2020 San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta

Published on August 9th, 2020

The 2020 San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta was held August 8-9 despite local and state pandemic restrictions in San Diego, CA. Eighty-one singlehanded competitors had seven races on the ocean venue of Coronado Roads, with Ford McCann topping the Laser class by three points over Marshall McCann, “Super” Henry Sprague sealing his Finn victory by winning the final race, while Nathan Sih won four races and posted all top five scores to win the Laser Radial fleet.

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Here’s a report from San Diego Yacht Club:
Over 80 single-handed boats sailed in the San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta (SDOCR) this weekend at the San Diego Yacht Club, a regatta that for most was the first opportunity to compete in months. Lasers, Laser Radials, and Finns made way to two separate ocean courses where they “socially distance” sailed in boat lengths for seven races. In an effort to provide sailors with a venue for them to compete in international, high-level classes, the SDOCR was home for sailors of all ages and experience levels.

In the Laser fleet, Ford McCann took first with 7 points, Marshall McCann took second with 10 points, and Paul Didham took third with 19 points.

In the Finn fleet, legend Finn-sailor Henry Sprague took first with 7 points, Michael Dorgan finished second with 11 points, and Scott Griffiths followed in third with 22 points.

In the Laser Radial fleet, Nathan Sih won first with 10 points, followed by Morgan Pinckney in second with 14 points and Santiago Quiroga in third with 22 points.

Each fleet participating in the regatta reported competitive racing, challenging conditions, and gratefulness to be sailing in unprecedented times. Specifically for the Finn fleet, first place winner Henry Sprague came out to prove his experience. Fellow Finn Sailor Mike Entwistle (6th) was one of many proud to be sailing alongside Sprague, especially in what he described as “physical conditions.” “He’s just a legend in the fleet, so it was really cool. He’s very aspirational. It was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend,” Entwistle said.

Twins Ford and Marshall McCann had something of a match race themselves finishing only three points from each other and 12 before the third place finisher. The two sailors have been progressing on their Olympic path and have been sailing Lasers from 15 years old. “Marshall, Paul (Didham) and I are all pushing together towards the Olympic team. We’re all in the Olympic Development Program at the moment for 2024 and 2028. We’re trying to keep raising the bar,” explained Ford.

On the opposite course, first place Nathan Sih held a strong lead the entire regatta with 4 bullets and finishing 4 points above second place. Sih explains that the trick to winning comes with the preparation. “I was training in Long Beach with Ford and Marshall McCann and it helped me a lot picking up my upwind speed. I also trained with Nick Kaschak, my coach for the regatta, who helped me fine tune everything and helped me get the speed advantage.”

“It’s about passing down the knowledge when you’re out on the water,” stated Ford McCann.

Being the first time back at a regatta for most of the competitors, many expressed their gratitude for being out on the water in their single-handed boats and able to get in some good competition in safe environment. Matt Dorgan (Finns, 4th) said, “The last event I went to was Match Race Nationals in September, so it’s nice to see some friends and familiar faces. Katharine Doble (Radials, 4th) said, “It was really exciting to be back on the starting line, especially with over 50 boats. I haven’t been on a 50 boat line in months.”

SDYC Waterfront Director Jeff Johnson was instrumental to making sure the SDOCR followed the county and state guidelines. He said, “I’m really proud of how all the competitors embraced the distancing protocol and accepted the lack of hospitality without a single gripe or complaint. Sailing at SDYC is usually about bringing people together on and off the water. Managing distance ashore is counter-intuitive to our sport but was easily doable and responsible. There are lots of people jumping into single-handed boats to meet local guidance on recreational boating that might have otherwise been crew. Sailing and helming your own boat and tactics are all yours to own. It’s the best training you can get! It’s the silver lining to a tough situation.”

SDYC is excited to continue hosting the Olympic Classes Regatta and participating in the drive to encourage sailors of all ages to try high-performance boats and continue their path to the Olympics. Regattas like this provide sailors of all levels the opportunity to race against some of the best in their fleet and learn from each other.

“My advice would be to connect with the older generations, develop relationships with them and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. It’s not a ‘figure it out yourself’ sport,” agreed the McCanns.

Due to the safety protocols in place, there were no events following the races and prizes are being mailed to the top finishers.

SDYC Commodore Brian Thomas share his thoughts about bringing competition back to San Diego Yacht Club. “The San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta was an opportunity for SDYC to showcase how it is possible through careful planning and team work to have a single handed sailing regatta while following County Health protocol keeping competitors, parents, coaches and members safe. As Commodore I witnessed everyone involved from our Race Office, Race Committee, Support Boat Operators, Volunteers and Competitors doing their part wearing face coverings and observing social distancing. The boats were rigged, launched, raced in the open ocean, pulled out of the water, washed and put away safely and efficiently. There were no social gatherings or trophy presentations, just competitive single handed sailboat racing in the ocean. Both days I watched the spirited competition in perfect weather and sailing conditions. Congratulations to Nathan Sih 1st overall in Radials, Ford McCann 1st overall in Lasers and to sailing legend Henry Sprague who captured 1st overall in Finns. It was a great weekend!”

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