by Rich Roberts
82nd SCYA Midwinter Regatta - Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's branch of the Southern California Yachting Association's 82nd annual Midwinter Regatta Saturday and Sunday was one for the aged.
82nd SCYA Midwinter Regatta
Jeff Newsome, 59, won the Formula 18 catamaran class but needed a tiebreaking win in the last of five races to edge fellow ABYC members James Melvin, 16, and his dad and crew Pete Melvin, who was on brief leave from his lead role with the America's Cup catamaran design team in New Zealand.
Chuck Tripp, 55 and also ABYC, won the Laser Masters class, the regatta's largest fleet with 12 boats. Four rivals had better basic scores---before the class figured in their handicaps. When Laser sailors turn 35, they qualify for a handicap that improves by five placing points every 10 years.
'The reason I won is that I'm older than these other guys and they have to give me points,' Tripp said, smiling without apology.
There more than 600 boats at 30 racing venues along the Southern California coast and as far east as Arizona. ABYC had 59 boats in nine classes, enjoying brilliant sunshine on what Tripp described as 'a chamber of commerce day,' although the wind never topped 7 knots and thermometers flirted with 60 degrees---balmy by current U.S. weather patterns.
Two veterans, Gary Lee and Dan Denning, from San Diego's Mission Bay Yacht Club, won the hyperactive 505 class, albeit in the absence of two class world champions from ABYC, Mike Martin and Howard Hamlin.
Lee, 59, said he has been sailing 505s only 'four or five years . . . we didn't beat Mike or Howie today, but he did OK for a couple of old guys.'
Tripp suggested that age and the experience it brings sometimes works in a sailor's favor.
'What was a benefit to us was the current coming across the course,' Tripp said. 'I think it was the L.A. River coming down.'
Tripp sensed that the Los Angeles River flowing into the ocean from greater Los Angeles after a rainstorm becomes a significant current across the Long Beach outer harbor, where the races were run, and makes laying the windward marks tricky.
Older guys know those things.
The race committee abandoned racing Saturday's activity after two races when a waterspout was sighted and brief electrical storm crashed across the harbor, leaving the Melvins in front in the F/18s overnight with a first and a second, with Newsome buried with a fourth and a fifth.
That changed dramatically Sunday when the Melvins had to restart the next race, scrambling for third place as Newsome launched a sweep of Sunday's three races and was able to discard his earlier fifth place after the last race.
505 (6 boats)---Gary Lee/Dan Denning, Mission Bay YC, (3)-1-2-3-1, 7 points.
Ca; 20 (4)---John Merchant, ABYC, (2)-1-1-1-1, 4.
Etchells (3)---Richard Vaught, ABYC, 1-1-1, 3.
Formula 18 (9)---Jeff Newsome, ABYC, 4-(5)-1-1-1, 7 (defeated James Melvin/Pete Melvin, ABYC, on tiebreaker).
Laser Masters (12)---Pete Drasnin, Westlake YC, 3-(4)-4-1-1-2, 11 (handicap 5).
Finn (6)---Henry Sprague, no club, 1-1-(5)-1-2, 5.
Lido 14 A (9)---Stu Robertson, ABYC, 1-4-(5)-1-2, 10 (handicap 1).
Lido 14 B (7)---Tracy Conn, ABYC, 2-1-2-(3)-2-1, 11 (handicap 3).
Coronado 15 (3)---Vincent Paternoster, South Coast Corinthian YC, 1-1, 2.
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