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2019 Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship - Day 1

by Scott Armstrong 4 Oct 2019 20:53 PDT 4-6 October 2019
Pearson Potts (left, boat #4) battles Allie Blecher in Flight 1 of the 2019 USMRC. © Chris Ray

Skipper Pearson Potts and crewmember Robert Savoie made up half of the winning team at the 2018 U.S. Match Racing Championship at Chicago Yacht Club, under conditions that reinforced the stereotype of the City of Broad Shoulders' other, weather-related nickname.

When Potts, Savoie and their 2019 teammates Lucas Adams and Tim Siemers arrived in Baghdad by the Bay—the late columnist Herb Caen's nickname for his beloved San Francisco—to defend the USMRC crown, they encountered stereotypical conditions for October here. It's nice. Sometimes too nice to run a match race.

Patience, however, was a virtue: When racing began at midday Friday in San Francisco Bay after a two-hour delay, Team Potts posted six victories from seven matches, returning to the docks of host St. Francis Yacht Club with the lead after Day 1.

"We're happy to be where we are, but we're more concerned with how we finish rather than how we start," Potts said back at the clubhouse. "We have yet to sail the perfect race and until we do, we will keep marching."

Patience was also a virtue for the Race Committee, led by StFYC Race Director Graham Biehl. "October in San Francisco can be a little bit more challenging in terms of the regular wind conditions," Biehl said. "And we were patient and let the breeze fill in...we set our course quickly and got racing going."

The regatta thus began in a strong current, an increasing flood, and marginal hiking conditions. More interactive and aggressive match racing took place later in the round-robin as the teams gained comfort with the Bay and the courses. Team Potts, sailing the 52nd USMRC under the moniker of Guardians of the Monohulls, posted four wins before taking a loss to skipper Peter Holz and the Chicago YC group. "[Our] mindset was, 'Hey, we're not the underdog anymore; we've been at the top before and we can do it again,'" Potts added.

The victory for Holz, who posted a 5-2 mark to end Day 1 in second place, over Potts amounted to a small measure of revenge. Potts knocked out Holz last year in the quarterfinals.

By virtue of winning their matchup in Flight 1, San Diego YC's Chris Nesbitt stands in third place ahead of St. Francis YC's Nicole Breault; the two ended the day with identical 4-3 records. Breault demonstrated her knowledge of her home course with some nifty maneuvers around marks, and won her Flight 7 match over Jeffrey Petersen of Balboa YC, who could not recover from a penalty served during that race.

The bottom half of the table lists Bayview YC's Ryan Seago, who took fourth last year in Chicago; Petersen; Allie Blecher of California YC; and Cabrillo Beach YC's Cameron Feves. Earlier in the season, Blecher succeeded Breault as the U.S. Women's Match Racing Champion; Breault had held that title three years running before vacating it to compete elsewhere during the USWMRC.

Similar wind conditions and warmer temperatures are expected over the weekend. To follow the racing as it unfolds, visit @StFYC on Twitter.

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