Early lead for Gauchos at Harbor Cup

Published on March 9th, 2018

San Pedro, CA (March 9, 2018) – Steady southwesterly breezes welcomed the fleet of 11th Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup regatta; but results were anything but steady – with everybody getting a piece of the action on day one of this prestigious intercollegiate regatta.

Bullets went to Cork Institute of Technology, University of South Florida, and University of California Santa Barbara, respectively, in today’s races. Santa Barbara’s Gauchos stands in first place, with six points; followed closely by US Naval Academy with nine points and CIT close on 10.

Race organizers had endeavored four races, due to a questionable weather forecast for tomorrow – but one race was ultimately thrown out.

The PoLA Harbor Cup is sponsored by the Port of LA, and hosted by Los Angeles Yacht Club. Ten teams from across the nation, and Ireland, are competing in this international invitational competition, which is presented by California Maritime Academy.

Cal Maritime has long dominated the event, with six victories in the past 10 years. They were ranked fourth at the end of today’s races – but no one is ruling them out.

“We’ve prepared pretty well over this last year and are feeling confident with the boat handling,” said Keelhauler skipper Johannes McElvain, despite a mixed bag of new and returning sailors. “We’ve got two freshman, who are doing excellent, and have shifted a lot of positions, so everyone is in a new spot,” added McElvain, who was boosted from trimmer to helmsman.

But does the team’s lofty past record weigh heavily on their shoulders? Not at all, says McElvain. “We’re really confident with what we’re doing on the boat. Everybody’s got a pretty mellow attitude coming into this, so I think we should be good.”

UCSB skipper Christopher Weis said, “Coming into the regatta we knew there was going to be a lot of tight competition, and every team was going to bring their A game. So we wanted to make sure we did too!”

Although they won the final match of the day, Weis admitted, “We had a kind of tough race. We were leading at the first weather mark, but weren’t going to make it to the layline, so decided to be conservative and tack out. We rounded the weather mark in seventh place, but had a great downwind.”

He attributed the win to, “good boat speed and clever tactics by Sterling Henken. The team came through, and did a great job. We will just try to keep it going.”

“It’s a very long regatta,” concurred Teddy Papenthien, skipper for the Midshipmen, “We just take one race at a time.”

Currently in second, Papenthien credited his crew’s focus and skill. “Wind conditions started out light, but then it shifted right to the standard sea breeze. It was great to see the crew eyes-up, looking for wind. That was really helpful.” Looking ahead to the weekend, he said their goal is to, “stay clean, stay out of the way, and keep doing our thing.”

Captain Jim Morgan, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the PoLA Harbor Cup, had welcomed the sailors at a 10AM skipper’s meeting, and thanked the Port of LA for their sponsorship, and LAYC for hosting the event.

Morgan also showed off a new take-home trophy donated by Catalina Yachts, who specially designed and produced the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s fleet of Catalina 37s; the boats the racers compete in. The half-model of the custom keelboat complements the impressive meter-high sterling silver perpetual trophy deeded by the Port of LA to encourage young men and women to enjoy the benefits of competitive sailing, and promote Corinthian values of sportsmanship, fairness, courtesy and grace in both victory and defeat.

California Maritime Academy is seeking to defend its title with racing scheduled on March 9 to 11 in San Pedro, CA.

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Source: Betsy Crowfoot

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