January 17, 2012

Viper 640 West Coast Championships #1

Ullman Centerboard Regatta
Leukemia Cup

This past weekend Arizona Yacht Club played host to their annual Leukemia Cup regatta, also known as the Birthday Regatta.  There was an added incentive this year as Ullman Sails Newport Beach sponsored Friday’s Centerboard Challenge.  The Portsmouth, PHRF and Viper Fleets all turned up to do battle for centerboard dominance.  The Viper fleet also included the day as part of their Leukemia Cup series.  The wind was strong in the morning, but the afternoon included a 180-degree shift and light air, which made for an interesting and challenging racecourse.  Results from the Ullman Centerboard Regatta are located here!

Saturday was the official beginning of the Leukemia Cup regatta and all the scores were reset to zero, excluding the Viper 640 fleet who were now halfway through their first stop on the Viper 640 West Coast Championship Series.  Over 60 diverse boats participated in what turned out to be an amazing weekend.  Buccaneer 18, Merit 25, Montgomery 17 and the Viper 640 all had one design fleets with individual starts.

Once again I was lucky enough to be racing a Viper with Jim Sears as we started our quest towards the West Coast Championship Trophy!  Jim was not able to make it Friday as work commitments required his attention (someone has to pay for these adventures!) so I was fortunate enough (or so I thought) to skipper the boat for the day.  A good start and top-three mark rounding followed by a malfunctioning spinnaker halyard quickly sent us back to the dock for repairs.  With consistently good breeze on the lake, we missed two races fixing the halyard and were now more than 22 points behind the leaders.  This is not how we imagined the start to our 2012 season.  But back on the course and ready to go, we won the next start, rounded first and were looking good…until a 180-degree wind shift allowed the fleet to sail around us!  Despite the bad luck, we salvaged a third place and headed to the dock to regroup for Saturday.  Long-time Ullman customer and new Viper owner Ed Feo (previously owner of Andrews 45 “Locomotion”) used his experience to power into second place for the day and make a statement in his first regatta.  And local lad Tony Chapman had an outstanding day, winning the first Ullman Sails Centerboard Regatta.  Day One Results.

Jim was back on the boat Saturday and college sailor Evan (can’t remember his last name - sorry!) and I were ready for a fight-back.  And fight back we did!  Consistency was the name of the game and we settled into a groove of second and third place finishes.  Both Tony and Greg Jackson were the guys to beat as local knowledge ruled the day.   Boats were constantly changing position throughout the fleet, which was good for us as we continued to stay near the top.  Ed had some trouble shifting gears in the light air and slipped back as the point totals started mounting up.  We finished Saturday near the top of the leader board but knew it would be tough to win.
Sunday started poorly for us, but we beat the boats we needed to and started to realize we were in the mix for the overall win.  Ed Feo got his rig tuned perfectly and won the day with boat speed and great tactics.  Consistency was paying off for us and we were charging for the top.  We just needed more races!  Calculations told us we were tied with the leader (Greg Jackson), but would lose the tie breaker.  Our confidence and boat speed were up and we had a feeling we could pull it out, but sadly the wind died and the regatta was over with no more racing to be had.  The fight-back was good, but not good enough.  Congratulations to Greg and his crew who won the regatta with solid finishes, especially on Saturday. 

Thirteen total races were completed (11 for the Viper 640s) by an outstanding race committee and hosted by a friendly and fun yacht club.  The lake has changed since I was there 15 years ago, but one thing remained the same – the passion for sailing is alive and well.  Make sure you put this regatta on your calendar for next year! 

Keith Magnussen