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Isler conquers Women's Winter J/22 Invitational Regatta

by J/Boats 13 Feb 09:07 PST February 3-5, 2023

First-time competitors in the Women's Winter J/22 Invitational, skipper Marly Isler and her crew of Hope Wilson, Sarah Williams, and Marlena Fauer from New York Yacht Club were declared the 2023 winners!

Teams from twenty-four yacht clubs competed over two days in 66 races to award the winner of the San Diego Yacht Club's fifth annual Women's Winter J/22 Invitational Regatta.

Isler attributes her win to the team working together. "Each race posed unique challenges - but my crew tirelessly kept our boat rumbling," she said. "Hope is likely icing her biceps today from her detail-oriented jib trimming. Marlena was an animal calling tactics downwind. She made sure we didn't lose sight of the breeze oscillations even when packs of boats got too close for comfort. And Sarah was constantly adjusting our heel and controls."

The WWIR is sailed in La Playa Cove, with easy spectating from the SDYC docks. In the crowd for NYYC were SDYC Staff Commodore Tom Fetter and Jane Fetter, Isler's grandparents. Isler grew up sailing at SDYC and said, "It was memorable to sail with my teammates on the body of water where I learned to sail. I spent countless hours in my green sabot in La Playa during the SDYC junior program, and it was special being back home."

Coronado Yacht Club won second place, with skipper Samantha Hartsell, also an SDYC member, and crew Heather Furey and Lina Carper. San Diego Yacht Club won third place with skipper Christina Lewis and crew Julie Mitchell and Erika Barth.

The WWIR began in 2018 to encourage women to participate in keelboat racing by bringing sailors from around the country together for a warm Southern California experience in the cold of winter. The regatta continues to grow in popularity and is a sought-after invitation among yacht clubs. Just recently, the regatta won the US Sailing One Design Regatta Award.

Regatta Co-Chair Jessica Sweeney said, "Fierce competition at the regatta made it an exciting event, with a final round that featured thrilling moves from the top competitors." She noted it's the social events that set the regatta apart, "The laughter and good times on shore create the unique camaraderie of this fantastic event."

The weekend festivities kicked off on Friday, February 3 with a Commodore's welcome reception, which allowed competitors and Club members to meet. Participants and volunteers enjoyed yoga, paddle boarding, and pickleball throughout the weekend. Saturday night's competitor's dinner gave teams a chance to unwind together with karaoke and dancing.

Racing began Saturday, February 4, with light winds that built through the afternoon. The all-women volunteer Race Committee, led by PRO Susi Graff and Race Committee Chair Summer Greene, completed 42 races on the first day, which gave each team seven races. On day two, Sunday, February 5, winds filled in the afternoon, but remained variable, challenging the tactical and wind-finding skills of the teams. After the 60th rotation, the top six teams moved into the gold finals and the next top six moved into the petit finals. They each finished three races to determine the final standings.

The San Diego Yacht Club is excited to plan the next Women's Winter Invitational Regatta for 2024 and continue building on this iconic weekend of racing.

Thank you to our sponsors Helly Hansen, Old Harbor Distilling, Sipwell Wine, Bay Club Hotel and Marina, and Ashland Hard Seltzer.

Festival of FUN in San Diego

Craig Leweck from Scuttlebutt Sailing News was on the bridge of the RC boat all weekend long (see above). Here was his commentary on the proceedings.

"Alongside Annie Gardner, I had the lucky seat to provide commentary on the 24 teams that represented Brazil, Canada, and eleven US states. It was a massive privilege to witness an event working, and for reasons I adore.

The racing is held alongside the club dock, on a venue more like miniature golf with its random winds and anchored boats. The opening stage has 4-boat heats using a dozen J/22s, with a social environment on the dock among the teams waiting their turn.

Using main and jib only, crew work is simplified. But downwind legs remained tactical with the decision to reach or wing out the jib. And the race course is short, really short. And it's a busy tempo with races and rotations that completed 42 races on day one - seven for each team.

A clever feature is the windward and leeward marks being massive pink flamingos, which automatically lower the tension, particularly when it is okay to have contact with the head, beak, neck, wings, and any added accessories. A few teams brought along their accessories, too.

I could go on and on about the racing, and the crafty format that uses average points to advance the top teams to the final rounds, but this regatta is so much more than the racing.

The schedule included pickleball, morning yoga, paddleboards, and kayaks, plus an alcohol sponsor helped to fuel the Saturday night dinner, DJ, and Karaoke. Props to Martha Heusler from Bay Waveland Yacht Club... she can sing!

I also loved how the hosted breakfast and post-race events were held in dedicated and defined areas that brought people together.

Fun follows the format, and volunteers follow the fun. This event requires an army, and except for myself and a few others, it was all female. It is notable how an event for women competitors provides opportunities throughout the job list.

As the event has matured since 2018, the temptation is there to provide more 'perfect racing', and possibly slow down on the dockside mimosas. However, I saw a format that was inclusive and enjoyable, yet one which allowed the cream to rise.

And, while the weekend was more than just the racing, I got to watch a lot of it. I was in awe of the New York Yacht Club team led by Marly Isler, as they dominated a very hard race course in the finals for the win. Impressive and well deserved!"

More information here...

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