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World's Best Master Sailors set to compete at 2023 International Masters Regatta

by Casey Coffin 28 Sep 14:40 PDT October 20-22, 2023
2023 International Masters Regatta © Mark Albertazzi

The 41st running of the International Masters Regatta returns to San Diego Yacht Club October 20-22, 2023. This year's slate of twelve competitors brings together a truly international cast of Master skippers from Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United States. Over the three days of racing, teams will compete using chartered J/105s in a round-robin format in South San Diego Bay.

Historically, this invitation-only regatta has attracted some of the world's best master sailors including iconic names like Elvstrom, Buchan, Burnham, Tillman, Trask, Irish, Harken, North and Holland (just to name a few). This year is no exception.

2023 International Masters Regatta Roster:

  • William Abbott
  • Yon Belausteguigoitia
  • Nigel Cochrane
  • Alan Field
  • Rick Goebel
  • Scott Harris
  • Don Jesberg
  • Gary Jobson
  • Tad Lacey
  • Wolfgang Schaefer
  • Cory Sertl
  • Tracy Usher

This year's line-up includes many returning skippers and fresh faces, too. Returning to the regatta are William Abbott, Nigel Cochrane, Alan Field, Scott Harris, Don Jesberg, Gary Jobson, and Tad Lacey.

One of the most decorated skippers, Gary Jobson, has participated in the regatta three times over the past decade, earning two 4th place and a 5th place finish. His last run was the 2019 edition of the regatta. Jobson returns for a fourth opportunity to secure a podium finish.

"The Masters Regatta is a good test of how my skill level is these days. It's challenging to change boats every race and adapt to San Diego's tricky sailing. While preparing I'm thinking back to past experiences racing in this regatta, recruiting good crew, and actively sailing through the summer," said Jobson.

Brand new to the Masters, Wolfgang Schaefer is traveling to San Diego from across the pond in Germany. Schaefer has sailed at SDYC's venue twice before for the Farr 40 Worlds and another SDYC signature regatta, the Yachting Cup. Unfortunately for Schaefer, the J/105 is not established in Northern and Middle Europe - a potential handicap. Nonetheless, the team is confident in their experience. "We have 2-3 hours on Thursday before the regatta to create a friendship with this boat. That is a handicap and not too easy, but we will do our very best," said Schaefer.

Some of Schaefer's biggest accomplishments include Silver at the 2019 Farr 40 Worlds, Gold at the 2018 Farr 40 Worlds, 4th place in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart (Class One), Gold at the 2010 Sardinia Cup, Gold at the 1983 Admirals Cup, and 1st place at the 1983 Fastnet Race (Class One). In addition to his on-the-water success, Schaefer has served for over 30 years as the German Sailing Federation's Chairman of the Offshore Committee, 25 years as Vice Chairman of the ORC (Offshore Racing Congress) and is a founding member of the Offshore Committee (20 years) inside ISAF, later World Sailing.

Also familiar with the Farr 40s is new Masters skipper, Yon Belausteguigoitia. Belausteguigoitia has been sailing and training on the Farr 40 and J/70 with his crew consisting of wife Eliane Belausteguigoitia, Hector Guzman, Tomas Rosenberg, and Marc Rosenberg. Belausteguigoitia's biggest accomplishments include Silver in the Laser at the Central American Games, and 15th at the J/24 Worlds in San Francisco. Eliane brings to the boat Olympic experience, from the 1988 Games where she raced in the 420.

Speaking of successful women in sailing, the only female skipper on the list is Cory Sertl. Sertl first sailed in the Masters as crew in 2019, and this year as a skipper. Sertl is sailing with her husband, Mark Sertl, along with Jody Starck, Meg Myles, Suzy Leech, Chris Snow, and John Rudderham. Recently, she has been sailing in the Farr 30 in Jamestown, RI, as well as team racing in Sonars, Lightnings, and racing in the Pan Am Trials this past May.

"I am looking forward to a chance to go sailing with some friends who are awesome sailors in a fun format," said Sertl.

Sertl comes with an accomplished sailing background including 1st place for Team NYYC at the Grandmasters Team Racing 2023, 1st place at the IC37 North American Championships in 2021, and is a two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

Tracy Usher joins the International Masters Regatta for the first time this year. Usher is best known as an ILCA (Laser) sailor having first started in 1974. Besides the ILCA, he has spent time in the last decade sailing a J/70 with his wife, sailing Grandmaster Team Race events (primarily club Sonars), and having lots of time as crew on an Etchells.

Usher's team for the IMR includes Jon Andron, Shawn Bennett, Tom Ducharme, Mike Bishop, and Steve Marsh. "We have a great team with lots of experience on J/105s here in San Francisco, and we also have access to a good boat to practice on. Given the team's experience with the boats and with the IMR itself, we will likely focus on crew practices just to get everyone plugged into their positions on the boat, since we have not all sailed together as one group before," said Usher.

A few of Usher's biggest sailing successes through his career were 1st place at the Intercollegiate Sloop North American Championship 1980, 2nd place at the ILCA Masters World Championship 2006 and 2011, overall winner of the ILCA Masters US Championship 2006 and 2009, 1st place at the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race (overall season champ), and 1st in Class with a record time at Transpac 1987.

Finally, SDYC's very own Rick Goebel is new to skippering in the event, but has experience supporting local teams practicing with the J/105 and as an Owners Rep in the regatta. Goebel is sailing with J/105 and Farr 40 regulars Greg Tawaststjerna, Alan Nakanishi (Buddha), Shawn Burke, Steve Burke, and Rob Lindley. Goebel's biggest sailing accomplishments include the 1987 Canada II Americas Cup Team, 2015 Farr 40 Corinthian Season Champion, and winning the 2014 and 2017 Yachting Cup.

If you've been to the International Masters Regatta in the past, you'll likely be familiar with the style and format of the race, and the organized chaos that is the Rotation Dock. Hosting the International Masters Regatta and Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup on back-to-back weekends requires dozens of volunteers and long hours.

Regatta Chair JR Young said, "These two signature events are huge undertakings with lots of moving parts. It takes a small army of dedicated volunteers to make them successful. Boat prep, registration/check-in, change docks, on-the-water umpires, the Race Committee -- all of these include teams of volunteers who give hundreds of hours over 2+ weeks to make this happen. And we can't overlook our J/105 owners who graciously charter their boats to us. We could not have this awesome format without their support."

Many Master skippers are excited not only for the on-the-water competition, but for the camaraderie they find on land, getting back together with buddies of event's past and enjoying the hospitality that SDYC offers over the four days. The weekend kicks off on Thursday, October 19 with the annual event, Taste of Point Loma. Skippers and their crews are invited to join SDYC members at the don't-miss event of the season. Point Loma and San Diego's finest food and beverage establishments take to the Sail Wash Lawn and decks where they provide generous samples of their cuisines! This year will be the 12th running of the event.

Racing is scheduled to begin on Friday, October 20 starting with the 0900 Skippers' Meeting and an 1125 Warning Signal. Competitors can expect to sail in 3-5 races each day. The regatta weekend concludes with the Awards Ceremony following racing on Sunday, October 22 on the Main Deck.

Spectators are encouraged to bring out their boats or hop aboard a friend's for one or all of the racing days on the water! Remember to hashtag #sdycmasters when posting about the event!

Thank you to our dedicated sponsors, who make events like this one possible: Helly Hansen, Old Harbor Distilling, Ballast Point Brewery, Bay Club Hotel and Marina, Chipz Happen, Bella Luna Wines, Southcoast Yachts, and Sun Bum.

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