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Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup at Long Beach Yacht Club - Day 3

by Long Beach Yacht Club 4 Jun 09:16 PDT 31 May - 5 June 2022
2022 Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup - day 3 © Bronny Daniels

The third day of the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup came to a close after two flights of the semifinals were completed, leaving all four teams tied at one win apiece.

The day began with more light air conditions, but from an unusual southeast direction which led to the Belmont Memorial Pier becoming a factor during a few prestarts due to the new course orientation.

Seawanhaka Corinthian YC made it through the first two days without a loss, but today faced their first defeat at the hand of Long Beach YC.

"It was tough to get into the semifinals despite our record over the first two days," said SCYC Skipper Christopher Poole. "The competitors got stronger, and the racing got tighter. I made a few mistakes today and they capitalized on them." Chicago YC also managed a win off SCYC towards the end of the second round robin.

The breeze gradually ticked right and built to over 10 knots by mid-afternoon. Stage 1 ended with Seawanhaka Corinthian YC (14-2) in the lead, followed by Royal New Zealand YS (12-4), Royal Canadian YC (10-6) and Chicago YC (10-6) in the final four spots advancing to the next stage. Home team Long Beach YC (9-7) narrowly missed qualifying, finishing the regatta in 5th overall after winning the tiebreaker over Royal Sydney YS (9-7). Racing paused for roughly a half hour as teams swapped boats and settled into their new kit.

The winner of Stage 1 enjoyed the benefit of selecting their opponent for the semifinals, and SCYC chose the Canadians.

"It's been a long time since I've been match racing," noted Terry McLaughlin, skipper for Royal Canadian YC. "And it may be the first time that the lead boat has picked me as their first match of the semis. I remember when I used to be the guy doing the picking."

McLaughlin earned his accolades in the Flying Dutchman class, winning his first world championship in 1977 and the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Long Beach. In 1983 McLaughlin skippered Canada 1 in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which determined the challenger for the America's Cup that year.

The Royal New Zealand YS has been consistently in control all week, losing only four of their sixteen matches in Stage 1. The club held a sail-off in the months leading up to the Seawanhaka Cup, with the winning team represented this week.

"Our team was fortunate enough to win two of the divisions in the sail-off, which granted us this opportunity to be here," said Skipper Harry Dodson. "It was a great day for us today with only one scare at a bottom mark. The boats seem very even and our mentality going into tomorrow is to keep it simple."

Chicago YC Tactician Alex Curtiss was pleased that his team had made it this far, and credited Skipper Peter Holz with getting them into the semis.

"Peter did an incredible job starting today," Curtiss said. "We went the right way and avoided costly boathandling mistakes. We are stoked for an opportunity to win tomorrow."

Curtiss is a Chicago native and local transplant, now running the North Sails loft in Long Beach and sailing frequently in San Pedro Bay. He also holds a Prince of Wales US Match Racing Championship title from 2016.

The semifinals resume Saturday morning on the fourth and final day of racing and will be decided by the first to score three points. With everything tied, all four teams have a legitimate shot at the finals. Although they no longer have a horse in the race, host LBYC couldn't be happier to see such close competition. The top priority is to put on a first-class event for the competitors and spectators from around the world, and it's exciting for everyone to see it all tied up going into the last day.

Robin Broomfield, skipper and Commodore of Minima YC, expressed his gratitude for the invitation and the opportunity to compete for the Seawanhaka Cup.

"Only two of our team members are keelboat sailors, whilst the rest of us sail dinghies on the Royal Thames," said Broomfield. "But this experience has kindled a desire from our younger sailors to get into big boats. The help from other teams has been amazing, and our host accommodations were fantastic."

Minima YC of England was the original challenger for the Seawanhaka Cup back in 1895. The regatta was sailed in half-raters, a boat of about 15 feet, with a Marconi mainsail that was over 20 years ahead of its time.

More information and results at lbyc.org.

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