by Rich Roberts
Mention college sailing and dinghies come to mind, but the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup/Cal Maritime Invitational Intercollegiate Regatta starting Friday out of Los Angeles Yacht Club is the West Coast's exception.
Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup 2011
Ten teams from across the country will sail heavy duty Catalina 37s on an ocean course between the harbor entrance and Point Fermin. Conditions permitting, it's in 'Hurricane Gulch,' there will be as many as 10 races, starting At 3 o'clock Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Counting back, California Maritime Academy, USC and Maine Maritime Academy twice have forged victories in the first four Harbor Cups, while the team perhaps best representing big boats---really big boats---has fallen shy in second, third, seventh and third over the years. Go figure.
Jahn Tihansky, the U.S. Naval Academy's varsity offshore sailing team director, also has been puzzled.
'I am always amazed at how well all the competing teams get up to speed with their teamwork and execution aboard the Catalina 37s,' he said. 'It would be easy to conclude that a team like ours should have a distinct advantage by doing most of our training aboard larger keel boats, but that hasn’t proved to be the case with many dinghy teams representing their schools and doing a very competent job of it. For sure, we would very much like to win the event.'
In fact, Tihansky said, the Midshipmen are arriving with a determined attitude this year.
'Our crew will be all 1/C (seniors) this time around as they wanted the chance to all sail together prior to graduating and moving on with their military careers.'
Skipper and team captain Colin Nevins Branford, Conn., who soon will be advancing into the Naval Medical Corps, will lead a crew of Louis Henry of Boston, trimmer; Katie Davis of Arlington, Va., trimmer; Andy King of Ft. Meyers, Fla., bow; James Chesson of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., mast; Chris Paulson of Kodiak, Alaska, helm, and Dillon Rossiter of Camden, Maine, pit.
Last November against similar competition Navy won the John F. Kennedy Cup---unofficially known as the intercollegiate Big Boat National Championship---on its home waters.
But Tihansky said, 'Navy has been competing in the Harbor Cup since its inception and we count it as one of our favorite events of the year. The hospitality of the LAYC, its membership, Cal Maritime, the Port of Los Angeles as well as our housing hosts has always been first rate.'
The Port of Los Angeles is the regatta sponsor, LAYC is the organizing authority and California Maritime Academy of Vallejo is the inviting school. The Catalina 37 sloops are chartered from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation and are the same boats to be used in the Long Beach YC's 48th Congressional Cup match racing classic at Long Beach later this month.
Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup 2011
Besides Navy, Cal Maritime, USC and Maine Maritime, other returning competitors are the U.S. Coast Guard Academy from New London, Conn. and SUNY Maritime Academy of New York. Newcomers are Massachusetts Maritime, UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan.
Stan Honey, director of technology for the 34th America's Cup at San Francisco next year, will be the featured speaker for a regatta dinner Saturday night. Honey, co-founder of Sportvision Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., was America's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for 2010 after navigating the trimaran Groupama 3 to a Jules Verne Trophy global record. Relevant to mainstream sports fans, his company Sportvision also developed the electronic yellow first-down line for football on television.