Charleston pounces at Harbor Cup

Published on March 9th, 2019

San Pedro, CA (March 9, 2019) – The second day of racing in the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta was a full 5-race session that allowed College of Charleston Cougars to rise to the top of the leaderboard, swapping places with California State University Maritime Academy while Cork Institute of Technology clung to third.

The Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup is an invitational intercollegiate big boat regatta raced in the Pacific Ocean. In its 12th year, the event draws sailing teams from the nation’s top universities and academies – and since 2017, the presence of Irleland’s CIT provides an international flair.

Racing outside the breakwater in brisk conditions that built from 10 to 16 knots made for more exhilarating racing today. While there were none of the downwind death rolls instigated by yesterday’s tempestuous conditions, a strong opposing current created steep and close-set waves.

Cal Maritime has dominated the regatta – triumphing in half the events since the inception of the Harbor Cup – and after day one’s performance of 2-1-1, the Keelhaulers looked set to dominate 2019 as well. But a 6-DSQ-4 to start the day opened the door to the competition.

“Earlier in the day it was just a little tricky,” explained skipper Johannes McElvain. “I think we were expecting it to be a little more right, more of a classic Long Beach day, than it really started out to be.”

“It’s a really tight fleet, so it comes down to boat-on-boat situations and at first, we were not coming out on top of some of them.”

Steady improvement saw the Keelhaulers begin picking off their rivals, to capture a final 1-2 to close the day.

Sitting 12 points behind the Cougars, with two races left, McElvain admitted, “There’s definitely always the pressure and expectation to do well. But we’re really excited. It’s all good competition: that’s what makes this regatta so much fun to do.”

Charleston had begun the day with a bullet, edging out CIT; then continued to log a steady 2-2-2-1 – including a second in Race Six, despite being OCS at the start. But in Race Five, SUNY Maritime kept the Cougars at bay on the final downwind stretch – to capture their first win of the series.

The SUNY Privateers have returned to Harbor Cup after a four-year hiatus, the entire crew rookies to the event. Skipper Kyle Comerford said a successful fall racing season helped the team convince their Offshore Program to put up the funding to travel to Harbor Cup.

But the Long Island, NY-based team “really haven’t practiced at all,” he admitted, due to winter weather. “We were a well-oiled machine in the fall,” he said, with hopes to keep the momentum in to the new year. Although their win wasn’t enough to move them out of the middle of the pack, Comerford admitted to a little “brotherly love out there on the race course” – as his younger sibling, Will Comerford, is the main trimmer for the first place Cougars.

The brothers are frequent opponents, as are many of the teams. The last place many of these competitors squared off was during the ICSA McMillan Cup in Annapolis, five months ago, where rivalries are strong. Before that it was the Annapolis Kennedy Cup Regatta.

The Kennedy Cup has a noteworthy relationship with Harbor Cup. In 2007, then-President of Cal Maritime Dr. William Eisenhardt was driving through Long Beach with alumnus Jim Morgan, discussing the need to step up young sailors from dinghies to keelboats. Along their route, they spied the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s Catalina 37 keelboats, lined up at the Long Beach Yacht Club docks. That got the gears rolling, and the inaugural Harbor Cup was launched the following year.

Harbor Cup has been raced since then in this exclusive fleet of equalized, one-design 37-foot race boats – as are other world-class events such as the Congressional Cup, Ficker Cup and other fleet and match-racing competitions.

Racing for the Harbor Cup championship concludes tomorrow with two final races anticipated, starting at 11:30AM. A forecast of lighter breeze with chance of rain will provide an added mix of challenges to the competition.

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Source: Betsy Crowfoot

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