Nine Arizona sailors joined forces to race in the Catalina 37 National Championships at Long Beach Race week June 22-24. Together they rose to the challenge of taking their mostly “small boat” (14ft-20ft) experience up to this 37 footer racer and they “hung in there with the big boys.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the Catalina 37, it is a monohull sloop-rig boat built specifically for match racing, with symmetrical spinnaker and wheel steering. The Long Beach Yacht Club has a fleet of 11 Catalina 37s and uses this fleet for the annual Congressional Cup, and also (who knew?) allows them to be chartered for Wednesday night racing and for special events like the Catalina 37 National Championship held during Long Beach Race Week.
John Riddell took advantage of this chartering opportunity to see if AYC could rally a team to participate. And lo and behold, John was able to find 9 AYC sailors willing to take on the challenge of getting a bunch of “skippers” to play nice in individual roles and to take their mostly-small-boat experience up a level.
Over the seven-race series Team Comfortably Numb stayed close with the fleet, crossing ahead of competitors in mid-fleet during most races, but fell to the back of the fleet by the end of every race due to lack of experience with the boat and some hardware failures (auto-releasing spin pole-ack!). And in two races, leeward mark roundings proved to be TCN’s downfall where spinnaker douses and jib raising ran into, um, let’s just say “problems.”
No matter. By all accounts, John Riddell’s brainchild worked and all 9 members of Team Comfortably Numb are ready to come back again next year to give it another shot, this time with a lot more experience under their belts. Here’s Team Comfortably Numb’s roster from back of the boat forward…
- Tactician-Trey Harlow (Thistle)
- Helmsman-Rick Johnson (Martin 242)
- Main Trimmer-Emory Heisler (Buccaneer 18)
- Jib/Spin Trimmer-Mike Axtman (J29)
- Jib/Spin Trimmer-Rob Gibbs (Shock 23R)
- Pit-Jason Donkersly (J29)
- Mast-“Little Joe” Barnett (Megabyte)
- Bow-John Riddell (Viper)
- Chef/Floater-Adam Torel (new sailor!)