and Debra Haynes in third. No one wanted A fleet more than Mark Conzelman who made sure his boat was on the race course for every race with him and some of our harbor’s best at the helm. Conzelman crushed the fleet this summer with me garnering second and Gary Throne taking third.
NHYC Thursday night Twilight Series had 41 boats sign up this summer and 28 races. The Twilights are split up with monthly winners and the competition is intensified from Tuesday nights. Top finishers in C fleet this year were O’Sullivan, Twist and Swigart. In B Fleet it was Hause, Springer and Haynes. A fleet has Conzelman, Bissell and Menninger winning the golden ticket each month.
So, what’s coming up in September? We have the BCYC Club Championships on the 17th with Family and Champion divisions sailing in the Harbor 20s. There are also two Harbor 20 high point races that prepare the fleet for the upcoming championship during the first part of October.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m., the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Marine Committee meeting at Marina Park will have our new Harbormaster Dennis Durgan review the progress made in the harbor.
For my paddleboard readers, make sure you have your life jackets on or attached to your boards. Rumor has it that the authorities are ticketing people without their life jackets.
With the summer sailing season over, I am hoping to get back on schedule and provide two columns each month. I have some good ideas … so please stay tuned.
Sea ya’
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.