Tight at top of Etchells US Nationals
Published on April 10th, 2015
San Diego, CA (April 10, 2015) – Twenty-four Etchells took on San Diego’s infamous Coronado Roads for the opening day of the Etchells National Championship to be held April 10-12. The past few weeks have all been leading up to this, as the Etchells National Championship is the third of four regattas in the Etchells West Coast Series, hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club.
San Diego provided competitors with its quintessential racing conditions of sunny skies and light to moderate breezes. Throughout the day, the breeze was consistent but coy as it slowly increased in speed at 270 degrees.
For Jim Cunningham, an Etchells sailor based in San Francisco, the gradual increase of breeze strength offered a variety of racing styles. “The conditions today were really enjoyable, we had good close racing and as the winds got heavier, we went from sailing with people in the boat to hiking races,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham and his crew aboard Lifted 4 finished just shy of the top five at the end of the day in 6th place with a day total of 20 points. Luckily for Cunningham and his crew, the Bay Area offers plenty in the way of practice on water with currents and chop.
In fact, the current is often cited as one of the most challenging aspects of Coronado Roads, forcing competitors to tactfully navigate both the winds and the waves. Competitors will race on the ocean course for all three days of the eight-race regatta.
“It’s a nice big area. So whichever way the wind shifts there’s always a way to get in a nice long course,” local sailor and SDYC member Summer Greene said of San Diego’s ocean arena. Greene’s father Bruce is the PRO for the regatta.
Under Greene’s careful direction, the Race Committee succeeded in completing three races on the first day, with the first two races following a four-legged course and the third following a five-legged course with an upwind finish. The regatta has a cap of eight races for the three days.
With a competitive fleet like the Etchells, each one of those eight races will count. After the first day of racing, only one point separates the top four scoreboard leaders. Marvin Beckmann and Phil Lotz are tied at 11 points, with Beckman’s bullet finish in Race 3 pushing him to the top. Just one point below are skippers Bill Hardesty (defending Etchells Class World Champion) and Shannon Bush, who both have first place finishes. Hardesty’s second place finish secured him the third spot in the day’s ranks.
For Lotz, the key to separating his boat from the pack will be focusing on the downwind legs. “We were sticky downwind,” Lotz said. “Other than that, we had some great starts and a solid day of racing.”
Racing continues Saturday, April 11 and concludes Sunday. Eight races are scheduled.
Report by event media. Photo by Bob Betancourt.