by Rich Roberts
On a day when others scrambled for respectable finishing positions, Matt Struble won his eighth and ninth of 10 races Friday to fly away with his second International A-Class Catamaran North American Championship in four years.
In battle for top positions, Bruce Mahoney (r.) leads Chris Batchelor. They finished 2nd and 4th, respectively
Struble, 41, from San Diego, won this event in Michigan three years ago---his name is already on the Commodore A.F. Di Mauro Perpetual Trophy---but this one was more of a rout. He won the last two races he didn't even need to sail by 3 minutes 22 seconds and 3:44 and, at the end of the day, discarded a third and a first.
'It was a good week,' he understated. 'I guess now I'll take a little time off to play with my kids.'
Steve Kuritz, principal race officer for the host Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, found the best sailing of the week on the outside course off Seal Beach to the south. With southwest winds building from 7 to 11 knots over flat seas with scattered whitecaps, the fleet sailed two races, twice around a 1.7-nautical mile windward-leeward course.
Bruce Mahoney of Houston, Tex. placed a clear second with no finish worse than a discarded sixth, while Bob Hodges of Covington, La. recovered from a premature start to place fifth in the next-to-last race, followed by a fourth that gained third place in the 19-boat fleet from 10 states.
Chris Batchelor of San Diego had his best day with a fourth and a sixth to take fourth place, while Jeremy Herrin of Sarasota, Fla., at 17 the youngest competitor, sailed a consistent string of single-digit finishes for fifth place.
'Early in the week I was better in the light winds,' Herrin said, 'but when the wind came up I surfed through it.'
Meantime, one of the older racers disappointed AARP rooters when his boat flipped on the first upwind leg of Friday's first race. Haywood (Woody) Cope, 65, of Tampa, Fla., lost his mast in the first race Tuesday but this time recovered to finish 13th.
'I got tangled up in my main sheet,' Cope said, still smiling, 'something I never do. But it was a great regatta.'
Cope wasn't the oldest entry. ABYC's Craig Yandow, 66, won a sixth-place tiebreaker from ABYC's Bill Westland.
Struble's victory enlarges his resume, which also includes another side of his talent: ice sailing.
Ice sailing? San Diego?
'I moved from Michigan three years ago,' he said.
He still goes home to do it and has won several national titles, plus a European championship in Sweden, while also competing in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and elsewhere on the Continent. Ice sailing is a big deal in Europe.
What attracts Struble to it, like sailing A-Cats, is the speed … '40 to 60 mph, and I've done 90,' he said.
A-Cats aren't that fast, even if Struble makes it appear that way.
(10 races; 2 throwouts)
1. Matt Struble, San Diego, (1)-1-1-1-(3)-1-1-1-1-1, 8.
2. Bruce Mahoney, Houston, Tex., 2-2-3-(5)-(6)-2-3-3-2-5, 22.
3. Bob Hodges, Covington, La., 3-(8)-6-(11)-4-5-4-2-5-4, 33.
4. Chris Batchelor, San Diego, 6-5-2-(9)-(12)-6-7-7-4-6, 43.
5. Jeremy Herrin, Sarasota, Fla., 4-(10)-(9)-2-5-7-6-9-6-7, 46.