Friday, August 30, 2019

On the Harbor: Sailing to Catalina during Long Point Race Week

Photo Courtesy
                                                                        By LEN BOSE
I can feel the close of summer approaching in many ways, one is that my body keeps telling me to look for shade and stay out of the sun, along with asking myself how did the days go by so quickly? Another way of accepting summer ending is that I have just completed Long Point Race Week and have added to all my memories of the good times I have had with my close friends in paradise.

It is amazing just how close to paradise we live, just “twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin for me...a tropical heaven out in the ocean covered with trees and girls. Water all around it ev’rywhere, tropical trees and the salty air,” quoted The Four Preps. The race from Newport Beach to Long Point, Catalina is sailed on Friday. Saturday’s race is from Long Point to Bird Rock, which is at the isthmus and returns to Long Point. On Sunday, we race back to Newport Beach. The racing is always extremely competitive, with most of Southern California’s top grand prix sailing boats entering the event. In attendance this year was Roy Disney’s Andrews 70 Pyewacket, Jim Devling’s Rogers 46 Carbon Footprint, Jim Bailey’s TP 52 Destroyer and Dave Clark’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, just to name a few.

This year’s race over to Catalina was unique, because of the southerly breeze that showed up on Friday morning. This allowed us to head straight for Catalina, rather than heading up the coast before taking over in the prevailing westerly breezes. Most of the participants were tied up to their moorings before all the horns and cannons rang out, indicating it was happy hour or five o’clock. Many crews were setting up their sunshades and swimming before the last horn blast.
Saturday’s sail is always one of my favorite sails of the season, and this year was no disappointment. The breeze filled in earlier than forecasted and we had a lot of weather beat up the face of Catalina. With a fleet of 36 boats and the smaller boats starting first, the intensity level is always high if you can cross in front of your competitor or duck behind them. Once around Bird Rock, the colorful spinnakers pop like popcorn from the boat foredecks, the intensity is increased along with the wind speed, as many crews still needed time to clear their heads from the previous night’s antics. The downwind sail is always memorable and the blending in of the beauty of Catalina just adds that much more flavor to the event.

Over the last 15 years, much attention has been focused on the competitors’ escort boats. Boats reaching the status of megayachts await the racing teams with full staff, five-course meals and a three-page wine list, and let’s not leave out the hot freshwater showers for all the crew members. Less than a dozen of the teams go to that extravagance, yet many of us – the little guys – still seem to be having just as much fun as the one-percenters. The event is quickly becoming who has found this season’s most unique inflatable pool toys rather than being on a megayacht.
We have started the tradition of a parade route starting within the smaller moorings and towing our inflatables in a parade route that takes us outside to where the larger boats are kept after Saturday’s race. Here we come with our inflatable docks, ducks, islands and flamingos with cold beverages in hand and infectious laughter. All tied up together and being pulled by a small powerboat. The one-percenters could barely place down their umbrella drinks without spilling them, while asking if they could join in on the fun, or wonder if they should join the commoners. As one of the jesters, it was quite comical, and we plan on doing it up even more next year.

Saturday’s party was full-tilt, because it still felt like I had my jester costume on come Sunday morning during my walk of shame down the trail from the BYC facility to the local pier that leads back to the boat. I recall four pretty ladies referring to me as their dance partner, and with the need to hydrate as one of my top priorities before the start of the last race home.
The god of wind has been very kind to us over the last few years, and we had another great sail home. Some of our harbor’s top finishers were Lew Berry’s It’s OK finishing 2nd overall, Steve Sellinger’s Santa Cruz 52 Triumph in 5th and Jim Devling’s Carbon Footprint taking 6th place. We were a little disappointed in our results. We still had 100 beers onboard the boat, yet our race results were good...finishing in 7th place overall.
Sea ya!
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Jr. Sabot National Championships light up our waters

2019 Jr. Sabot Nationals Photo by Tom Walker
Not going to lie, I truly enjoy writing this harbor column, and as I headed out to the harbor aboard one of Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s coaching boats, which was so kindly lent to me without hesitation by NHYC race director Laurel Dinwiddie to observe this year’s Jr. Sabot National Championships, I was overwhelmed by all the Newport lovin’. After nine years of reporting this event, I went straight into my routine by heading to the coach boats and asking people like Mark Gaudio, Cameron MacLaren and Adrienne Patterson who I should be focusing on in the race. Gaudio has always directed me toward the new and upcoming sailors with the greatest passion. MacLaren seems to find the participants that are demonstrating the most sportsmanship on the water. And, while observing Patterson, you quickly notice the love she exudes for our sport and how infectious she is; the kids just soak it all in and leave her with a smile and the drive to compete...priceless. There is outstanding work by these coaches, and I hope you give them a “well done” the next time you see them at the club or on the water. 
Chase Decker

I also did a little homework before heading out onto the harbor and had noticed that Chase Decker, sailing for BCYC, had good results in the qualification round on the first day of sailing. What I missed was that his brother, Read Decker, who was doing even better. My mistake that I did not interview both of them during the break after the first day of the championships. My sincere apologies go out to Read. I learned that Chase sails a Corsair sabot and has been sailing now for six years. When I asked him how he was doing after the first two races he replied, “It’s going okay, wish I was doing better though.” I then asked about the starting line, which side of the course he wanted and how he felt about his boat speed. “I wanted middle boat then right side, of course, top right. I was not on the line enough and I need to push the line more aggressively. My boat speed is pretty good, I need to improve my starts,” he said. I asked how he determines which part of the starting line he wants to be on? “I see my angle from the committee boat, then see my angle from the pin to decide where I want to start on the line.” Interesting to note that the two brothers tied for 5th in the Gold fleet and only 10 points out of first. It will be fun watching these two growing up...reminds me of the Pickney and Mayol brothers.
Sophia Devling

The next person I noticed was Sophia Devling, and by watching her sail, it brought back lessons I learned about the race course. After rounding the weather mark in the second race in 5th place, Devling rounded a little wide and with good speed to dive down below her competitors, who were sailing a little higher to keep their air clean. Devling had clean air and showed great patience staying on starboard jibe, the whole run, then sailing into the lead. I asked her what she was thinking about during this run. “I just wanted to stay on starboard because I knew the current was pushing me to the mark,” she shared. On this race course there are two marks to choose from, referred to as a leeward gate, whereby the racers decide which one they would like to round. While sailing downwind, I asked Devling why she picked the left mark as we look at them. “I felt that there were more righties and more pressure on the right side of the race course.” Working her way back toward the finish, a competitor who selected the opposite gate, hooked into a left wind shift and appeared to be crossing her to take the lead. When asked why she did not try to cross him, she felt that it was best to tack in the left shift. Keeping in mind that she still had a chance to win if the wind went back to the right, Devling knew she still had second place. As it worked out, the wind did shift back to the right and she won handily. For the second year, I noticed some amazing patience from this sailor who was focusing on consistent finishes. When I asked Devling what she concentrates on to stay consistent, she replied: “Not taking any big risks, just trying to sail my boat well...finding the pressure.” Last year, Devling finished 20th; this year her 10th goal was accomplished.
Aidan Malm

It always amazes me to see the same family names stay on top of the leader boards generation after generation. This is how I noticed Aidan Malm, whose father Jamie has been one of our harbor’s best sailors for many years. When I asked Aidan how his first day was going, he replied: “Alright, it could be better.” Malm sails a Phoenix sabot that had been passed down to him from his brother and was originally sailed by his mother. I asked Malm about his observations from the race course. “Whether you won the boat or you won the pin you had to win aside. There were two shifts coming down both sides of the course and if you missed one as I did, you would get passed. I had a really good start at the boat and I missed the shift to go out right, thought I would find a small lefty closer to the mark. The kids to the right got a puff and got to lay-line before I did.”
Malm felt his boat speed was pretty good, yet he planned on concentrating more on finding that first wind shift. When asked what his thoughts would be returning to the race course that day he said, “Keep my head in the game stay level headed, hopefully, I will get to the top.”
Kingston Keyoung

I found two blue diamonds out on the harbor this last weekend, just like the one the old lady threw back into the ocean. First is Kingston Keyoung, who is 10 years old and has been sailing out of BCYC for the last two years. When I asked him what type of sabot he sailed, his reply was, “I’m not sure.” His goal for the championship was not to get last and when I asked about the starting line he said, “I start on starboard and then tack onto port.” It gets better. How did you decide which leeward gate to round? “I liked the right gate because everyone else was going to the left.” Without a doubt, Keyoung is a diamond and plans on returning next season. “I like the competition, it’s just a fun sport,” he said. It does not get any better than that and he will be a competitor to keep an eye on in the future.
There is one award I am always interested in which is the Jessica Uniack Memorial Trophy awarded to the Outstanding Junior Sportsman. Previous recipients include Becky Lenhart, Charlie Buckingham, Megan Kenny and Madeline Bubb, just to name a few. I heard the story as soon as I got on the water that a participant noticed that a competitor was left distraught and broke down crying, because she was unable to reattach her rudder before the start of the third qualification race. “People were just going past me and just looking, then a girl stopped and asked if I needed any help and I said, yes. She came and put my rudder in for me. Her name is Maddie Nichols,” said Olivia Corzine, who was sailing in her first National Championships. “This helped Corzine get through the first day and she ended up having a great first Nationals experience,” said Coach Cameron MacLaren.

Maddie Nichols
I will call the parents of kids to introduce myself and ask them if I can interview their child. When I reached Maddie’s mother, Melanie Nichols, I could feel the pride of her daughter’s sportsmanship in the inflection of her voice. Melanie was also quick to say her other daughter, Siena Nichols, had won the Iron fleet and she was on her way to the awards presentation. I talked to Maddie the following day, and she explained the situation to me over the phone. “I noticed a girl whose rudder had come out and she had just entered the starting sequence and I thought she would have enough time to put it back in place. When I came back around, I noticed that she was drifting backward, struggling with the rudder and crying. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, no. I then asked If I could help her and she said, yes, so I grabbed her boat and popped the rudder back in. I told her good luck, because I felt really bad for her, and didn’t want her to be sad during Nationals. Nationals is supposed to be fun. So, I thought I would go to help her.” You have to love this story, it puts a smile on your face, right?
I asked Maddie why she likes sailing. “I like sailing because of the different techniques you have to learn, and I like to learn. Two weeks ago, I moved up to C1 fleet which encouraged me to do better in Nationals.” She went on to tell me that she qualified for Bronze fleet this year and was only one spot out of making Silver fleet. “I did better than I did last year; last year I was last in Iron fleet,”  Maddie said. This year, Maddie finished 10th in Bronze fleet, but the way I see it, she is the true champion of our harbor. I hope each one of you shows her that harbor lovin’ she has so convincingly earned.
Sea ya!
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.

Friday, August 09, 2019

FOR SALE: 2000 35' Duffy "DownEast Style" ASKING $ 230,000

When you first approach this Custom Down-East style Lobster Yacht you will think to yourself “ I FOUND IT”. PLEASE take a look at the time and attention to detail this yachtsman has completed. With new head, raised salon settee, double berth in owners stateroom, custom cockpit settee and fresh bottom paint.

THE YACHT YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR.” Yes, you have found it, now all you have to do is make an appointment to view this fine yacht. For the West Coast buyer, the good news is you do not have to fly back East and truck the boat back. For the East Coast buyer I will pick you up at the airport. Either way the first person to see this fine yacht will make an offer.
These vessels are famous for their sea-keeping and maneuvering ability in strong winds and currents. Boat builders from Maine really know how to build some of the best yachts in the world.

Friday, August 02, 2019

A different perspective from the 2019 Trans Pac.

Horizon Trans Pac 2019 Photos Courtesy of
I have just returned from this year’s Trans Pac race from San Pedro California to Honolulu Hawaii 2,100 miles across the never-ending dark blue Pacific Ocean. We completed the race, aboard the Santa Cruz 50 Horizon, in 9 days 6 hours and 39 minutes which is very close to a new record for this type of boat. We placed 2nd in class and 7th overall out of 95 entries, only 12 minutes out of first place. I’ve lost a Harbor 20 race, in our harbor, by more than 12 minutes before.
I won’t bother you with the races finer details or “gremlins” as we called them on the boat. For example, a wave coming threw the galley hatch and landing on the laptop and frying it, which lead to a very unhappy navigator who mentioned the possibility of that happening before the start of the race.  On the second night, we had a shiv, at the top of the mast, blow apart which chafed through one of our new halyards. Next was a type of “Who done it” when a crew member decided to open the holding tank on the boat which quickly overflowed. Our gremlin then decided to drop a winch handle in the wheel well, during a maneuver, and lock up the wheel which spun the boat out of control and we blew up our new 2A spinnaker. The propane regulator decided to freeze up which lead to missing a dinner one night, this was fixed the following morning. Then to top it off, the wind Instruments decide to crash the last five hours of the race. Most of these gremlins were caused by bad preparation on my part and have been noted. Just when I thought I was getting pretty good at this, there is always more to lean.

Gremlins where jumping from boat to boat and our problems were minuscule to many other competitors. The Santa Cruz 70 OEX had catastrophic rudder failure that caused the vessel to take on water and finally sink. Fortunately for OEX Mighty Mouse, Roy Disney on Pyewacket, was a couple of miles behind them and retrieved the crew on OEX from their emergency life-raft and saved the day! Nothing to joke about, Roy Disney saved nine sailors from the cold blue 200 miles off the California Coast and withdrew from the race and returned to Marina del Rey. Unbelievable seamanship by both crews with no loss of life. On the vessel Lucky Duck, a crew member was changing the propane tank on the stovetop and caught himself on fire 100 miles from the finish. He spent five days in the Hawaiian hospital and is doing fine, in fact, he is bringing the boat home as I write. Many boats retired from the race because of rudder problems and if that was not enough two days after the finish the skipper of Chubasco Jim Lincoln passed away in his sleep at the age of 61. The crew of Chubasco was left speechless and deeply disturbed by the loss of their friend. I met Lincoln earlier this year and was then always greeted by him with a big smile and a welcoming hello as if he was reaching out over the water to shake your hand. It goes without saying, Lincoln will be missed by many.

With all that being said let’s talk about the highlights of the race. During the race, I compared the race to a type of video game with the start of the game being relatively difficult then somewhat easier before the grand finale when everything is thrown at you at once. The race starts off easy with the light westerly breezes escorting you past Catalina and out to the outer waters where you are then greeted to 20+ knot winds and step waves. In full foul weather gear, the boat moving similar to a bucking bronco and water going over your head one hangs on for two days of hell, living sideways. In fact it is almost more dangerous inside the boat than outside in the darkness of the night. Trying to antiquate yourself to the watch system, the first time you hit the rack it is difficult to get any sleep. Then while preparing yourself to come on deck and being onetime to start your watch one needs to keep one hand on the boat and the other to put on all your gear. A couple of nasty falls occurred down below during this time of the race fortunately, no one was hurt just a little bruised and embarrassed. Then at the end of two days into the race, one is quickly remembered why we do this to ourselves. The breeze moves more behind us and the boat gets much flatter and more stable. The next 7 days are filled with warm downwind sailing with the large spinnakers up and surfing down the faces of the large Pacific waves. Life does not get better than that.

With the full moon rising in the east while the sun is setting in the west for the first part of the race we always had good light which makes sailing that much easier. For the first time, I saw a moonbow, not a rainbow or a Len Bose a moonbow. With the full moon up and a passing rain squall, one would see a moonbow I’ve never seen one before. Or course the stars are so close and clear it feels like you can reach touch them or you are in a virtual game flying between the stars. Just as one starts to relax and taking this all in the video game starts again by throwing a few obstacles in front of you like large floating trees or other types of large flotsam that if you struck might ruin your whole day. As we pushed on into the warm tropical trade winds the  moon would raise a little later each night and the breeze would build into the mid-twenties and it would get so dark that you could not see the person next to you. Just about then the navigator would inform us it was time to gybe the boat which is a rather complex maneuver intensified by the increased wind, sea state and of course the darkness. While driving the boat through these maneuvers thoughts of waiting for the moon to rise or why did we not do this before the sun went down crossed my mind. I took a deep breath looked up into the stars and brought my head back down and told myself I got this. All those dark gybes we nailed and I mumbled to the navigator “ You sure know how to test my skill level.” Knowing that I still got it or maybe even better than the past does place a rather large smile on my face. Now, if it was only easier to put my left shoe on I would feel like I was in my early thirties again. 

We are closing in to the finish with a narrow lead and about 300 miles to the finish. When the game kicks it up a notch or four and starts throwing everything it has at us. In the darkness of night, these low altitude clouds called squalls start attacking you making the wind jump from the low teens into the thirty’s within a few seconds then dumping buckets of rain on you just to make it that much easier to see and raise the intensity level on the boat. These squalls appear to be dark bowling balls rumbling down the lane behind you to knock you over like a pin. Believe it or not, this is fun to us, to be that last pin standing and extend or gain back the lead in the race.

Two good nights of fighting the squalls and noticing that your competition is gaining on you make you dig deeper. Now there is one small bit of water before you that will challenge you, that bit of ocean is referred to the Molokai Channel. The wind increases to the low 30’s the sea state is most challenging with the waves suddenly increasing in size as they bounce off the different islands around you. If you have ever seen the Wedge break it’s like that. You are setting up for a nice wave then all of a sudden it is three times the size. If that’s not enough add in the commercial boat traffic and having to contact them on the VHF radio to make sure they see you and cross safely in front or behind you. OK, I got this, then 5 miles out, if you are fortunate, you are finishing during the daylight and the photography helicopters show up. One can get a little distracted yet needs to be alert not to get hit by a big blast of wind between CoCo Head and Diamond Head called a Williwaw. Yes, the Hawaiians have a name for this sudden burst of wind. Now you just have to bring the boat past the red channel buoy, red right returning, at the Diamond Head Light House and it’s all Mai Tai’s from there.

Already looking forward to the next version of this game.

Sea ya