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Keelhaulers win 2022 Harbor Cup

Published on March 13th, 2022

San Pedro, CA (March 13, 2022) – California Maritime Academy set the tone for the 2022 Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup (POLA)-California Maritime Academy Invitational Intercollegiate Regatta, logging the first bullet of the regatta, and continuing with a strong performance in the thrilling three-day regatta in the waters off San Pedro.

The event, which ran March 11 through today, was organized and hosted by Los Angeles Yacht Club (LAYC). The University of Hawaii finished second, with Univ. of Calif. Santa Barbara third.

This year marks Cal Maritime’s eighth win in this prestigious co-ed big boat competition. The Keelhaulers bolted out of the gate, with three bullets on the first blustery day of racing. By Day Two they had declared their dominance, with a 13-point lead over the next opponent. That evening, a protest hearing and decision over mark-room saw US Naval Academy disqualified in Race Seven: placing Navy at the bottom of a pack of opponents barely within striking distance: UCSB, Univ. Rhode Island, and Hawaii.

After the first two days offered punch winds, the final day opened light – due largely to the time change. “Mother Nature does not observe daylight savings time,” noted PRO Tom Trujillo, and races were postponed; commencing at 12:35 in 5 knots of breeze from the south, with Cal Maritime OCS.

The course was twice around, and when the fleet split at the leeward gate, Hawaii took the lead and did not let go. The Rainbows finished first in Race Nine, followed by Navy Midshipmen, UCSB Gauchos, and the Keelhaulers fourth – who impressively rebounded from their overzealous start.

Cal Maritime’s victory in the POLA Harbor Cup was all but guaranteed, however, a fierce fight for silver and bronze ensued, with four teams vying for the last two spots on the podium: Hawaii, UCSB, Navy, and Univ. of Rhode Island.

Conditions continued to test the 10 teams into the final race. Several boats did not make the pin end, and Univ. RI grazed the mark, necessitating a penalty turn. For the final match, PRO Trujillo had called for a three lap race of half-mile legs, in building and clocking breeze.

The Rainbows battled their way from fourth, at the first windward rounding, to second around the second windward mark, advancing to another first place finish, with the Keelhaulers second and College of Charleston third.

Cal Maritime skipper Kyle Collins said he felt “pretty good, a little tired, and very relieved,” at the victory at Harbor Cup. “Honestly it was a little stressful. We had really great competition, and going into it we had some shifts in crew and positions. So there was a lot of unknown. But after the first practice it was pretty clear we would be able to work it all out.”

Collins added, “Cal Maritime is such an incredible school: we’re always traveling to the east coast to race, but to be here so close to home, with so many supporters, was cool. And this event is absolutely incredible. I have had the opportunity to sail in hundreds of events all over the world and this is the easiest, smoothest for competitors to come to. We show up, we race these great boats, we get food and given places to stay, and everyone is so friendly. It’s just incredible. A big thank you to everyone who makes that possible.”

Univ. of Hawaii clinched second place showing steady improvement over the three-day event. The Rainbows have competed in Harbor Cup five times in 14 years. Kelsie Grant is a crew member on Univ of Hawaii, and was thrilled to show off her home club, LAYC.

“I love being able to share LAYC with my Hawaii crew and friends. It felt really good to experience the hospitality and fun racing from a different perspective, and made me really proud of my LAYC roots.”

UCSB won third overall; their second podium position in five years of POLA Harbor Cup racing.

LAYC Staff Commodore Capt. Jim Morgan, said the event was conceived in 2007 after Cal Maritime competed in the Naval Academy’s Kennedy Cup regatta.

Then-Cal Maritime president Bill Eisenhardt asked, ‘Why in the world don’t we have an event like that on the west coast?’ and I jumped on it,” Morgan exclaimed. He secured the use of the Catalina 37 fleet from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation (LBSF) as a platform for the competition: the same boats used in the legendary Congressional Cup sailing.

“LAYC and Cal Maritime are indebted to LBSF for their stalwart support over the last 14 years, without which this event wouldn’t be possible. Our hats are off to Charter Manager Mary Voigt and all of the LBSF,” said Morgan.

Morgan explained organizers select four East Coast teams, four West Coast teams, and two ‘President’s picks’ from a large number of applicants each year. “It is a very prestigious, very coveted event, and we have a lot of disappointed teams every year,” Morgan sighed, “but there are only 10 boats.”

“The Port of LA has been our key sponsor, and have allowed us to make this a really first class event for the competitors.” The POLA Harbor Cup is the only intercollegiate big boat event where competitors are completely hosted. “LAYC really steps up to the plate with lodging, meals, boats, and hospitality – there’s no cost to competitors, once they show up,” Morgan pointed out. “It really spotlights LAYC and what we have to offer, with great sailing conditions, a gracious club, and it’s the only ‘offshore’ event actually held on the ocean.”

The regatta is also designed to help transition small boat and dinghy sailors into a post-college sailing platform, and envision the sport of sailing as a life-long experience.

Morgan was the POLA Director of Port Construction and Maintenance during Harbor Cup’s introduction in 2008, and has since retired. But he and wife Jill remain a driving force and head cheerleaders for Harbor Cup each year. “What can I say – it’s really fun! The energy and excitement these kids bring to LAYC, and how it brings our club together; it’s my favorite weekend of the year.”

“Hosting the Harbor Cup is really exciting,” added Kelly Marie, Commodore of LAYC. “It brings a lot of joy to a lot of people – the sailors, the volunteers, club members and staff: everyone involved in putting this on for the students.”

“Plus, my son goes to Cal Maritime, and there are two Maryland teams we’re rooting for – Univ. of Maryland and Navy,” recognizing her hometown of Annapolis, MD. “It’s a real honor and thrill to have the opportunity to host this event every year, along with our friends at the Port of LA and Cal Maritime.”

Racing was held on March 11-13.

Event informationResults

Source: Betsy Crowfoot

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