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Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta - Overall

by Betsy Crowfoot 14 Mar 2023 17:49 PDT March 10-12, 2023
Univ. of Hawaii win the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta © Sharon Green /

In the final day of racing at the 15th Annual Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta, Univ. of Hawaii unseated defending champion California Maritime Academy and captured victory. Univ. of Rhode Island finished second, with Maine Maritime Academy third.

Wide-ranging conditions tested the 10 teams who competed in this three-day intercollegiate invitational hosted by Los Angeles Yacht Club. Friday was cold and gusty; Saturday saw a long period of drizzle and light air that postponed races for nearly four hours; and today broke with a light fog that cleared to a cool, brisk and breezy finale.

No one competitor dominated the event, which drew sailing teams from the top universities and academies across North America. Defending champion Cal Maritime had led after Friday's two races; overtaken by Maine Maritime on Day Two. But today Hawaii continued to scrap their way to the top in four exciting races.

Despite the early hour - as clocks moved forward for daylight savings time - the breeze had filled by today's start. Principal Race Officer Tom Trujillo determined to complete as many races as possible and give the teams their money's worth.

"All of California has had inclement weather this season," Trujillo said and San Pedro was no exception. "Friday we had a lot of wind and were able to complete only two races, where we might otherwise have put four or five in the bank." The teams and organizers put a lot of effort into preparing for the regatta, he noted, and he was determined to continue the tradition of running, "a great Harbor Cup competition and a good time for all."

In the first race of the day, Race Five in the series, the fleet split at the downwind gate and Queens Univ. took the left side of the course and got launched. The regatta had proved a challenge for this team from Ontario, Canada making their POLA Harbor Cup debut but they persevered and finished that race in third place.

"When we heard about the Harbor Cup we were all really excited to try to do it, and are happy we got the invitation," said skipper Samuel Rizk. "It's been a great weekend of sailing! Tthey're very well organized with a lot of volunteers; we were really well taken care of. And the sailing itself was really fun," Rizk added. "Our team doesn't own any keelboats, so we had a bit of a learning curve. But I think we learned a lot as a team and definitely want to come back."

PRO Trujillo was resolute, swiftly rolling into each successive race; only slightly deterred by a general recall in Race Six. At the restart half the fleet was called OCS. California Polytechnic, Cal Maritime, U.S. Navy, Univ. Maryland and U.S.C.G. got off the line cleanly, with Navy leading the fleet around the course and Cal Poly nipping at their transom.

First place finishes in Races Five and Six saw Navy poised for success. In eight of the past 15 years Navy has had a podium finish at this event. Cal Poly took second, a steady improvement for this somewhat newcomer to the POLA Harbor Cup regatta.

"We have definitely really improved since we first came to the Harbor Cup," said Jack Kisling, helmsman and co-captain with Kai Ponting. "The racing is really close, and in each race you are fighting for your spot, but our team pulled through. We had some things go wrong but we really know how to rally and recover."

"It's really cool racing against other schools from the east coast and Canada. We enjoyed meeting people from different backgrounds and made some good friends," Kisling added. "This whole regatta is amazing, it's just the best all around."

Again in Race Seven half the fleet was OCS, including several of the frontrunners: turning the tables and opening the door to Hawaii's ascent. With two bullets already under their belt, Hawaii's win in Race Seven solidified a top-tier position in the regatta. Consistent performance in a challenging arena paid off, and their fourth-place finish in the final race secured their victory as the 2023 POLA Harbor Cup champion: their first triumph in the event.

"It was definitely super-tight racing the whole time, and super nerve wracking," said Hawaii skipper Owen Lahr. "We just tried to refresh after every race, take one race at a time." He acknowledged the team's hard work, noting the freshmen were on the bow and upperclassmen aft - including Kelsie Grant in pit: an LAYC prodigy who brought a little bit of local knowledge to the team. "It has been really awesome, it's our favorite regatta of the year."

That sentiment is a common theme among the sailors who come to LAYC for the POLA Harbor Cup regatta each year. The closeness of the scores is testimony to the tight and fiery competition; plus the big one-design keelboats; professionally run races; meals, accommodations and warm hospitality continue to make the POLA Harbor Cup a premier event on the intercollegiate circle.

Overall Results:

Univ. of Hawaii 33
Univ. Rhode Island 36
Maine Maritime 38
College of Charleston 38
U.S. Navy 39
Cal Maritime 41
Cal Poly 41
U.S.C.G. 52
Queens Univ. 58
Univ. Maryland 63 

For complete results go to

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