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Southern Spars

The California Cup - Day 4

by Tink Chambers on 22 Jun 2014
Skipper Alex Roepers, rear with black vest, steered Plenty to a pair of bullets on Saturday to turn a narrow one-point lead into a comfortable 12-point final victory margin. Sarah Proctor
Clinging to a one-point lead going into the final day of the California Cup, skipper Alex Roepers and his crew aboard Plenty closed out the competition in convincing fashion.

Roepers steered Plenty to victory in both races on Saturday and turned that narrow lead into a 12-point margin of victory, capturing the California Cup with a low score of 31. Flash Gordon 6, owned by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn, placed second with 43 points.

'It was a pretty incredible day. Things really went our way, 'Roepers said of finishing the four-day regatta with back-to-back bullets.' We got two good starts and had great boat speed going upwind. This team is extremely focused and cohesive. They came out today determined to get the job done and boy did they ever!

Terry Hutchinson called tactics while Skip Baxter (main) and Morgan Trubovich (headsails) served as trimmers on Plenty, which captured the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship last month. Bowman Greg Gendell was the other pro on the boat while Ted Hackney (offside trimmer), Scott Holmgren (grinder), Matt McDonough (bow), Dimitri Simons (pit) and Jen Wulff (pit assist) completed the crew.

'A lot of credit goes to the crew led by Terry Hutchinson. Not only is Terry a great tactician, but he also does a great job of motivating the crew,' Roepers said.

Plenty is enjoying a terrific season and increased its lead in the International Circuit standings with the win. Roepers, who had never won a Farr 40 regatta before this year, also placed second at the Midwinter Championship.

'I'm starting to like California,' he said with a laugh. 'It's a great, great feeling to win two straight regattas. It had been a long time coming for me so I really appreciate what it takes to win in this class.'



James Lyne coached the Plenty team and spent an hour each night reviewing the day's performance. That came after a crew debrief during the ride back to the docks of host California Yacht Club.

'Between Terry and James, we take a hard look at everything we do on the race course and talk about how we can be better,' Roepers said. 'It's a really serious approach to yacht racing.'

Plenty will not participate in the West Coast Championship (July 16-19) out of Santa Barbara Yacht Club because Roepers has business commitments, but will rejoin the circuit for the Rolex Big Boat Series (Sept. 11-14) out of St. Francis Yacht Club.

'We're going to San Francisco with the dual goal of winning that regatta and getting to know the venue for the world championship because that is the ultimate goal,' Roepers said. 'We will stay humble because we know how competitive this class can be. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves and think we're better than we are.'

Farr 40 is an owner-driver class and Hutchinson had high praise for Roepers' performance with the tiller this week. Plenty won four of 11 races and finished no worse than sixth in the 15-boat fleet.

'Alex does excellent work on the helm. It's impressive considering the amount of time he has to commit. His level of concentration and feel for the boat is just outstanding,' Hutchinson said. 'Our focus for this regatta was to simply execute our game-plan and trust in it. We were steady, consistent and really dialed in as a team.'



Flash Gordon 6 placed second behind Plenty at the Rolex North American Championship and repeated that accomplishment at the California Cup. The Chicago boat closed Friday's racing with a sixth and a seventh to fall seven points behind Plenty and six astern of Nightshift.

'We had a couple bad results yesterday, but we came back and sailed well today,' Jahn said. 'We knew it would be tough to catch Plenty, but we wanted to at least get second. We were able to get past Nightshift and the team is very happy about that. We did what we wanted to do today and that feels good.'

Four-time world match racing champions Ian Williams was tactician on Flash Gordon 6, which won a race and finished second or third in four others.

It was a tough final day for skipper Kevin McNeil and the Nightshift team, which posted a pair of eighths and dropped from second to third in the final standings. Nightshift led the regatta after racing on Wednesday and Thursday before barely getting overtaken by Plenty on Friday.

'It wasn't a good day for us. We really struggled. We just didn't have any get up and go,' McNeil said. 'Hats off to Plenty. They sailed a great regatta and deserved to win.'

Skipper Mick Shlens and the Blade 2 crew put forth an impressive performance in posting a dominant victory in Corinthian class. Blade 2 won Race five and posted single-digit results in nine of eleven races in totaling 82 points - 33 better than Corinthian Class runner-up Temptress (Ray Godwin).

'All I can say is that everyone on our boat did a really fine job. A skipper is only as good as his crew and mine was absolutely fantastic this week,' said Shlens, a Palos Verdes (Cal.) resident and King Harbor Yacht Club member. 'These boats are an awful lot of fun to sail because they are so equal. It really does come down to how well you sail, which is the way it should be.'



Shlens joked that the slogan aboard Blade 2 was 'cutting edge.' Greg Tawaststjerna called tactics while the only two professionals onboard - Eric Arndt (main) and Alan McGashan (jib, spinnaker) handled the trimming.

'Mick does a great job of driving. You give him a number and he steers to it. He has a great attitude and is very skilled,' Tawaststjerna said. 'The whole crew did an outstanding job, but we have to give special thanks to our two pros. Eric and Alan are the equivalent of four pros with how hard they work.'

Farr 40 Class Manager Geoff Stagg was grateful to principal race officer Peter Reggio and the on-water personnel provided by host California Yacht Club for running a terrific regatta on the water. Santa Monica Bay came through with terrific conditions as the afternoon sea breeze came in at around eight - fourteen knots from the southwest every day.

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