AYC Club Championship: Moffitt Wins Again!

Photo by Mike Ferring

Article by Bob Naylor and Mike Ferring

The AYC Club Championship format was radically different, but the outcome was excitingly similar. The repeat winner: Jen Lee Moffitt with Joel Hurley as crew.

Racing Captain Mike Ferring worked on the idea of highly modified match racing for months: something new, fun, edgy, and a little unfamiliar. This year’s champion would be determined by an eight-team double-elimination tournament, racing Capri 14.2s on an “X” course: two laps around a short windward-leeward racetrack. Two boats would race each other, with two races running back-to-back before the next set. Winners would keep racing, while losers would be gone after two losses. Mike recruited Dave Haggart and Tony Chapman to umpire and to help tweak the procedures. Greg Woodcock agreed to be the Principal Race Officer and partnered with Mike to iron out the race brackets.

Our club’s 26 race days at two lakes over fall and spring had come down to this: the winners of each fleet facing off in a winner-takes-all championship. The forecast for race day, Saturday, May 6, was strong—light winds of 5 to 7-knots would soon level-off at 8 to 12, blowing consistently from the south all day long with temperatures in the 80s. A perfect day.

Things turned upside down early when Steve Dolter and crew Dan Steeves discovered a nut for the mast step was missing and the bolt that secures the mast had worked out of the slot. Their race was over and soon they were—turtled and retiring for the day. David Newland grabbed his tool bag, jumped in the boat, cobbled a repair, and we were back in action.

The wins and losses rattled off: Mike Hester with John Mayall over Dan Schott and Alexia Lorch; Martin and Cedric Lorch over Bruce Lee with Emory Heisler. Mike Ferring with David Newland eyed a slipping schedule and decided to withdraw. The wind was constantly fluctuating both in power and direction, keeping the racers and committee adjusting wildly. Lee/Heisler beat Schott/Lorch. Paul Miachika and Gordon Briner beat Hester/Mayall. Jen Lee Moffitt and Joel Hurley beat Lorch/Lorch. Lee/Heisler topped Lorch/Lorch, putting the seven-time Club Champion out of the competition.

The field was thinning into four leading teams: Miachika, Moffitt, Hester, and Lee. Three former club champions and a guy from Alaska. Jen and Paul circled the start line, picking up where last year’s championship left off—a spirited competition, with Jen clinching in 2022 to become AYC’s first woman and first Sunfish sailor Champion. One of the youngest winners ever. Both are experienced, highly competitive dinghy sailors; each had strong crew in Gordon Briner and Joel Hurley. The similarities ended there. Male versus female, Sunfish versus Laser, millennial versus boomer, a 10-year club veteran versus a relative AYC newbie.

Jen led at the start, but Paul capitalized on Jen’s rough tack, taking the lead before the weather mark. Jen closed, dipped inside rounding the leeward mark, tacked into breeze on the upwind and held on for the win. Paul had taken one loss. He was allowed two.

Next, Mike Hester outran Bruce Lee. Then Paul beat Mike. Two skippers were left standing. The AYC finals would be a rematch between Paul Miachika and Jen Lee Moffitt.

Paul started well, clearly led the first lap, but Jen caught up, showing more speed and slicker tacks, and holding a lead downwind to the finish.

What a day! We had it all! Good wind, beautiful sunshine, six hours of racing with Arizona’s very best sailors crewed by more of our very best racers. Thrilling competition, spills and chills, challenges-a-plenty, all supported by tons of great volunteers. Like last year, it was a fun, exciting and hard-fought championship—easily the best racing of the entire year.

PRO Greg Woodcock has many years of Lake Pleasant racing experience and afterward commented that he’d never seen so many big wind shifts in a single day. Racing Captain Mike Ferring innovated to provide a new Championship format, then organized and delivered a fun event. The Signal Boat crew (Greg, Neil Thibodaux, and George Tingom) delivered 12 races over the course of a long, windy day with no errors in starts or finishes despite the challenges of capsizes, withdrawals, equipment redress, and frequent velocity changes and wind shifts.

The Whaler crew (Joanne Aspinall, Tony Chapman, Bob Naylor, and Ron Simzyk) moved marks constantly throughout the day. Maryellen Ferring and Stacey Haggart somehow managed to track all racers in each bracket and made sure the right racers got into the right boats at the right time and kept them fed, snacked, and hydrated. Umpires Tony Chapman and Dave Haggart made good calls and kept the action moving. Joanne Aspinall proved equally adept at pulling anchor line and her camera’s shutter. C14.2 Fleet Captain Ron Simzyk wrangled four donor boats: his own, Lorch’s, Joanne’s, and George Tingom’s. Dave Henning offered a ready spare. David Newland ensured our Signal Boat and Whaler were in top shape for the day and made on-the-fly repairs to 14.2s.

Congratulations to all Fleet Champions on winning their fleet competitions, and to Jen on her second Club Championship win. Greg commented, “Competitors displayed admirable sportsmanship and at the same time, fierce competitiveness!” That about sums it up: Arizona sailors at their very finest.

See more photos by Joanne Aspinall and Mike Ferring by clicking here Championship photos