by Rich Roberts
85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta - Local residents Henry Sprague and Howie Hamlin are leading two of the eight classes competing in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's share of the Southern California Yachting Association's 85th Midwinter Regatta, which opened as one for the ages Saturday.
Mike Martin and crew Ben Benjamin lead 505s at weather mark in first race of 85th Midwinters at ABYC - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
Sprague, 68, tops the singlehanded Finn class with finishes of one-six-one-one; Hamlin, approaching his 61st birthday next week, leads the five-zero-five at two-one-one-two.
View from bleachers at finish line - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
'Henry was pretty impressive,' said Mike Dorgan of San Diego, who is one point behind. 'He's been sailing the boat 40 years. He's 'Mr. Finn.' '
Even his sixth (last) place was a fluke. He had a large lead starting what everyone thought was the second lap of the second race---but the race committee had called for a one-lap race, and suddenly Sprague was hopelessly dead last as everyone returned to finish.
No matter. 'We all thought we sailing two laps,' Sprague said, 'but the thing is we were having a good time.'
Laser Masters at windward mark - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
That, Sprague said, is his lifestyle. He just returned from a month in Florida where he finished third in a national Finn event, 'and the champion---a 20-year-old sailor from Brazil---finished fourth behind me. The Finn sailors in Florida are like professionals. It's their life.'
He enjoyed it despite conditions less than desirable: unusually light breeze of four to seven knots from the south instead of the more familiar double-digit breeze from southwest.
Other leaders entering the final day Sunday included Keith Davids, 45, of San Diego with four-win sweeps in Laser Masters and Lido 14-B, respectively.
Hamlin came close but appears comfortable with a five-point edge over Jeff Candon and crew Reeve Dunn of Newport Harbor YC and buddy Mike Martin and crew Ben Benjamin of St. Francis YC and NHYC, respectively.
Sprague (r.) stalks Dorgan in Finns - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
Martin, the director of rules and umpiring for last fall's America's Cup in San Francisco, said, 'We led at the first mark in every race. Why don't we just end the story there?'
Next Thursday night, a day after Hamlin turns 61, Hamlin and Martin will fly to Australia to compete the together in the JJ Giltinan regatta, the world championship for 18-foot skiffs.
There was one protest Saturday. Stu Robertson moved into first place by winning a port-starboard issue in the day's final race against chief rival Bruce Golison---both ABYC members---that dropped Golison out of the lead.
There are 64 entries in eight classes but no keelboats due to lack of launching facilities during reconstruction of Basin 5 at ABYC. The boats are launching from the beach adjacent to the club.
Racing is in the Long Beach outer harbor inside the breakwater, except for Lido 14s inside Alamitos Bay. Racing will start at noon, conditions permitting.
First staged in 1928, the SCYA Midwinters are the longest-running regatta in Southern California, surviving the Great Depression, a full range of weather and interrupted only by World War II. SCYA and the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce teamed up in 1928 to sponsor the first Midwinters in L.A. Harbor, which was promoted as the sports 'paradise' that Southern California offered in the winter. Until the 1960s all the boats were wooden but some of the sailors were legendary. Humphrey Bogart sailed his Santana to second place in a handicap class in 1947.
Howie Hamlin and crew Andy Zinn lead 505s after four races - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
Class leaders at ABYC
Laser Masters (17 boats; age 35+ with progressive handicap points)---Keith Davids (age 45), Mission Bay YC, one-one-one-one-8HP, 12 points.
five-zero-five (five)---Howie Hamlin-Andy Zinn, Alamitos Bay YC, two-one-one-two, six.
International 14s share the race Course with commercial shipping - 85th SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2014
Coronado 15 (3)---John Richardson-Steve Miller, Santa Barbara YC, one-one-one-one, four.
F-18 (7)---Scott Miller-Patty Miller, Mission Bay YC, 2-8/DNC-1-1, 12.
Finn (6)---Henry Sprague, Long Beach, one-six-one-one, nine.
International 14 (8)---Brad Ruetnik-Garrett Brown, San Diego YC, two-two-two-two, eight.
Lido 14-A (8)---Stu Robertson-Sammy Elsharhawry, ABYC, 1-5-1-3, 10.
Lido 14-B (7)---Bill Moore/Melody Wong, ABYC, one-one-one-one, four.