Mastering California in an ILCA Dinghy

By David Newland (Laser Fleet)

The weekend of February 26th/27th found Gordon Briner, Paul Miachika and me off of Mission Beach, Ca competing in the 2022 ILCA California Masters event hosted by the Mission Bay Yacht Club. This event was created many years ago by Nils Anderson and continues in his remembrance. A true friend to the entire MBYC community and a staunch competitor on the course, his legacy remains the cornerstone of this event.

Paul has participated in this event a dozen or so times. It was Gordon’s and my first, though we have raced in other ILCA events with MBYC in the past. They have the dinghy events well organized, right down to the grass lawn for boat preparation and a nice sandy beach for launching in front of the clubhouse. In addition, they have the choice of a Mission Bay course or a Mission Beach course which is in the ocean right off of Belmont Park. All of the ILCA events I’ve attended have been in the ocean, a tad different than Tempe Town Lake.

Eighteen (18) competitors from California, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Texas and Minnesota attended this event and since it was an ILCA Masters event, there were sub-classes based on age that included a handicap. In a nutshell, a Master includes those between the ages of 45-54 and they get 3 points added to each scored race, a Grand Master is 55-64 with 2 points added, and a Great Grand Master is 65-74 with 1 point added. There’s two more classes that did not have participation for this event: Legend class for those 75+ and new for 2022, an Apprentice group for those 30-44. Each sub-class had talent, but it’s worth noting the solid number of good sailors in the Grand Master and Great Grand Master classes for this event.

Saturday’s wind was a steady 15 knots and 1-2+ foot seas with 3 races completed. 4 were planned but an unexpected issue with one of the mark set Whaler’s kept Race Committee from sending us on the 4th. My legs were good with that decision!

Sunday was a little lighter but increased as the day progressed. We were able to get 4 rounds in starting in 8 knots of breeze and concluding in 12 knots. Seas were about the same as Saturday, but seemed more confused or out of phase with the wind as port tacks were challenging.

Congratulations to Dave Leuck, Mark Young and Clay Karmel from the MBYC for clean-sweeping their own event! Paul Miachika finished 6th overall and 4th in the Grand Master class out of 10, Gordon Briner finished 10th overall and 2nd in the Great Grand Master class out of 5 and I pulled a 14th overall and 2nd in the Master class out of 3.

As we debriefed in the parking lot on Sunday with a cold Modelo Especial, Paul said this was the best weekend he’s had racing at MBYC. It was Race 6 that stuck with him. He was leading at the windward mark, with Gordon on his stern, then suffered that feeling of agony when he gave up a few spots during the downwind, then the feeling of success again as he reeled in a boat or two on the final upwind. Paul is extremely good at staying in it for the entire race. Gordon mentioned how tight all competitors were throughout the race. And, the tight starting line made finding a lane very challenging. And all 18 of us found that this group of racers is fantastic on and off the water and MBYC organized another truly special event. Just like Nils Anderson would have expected it!