Going into the sixth Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup/Cal Maritime Invitational Intercollegiate Regatta you figure the other nine teams are gunning for you since you've won the last two. Then, overnight, you learn that a crew member is in the hospital with a medical emergency.
No worries. The Keelhaulers of the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, comfortable with a heavy chop and brisk westerly breeze in the mid-teens, won both races on opening day with hardly a misstep.
They have a four-point lead over Cal State U. Channel Islands, which placed third last year, with two-time winner Maine Maritime third and a pair of possible surprises---UC Irvine's unheralded Anteaters and College of Charleston, making its debut in big boat racing, fourth and fifth.
That leaves the proud likes of the U.S. Naval Academy and USC, a former winner and last year's runnerup, respectively, scrambling in seventh and ninth places.
All are racing Catalina 37s chartered from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation on an ocean course west of the L.A. Harbor entrance, visible from the bluff of Point Fermin Park. A total of 10 races are scheduled through Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting.
Late Thursday Keelhauler skipper Matt Van Rensselaer, the only senior on the boat, learned that spinnaker trimmer Jessica Bernhard was hospitalized with possible appendicitis. But she suggested a substitute: her older sister Alicia in San Diego.
'She called me last night and said she was going into the hospital,' Alicia said.
So Alicia drove north about a hundred miles and jumped aboard while Alicia, 22, while Jessica, 20, taking a turn for the better, went home to Walnut Creek to recover.
'I had a great time,' Alicia said. 'I love big boats.'
Van Rensselaer said she fits right in. 'We've been sailing a lot and can handle sailing in chop and hiking hard,' he said.
They won the races by about 5 and 10 boat lengths. Their only flub was getting their spinnaker down and jib hoisted at the leeward gate in the first race, but it didn't cost them the lead. .
'The forestay got hung up,' Van Rensselaer said. 'Now we know not to do that again . . . to be more conservative.'
The Port of Los Angeles is the event sponsor, the Los Angeles Yacht Club the regatta organizer and host for the West Coast's only intercollegiate big boat regatta.
John Craig, principal race officer for the America's Cup competition at San Francisco later this year, will be the featured speaker for a Saturday evening dinner at the club.
(After 2 of 10 races; no throwouts)
1. Cal Maritime, 1-1, 2 points.
2. CSU Channel Islands, 4-2, 6.
3. Maine Maritime, 3-5, 8.
4. UC Irvine, 6-3, 9.
5. College of Charleston, 5-4, 9.
6. SUNY Maritime New York, 2-8, 10.
7. U.S. Naval Academy, 8-6, 14.
8. Michigan, 7-7, 14.
9. USC, 9-9, 18.
10. U.S, Coast Guard Academy 10-10, 20.
The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy as well as the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves. As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates more than 830,000 regional jobs and $35 billion in annual wages and tax revenues. The Port of Los Angeles – A cleaner port. A brighter future.
by Rich Roberts
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9:12 AM Sat 9 Mar 2013GMT
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