Twelve skippers for Masters Regatta

Published on September 27th, 2023

The 41st running of the International Masters Regatta returns to San Diego Yacht Club October 20-22, 2023. This year’s slate of twelve skippers come from Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United States to compete in a round-robin format using J/105s in South San Diego Bay.

This invitation-only regatta has attracted some of the world’s best master sailors including Elvstrom, Buchan, Burnham, Tillman, Trask, Irish, Harken, North, and Holland. Here is the 2023 roster:

• William Abbott (CAN)
• Yon Belausteguigoitia (MEX)
• Nigel Cochrane (CAN)
• Alan Field (USA)
• Rick Goebel (USA)
• Scott Harris (USA)
• Don Jesberg (USA)
• Gary Jobson (USA)
• Tad Lacey (USA)
• Wolfgang Schaefer (GER)
• Cory Sertl (USA)
• Tracy Usher (USA)

Returning to the regatta are William Abbott, Nigel Cochrane, Alan Field, Scott Harris, Don Jesberg, Gary Jobson, and Tad Lacey. Jobson has participated in the regatta three times over the past decade, earning two 4th place and a 5th place finish, with his last run at the 2019 edition.

“The Masters Regatta is a good test of how my skill level is these days,” said Jobson. “It’s challenging to change boats every race and adapt to San Diego’s tricky sailing. While preparing I’m thinking back to past experiences racing in this regatta, recruiting good crew, and actively sailing through the summer.”

Brand new to the Masters is Wolfgang Schaefer, traveling to San Diego from Germany. Schaefer has sailed at SDYC’s venue twice before for the Farr 40 Worlds and another SDYC signature regatta, the Yachting Cup. While not experienced in the J/105, his team remains confident. “We have 2-3 hours on Thursday before the regatta to create a friendship with this boat. That is a handicap and not too easy, but we will do our very best,” said Schaefer.

Some of Schaefer’s biggest accomplishments include Silver at the 2019 Farr 40 Worlds, Gold at the 2018 Farr 40 Worlds, 4th place in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart (Class One), Gold at the 2010 Sardinia Cup, Gold at the 1983 Admirals Cup, and 1st place at the 1983 Fastnet Race (Class One).

In addition to his on-the-water success, Schaefer has served for over 30 years as the German Sailing Federation’s Chairman of the Offshore Committee, 25 years as Vice Chairman of the ORC (Offshore Racing Congress) and is a founding member of the Offshore Committee (20 years) inside ISAF, later World Sailing.

Also familiar with the Farr 40s is new Masters skipper, Yon Belausteguigoitia. Belausteguigoitia has been sailing and training on the Farr 40 and J/70 with his crew consisting of wife Eliane Belausteguigoitia, Hector Guzman, Tomas Rosenberg, and Marc Rosenberg.

Belausteguigoitia’s biggest accomplishments include Silver in the Laser at the Central American Games, and 15th at the J/24 Worlds in San Francisco. Eliane brings to the boat Olympic experience, from the 1988 Games where she raced in the 420.

Speaking of successful women in sailing, the only female skipper on the list is Cory Sertl who first sailed in the Masters as crew in 2019, and this year as a skipper. Sertl is sailing with her husband, Mark Sertl, along with Jody Starck, Meg Myles, Suzy Leech, Chris Snow, and John Rudderham. Recently, she has been sailing her Farr 30 in Jamestown, RI, as well as team racing in Sonars, Lightnings, and racing in the Pan Am Trials this past May.

“I am looking forward to a chance to go sailing with some friends who are awesome sailors in a fun format,” said Sertl.

Sertl comes with an accomplished sailing background including 1st place for Team NYYC at the Grandmasters Team Racing 2023, 1st place at the IC37 North American Championships in 2021, and is a two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

Tracy Usher joins the International Masters Regatta for the first time this year. Usher is best known as an ILCA (Laser) sailor having first started in 1974. Besides the ILCA, he has spent time in the last decade sailing a J/70 with his wife, sailing Grandmaster Team Race events (primarily club Sonars), and having lots of time as crew on an Etchells.

Usher’s team includes Jon Andron, Shawn Bennett, Tom Ducharme, Mike Bishop, and Steve Marsh. “We have a great team with lots of experience on J/105s here in San Francisco, and we also have access to a good boat to practice on.

“Given the team’s experience with the boats and with the IMR itself, we will likely focus on crew practices just to get everyone plugged into their positions on the boat, since we have not all sailed together as one group before.”

A few of Usher’s biggest sailing successes through his career were 1st place at the Intercollegiate Sloop North American Championship 1980, 2nd place at the ILCA Masters World Championship 2006 and 2011, overall winner of the ILCA Masters US Championship 2006 and 2009, 1st place at the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race (overall season champ), and 1st in Class with a record time at Transpac 1987.

Finally, SDYC’s very own Rick Goebel is new to skippering in the event, but has experience supporting local teams practicing with the J/105 and as an Owners Rep in the regatta. Goebel is sailing with J/105 and Farr 40 regulars Greg Tawaststjerna, Alan Nakanishi (Buddha), Shawn Burke, Steve Burke, and Rob Lindley. Goebel’s biggest sailing accomplishments include the 1987 Canada II America’s Cup Team, 2015 Farr 40 Corinthian Season Champion, and winning the 2014 and 2017 Yachting Cup.

The organization for the International Masters Regatta is utilized for the Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup which is held on the following weekend.

“These two signature events are huge undertakings with lots of moving parts,” notes Regatta Chair JR Young. “It takes a small army of dedicated volunteers to make them successful. Boat prep, registration/check-in, change docks, on-the-water umpires, the Race Committee — all of these include teams of volunteers who give hundreds of hours over 2+ weeks to make this happen.

“And we can’t overlook our J/105 owners who graciously charter their boats to us. We could not have this awesome format without their support.”

A full rotation is anticipated so competitors can expect to sail in 3-5 races each day.

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