Humboldt Bay To Trinidad Race Weekend Northern California

by Stephen Buck
The Beaufort scale defines winds of 22-27 knots as a strong breeze and 28-33 as a near gale. Those were the conditions facing the five starters of the 2012 Trinidad race. The Trinidad Race is the annual two day round trip from Eureka with an overnight on the mooring balls at Trinidad harbor. Race Committee for the Trinidad Race was a shared duty for the Commodore and Vice- Commodore for the two day race. As such, trips to Trinidad were a pleasant requirement of the job. I pulled the Saturday watch at the finish line. Strategically, the replica Trinidad Head lighthouse gave a good perspective of Prisoner Rock and the bell buoy which constituted the finish line. I settled in with binoculars and commenced scanning the horizon about 1300.
The effect of the wind on the ocean was striking. The northwest swells appeared to pile up onto Pilot Rock like a stone in a stream. There was a fair amount of “popcorn” and spindrift evident.
At about 165′ above sea level, the “distance to the horizon” formula yields an answer of about 15 miles. A sail would show farther than the horizon. A sail, in fact, appeared on the horizon a bit after I settled in. Meanwhile, I could just make out another sail approaching from the coast side. Garrett Coonrod on the Choate “Free Energy” chose the outer route making a long tack away from the coast. The Melges 24 “Flash Point” skippered by Court Roberts chose to battle crab pots and brave the surf near shore. With the stiff resistance of current and swells, the two leaders approached Trindad from the different tacks. To my amazement, the two sailboats reached the finish area at the same time. The race was decided on tactics, with Flash Point claiming the Starboard Tack rule to force Free Energy to yield the line. Free Energy was immediately blown down wind and recovered nicely to finish 50 seconds later for second place for day one.
While those relieved crews were settling in, I resumed searching the sea south. In the next hour, another sail approached from the seaward side. “Ru- Bun”, piloted by Curt Brown, was making a run for the finish. Taking a good line, the crew and boat slid by the north side of the bell buoy to finish just under seven hours for a third place finish.
Two boats were still out and I resumed scanning. A cell phone call revealed that John Bradley and
Hank Pierson on the F-31 catamaran, “Cathy Ray II”, broke a key component and retired earlier from the race to return to Eureka. That left Doby Class with brand new crew, David, still on the course. Patience was rewarded and Doby had taken the coast route to appear near the surf line. The shore is the sailboats natural enemy and from my vantage appeared to imperil the Muse. Later Doby later assured me that was not the case. The progress of the Muse was opposed by the considerable south setting current and NW swells. Eventually, the sea yielded to Doby and crew David to see them finish 9 hours and 37 minutes after starting the race. It should be noted that David thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
The wind persisted into Sunday and saw three boats finish the second day. Doby Class won day two on corrected time. Garret Coonrod finished first with an actual time of just over three hours but corrected to a third. Curt Brown and crew took second place both actual and corrected. Court Roberts chose the overland route to return due to the conditions. Everyone returned for a race rehash and several pots of chili at the clubhouse.
Now it is time to look forward to the Redwood Regatta on September 1 & 2. There will be signup sheets at the July Potluck for the various roles required to make the RR a successful event. Thanks in advance for helping.
Don’t forget the July 4th Poker Run coming up. Put your best poker face on and get out there!

Photo By: Court Roberts

Race Weekend Survey Results

Here’s the headline from the results of a survey about the number of race weekends racers would like for Lake Pleasant: Five. Five weekends rather than four.

There were 44 responses to the survey conducted July 5-9 and announced on the AYC Yahoo list. Of the 44, 28 said they entered a boat in the Lake Pleasant series last season. Of the rest, 12 crewed and five did not participate.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they preferred a five-weekend series for spring and fall. They drove home the message when we asked what they would do if the series were reduced from five weekends to four:

  • 10% of the respondents said they would participate more
  • 14% said they would participate less
  • 24% said they would participate the same but like it more
  • 52% said they would participate the same amount but like it less.

We also asked about interest in giving prizes for people who were able to race only on Saturdays. The response was lukewarm, with a rating of just under three on a five-point scale. However, since awards for Saturday-only participants wouldn’t affect those who race on both days, it might still be a viable idea.

—Mike Ferring, Commodore



Paul Liszewski Runs for the Border

Heading for a first place finish.

Paul Liszewski and his Hobie 33 crew won PHRF A in the Run for the Border 2 race out of San Diego on June 29-30, beating the second place boat on corrected time by just two minutes after more than 15 hours of racing.

Steve and Christina Campo joined Paul, Paul’s brother Joel Payne and Steve Nahkala on the Hobie 33, Rolling In The Deep. Christina reports, “Paul did an excellent job and Steve and I just loved the experience.”

New Member Introduction

Rick & Linda Gill hail from Scottsdale and have joined AYC after years of involvement with The Northport, NY, Yacht Club. Rick and Linda have served as members and chairpersons of various yacht club committees and Rick also served on the Board of Governors and as Treasurer for six years. Active cruisers, they have sailed to numerous ports in the Northeast on their Pearson 30, then Pearson 36, Pearson 42CC and finally their Nonsuch 30. They have also enjoyed cruising experiences in the BVIs. Rick has raced in various crew assignments, more recently in the Leukemia Cup on Lake Pleasant and the return leg of the New York Yacht Club Race from Newport to Bermuda. They are looking forward to many more cruising and racing experiences

Ralph Vatalaro’s first sailing experience was during a summer NROTC cruise when the XO’s daughter invited the Midshipmen for a day sail on the family Lightning. After that he was hooked—on sailing, that is. After doing his best impression of Ensign Pulver in His Majesty’s Navy, his sailing continued with a series of misadventures over the ensuing years: nearly colliding with a large buoy at night while at the helm in San Francisco Bay, running aground in front of a large power boat in Swan Creek entering Lake St. Clair, being hoisted to the top of the mast to retrieve a lost halyard after a MORC race at Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit.

After moving to Arizona, his sailing adventures continued: being “found” by the Coast Guard in Lake Tahoe (their significant others reported them overdue—late for dinner), a holding tank almost overflowing in Avalon Harbor (had to make a hasty departure), powering their way through the mud in Knapp’s Narrows in the Chesapeake (wrong side of the channel?), returning to port after his crew threatened mutiny if they continued in a squall to Antibes, and last, but not least, being dumped into Lake Pleasant at the leeward mark when the skipper turned before the spinnaker take down. After all of this fun, Ralph is looking forward to finding a boat and getting back into racing with the AYC this fall!

If you’re a new member and have not been introduced through Compass Points, please send a brief write-up about you (and your family) to

Brenda Shears and Thom Dickerson
Arizona Yacht Club Membership Directors

AYC Team Wins Santa Cruz 27 Nationals

The Joe Hagen/John Ross Santa Cruz 27 Gotcha with Al Lehman Jr. and three other crew on board dominated the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals run last weekend (6/29-7/1) at the Richmond Yacht Club at Pt. Richmond, California.

The team was so strong that they locked up the championship after scoring five first place finishes in six races (combined with a third) and sat out the final race. Second place finisher James Clappier finished five points behind in the field of 14.

Our AYC guys had finished second in last year’s championship, run in conjunction with the Whidbey Island (WA) regatta.

Here are the scores.

AYC Sailors Team Up for Catalina 37 Championship

Team Comfortably Numb-LBRW 2012

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!)