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Kea dominates Beneteau 36.7 North American Championship at San Diego Yacht Club

by San Diego Yacht Club 27 Sep 18:22 PDT September 24-26, 2021
2021 Beneteau 36.7 North American Championship © Eddie Frank

The Beneteau 36.7 North American Championship was dominated by Chick Pyle's Kea. The team finished the first day of the regatta with a picket fence and never let up from there. Over three days of racing, Kea earned 7 bullets in 9 races - 12 points overall and 22 points ahead of second place finisher Thomas Shepherd on Kraken.

Pyle attributes their great results to clean sailing. "Success comes a lot easier when you have a good start and clear lanes. We had only two good starts out of nine races, so battling through for clear lanes was paramount. Tactician and SDYC Staff Commodore Bill Campbell's overall strategy is to stay away from other boats and not engage whenever possible. Kea likes to fly in clear air," he explained.

Mathematically, the team could have stopped sailing after race 7 and still won. However, the love of the sport always takes precedence. "We invested the time to sail and it's a sport that we all love. We'd rather be sailing than raking leaves, and we knew that Mt. Gay would still be waiting for us back at the Club. So, we sailed with no pressure but with the same zeal. It was really fun," continued Pyle.

The second place team Kraken, skippered by Shepherd, really started to come together on the final day. The team earned their place, competing against Kea in the front and keeping the rest of the fleet behind them. Kraken finished first in race 8. "We kept towards the generally favored right while looking to balance clean air and covering the fleet, in particular the boats closer to the top. Downwind it was similar and it was important to not get pinned to lay line, making sure we could always work inside and attack. Overall we had a lot of fun and felt we earned our place, but that the fleet made us work for it," said Shepherd.

In third place was John Rickard's Late Apex with 44 points. Alice Martin's Adeline, Peter Cochran's Rode Rage, and Larry Smith's PI were in close competition, finishing tied with 48 points. Rickard's first time racing the boat was in last weekend's Beneteau Cup and this was the first regatta with a full crew. "It was a lot of learning for us," started Rickard. "We were leading the last race today at the last leeward mark. We had a bad rounding at the leeward mark...the last leg of the last race. It was a little bit of a heartbreaker for us," he explained.

San Diego experienced some interesting weather this weekend. The boats were forced off the water on Friday, the first day of the regatta, due to lightning. On Saturday and Sunday, days two and three, the skies stayed grey, and the wind stayed light. Both days started with a short 30 minute delay until the breeze settled in.

Competitors enjoyed the camaraderie of the weekend and sailing in such a friendly fleet. The on-land activities started with a regatta dinner on Thursday, September 23 to kick off the weekend. Racing was followed with a dockside social on Friday and a regatta dinner on Saturday. Sunday concluded the weekend with an awards ceremony and reception.

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