Calling an audible for the community

Published on May 3rd, 2021

While handicap racing offers an opportunity for any boat to compete, interest rises when boats of the same make are entered. That’s the story for Roger Gatewood’s Katara and Rudy Hasl’s Palaemon, both J/145s which frequently meet on the start line along the California coast.

These two 48-footers were scheduled to participate in the 2021 Newport to Ensenada Race when Rudy contacted Roger and suggested that if they switched to the Newport to San Diego Race course, two other J/145s, Andiamo 2 and More Madness, would join in.

Starting on April 23, both races shared a start line in Newport Beach, and while the 125nm course was to be the 73rd edition, shifting to the newer 92nm option was too good to pass on if it meant four of these powerhouses on the start line. With everyone in agreement, it was to be the largest head-to-head match-up of J/145s ever (there are only 17 in existence).

The race started in a pleasant 8-10 knot southerly breeze with all four 145s on their Light-Medium genoas. Katara took the inside slot and spent the first several hours exchanging leads with Palaemon, a mile or so further out.

As the breeze slowly shifted right, Katara deployed her Tweener sail. While it didn’t buy much, Katara started ever so slowly edging out. As the breeze continued to decay and slowly shift right, Katara peeled to the A1 and Palaemon to the A2.

The breeze continued to decay as the sun set and the 145s approached Mexico’s North Coronado Island, a mark of the course, and Katara’s navigator Sean Motta noticed the AIS indicated that, after nearly 80 miles of racing, all four J/145s were inside of a 1nm ring of one another. This was going to be close!

The breeze fell off to near zero as the 4 Js struggled to get around the rock, with Katara and Palaemon eventually finding small zephyrs to escape the East side of the rock. The final 12nm was a constant battle of Katara sneaking out a half mile before losing her air and having Palaemon close the gap again and approach from the rear.

Ultimately Katara held her lead, finishing just over 8 minutes ahead of their friends on Palaemon, though Andiamo 2 and More Madness were less fortunate with the rock and its difficult breeze, finishing some three hours later.

Not often do boats of this size enjoy level racing, but it is common experiences that brings people together, and it was celebrated the following evening when Rudy, who resides in San Diego, hosted perhaps the largest gathering of J/145 sailors ever, organizing a dinner with over 50 guests between the four crews. Good times!

Source: Sean Motta, Laurie Morrison, Scuttlebutt

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