ILCA Masters U.S. Championship
Published on October 15th, 2023
Forty one sailors competed a the 2023 ILCA Masters U.S. Championship was held October 13-15 in Alameda, CA.
The day before the regatta, registration showed 13 ILCA 6s and 33 ILCA 7s. Those numbers were sufficient to start separate fleets (turning off rig-swapping), but based on the light-wind forecast, a substantial number of ILCA 6 sailors jumped ship for the ILCA 7 fleet.
After a few injury- and travel-related no-shows, the ILCA 7 fleet was at 36 boats, and the ILCA 6 fleet was a cozy five boats.
Racing just offshore on south San Francisco Bay offered warm days, westerly breeze from 5 to 10 knots, and a fairly strong ebb current making for short upwind legs and long downwinds.
On day one, the first race had wind less than 10 knots from a more northerly direction at the start, resulting in a dramatic shift to the left during the race. The next two races were held in a building westerly of 8 to 10 knots. The strong ebb resulted in a few general recalls, and quite a few OCS scores in the ILCA 7s (the diminutive ILCA 6 fleet was better behaved).
In the first ILCA 7 race, Al Clark had a commanding lead, but was scored OCS, so Elliot Drake got the win. In the ICLA 6 fleet, Toshi Takayanagi started his domination of the fleet with his first bullet. In the second and third races, bullets went to Francois Hebert and Julian Soto in the ILCA 7 fleet and Toshi and Walt Spevak in the ILCA 6 fleet.
On-shore postponements on Saturday and Sunday waiting for the afternoon breeze gave everyone a bit more time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Some sailors had been competing against each other since the 1970s, others were meeting for the first time.
On Saturday, the postponement was short, and the race committee team once again got off three races, in 7 to 9 knots. Takayanagi continued his impressive performance in the 6 fleet with straight bullets, and in the 7 fleet, Hebert, Tony Martin, and Soto all earned firsts.
The postponement on Sunday was a bit longer, as everyone watched the bay for signs of a wind line. A few sailors went out, providing onlookers some clues as to the relative strength of the wind (weak) to the current (strong). Finally, the PRO decided it was worth a try, and one last race was started shortly before the 15:00 time limit.
For the ILCA 7 fleet, the dreaded U flag was raised, claiming at least one victim over early, well before the start. The wind didn’t really fill in until everyone was back at the launch ramp, so the once-around course took more than an hour in wind as light as three knots. The long downwind slog against the current favored downwind specialists. Tony Martin won the 7 fleet, and Takayanagi earned yet another bullet in the 6 fleet.
When all was said and done, Takayanagi (who sails out of Richmond, CA) proved uncatchable in the ILCA 6 fleet, although racing was tight for the rest of the fleet, with each sailor getting at least a 2nd place finish. Hebert (who sails out of Whistler, BC) claimed the ILCA 7 championship with only podium finishes (first through third) after a throw-out 5th, although Martin was close on his heels after age-related handicap points were factored in.
Women take note: the title of ILCA Masters Woman Champion went unclaimed… can this be rectified next year?
Drew Carlson won an award for traveling the farthest (from Chatham, MA)—his strongest competition for that title came from Mike Colbert (Vienna, VA) and Andrew Bates (Kaneohe, HI). In addition, the Tony Dahlman Memorial Trophy was awarded by Rick Leland to Bill Pagel.
Tony Dahlman was an ILCA sailor who passed away tragically at the 2009 Masters Nationals in Monterey, CA. Tony was an enthusiastic and optimistic Master sailor, and the award in his honor is presented to the sailor who finishes in the exact middle of the largest fleet at Nationals. This trophy sums up much of what is great about Masters racing: friendly competition and camaraderie.
Overall championship: 1) Francois Hebert, 35 points; 2) Tony Martin, 37 points; 3) Julian Soto, 47 points (36 boats)
Apprentice: 1) Francois Hebert; 2) Julian Soto; 3) Elliot Drake (6 boats)
Master: 1) Nick Pullen; 2) Will Benedict; 3) Sumeet Patel (7 boats)
Grandmaster: 1) Dave Leuck; 2) Al Sargent; 3) Allan Clark (12 boats)
Great Grandmaster: 1) Tony Martin; 2) Emilio Castelli; 3) Bill Pagels (8 boats)
Legend: 1) Bill Symes; 2) Chris Boome; 3) Jon Andron (3 boats)
Overall championship: 1) Toshi Takayanagi, 18 points; 2) Walt Spevak, 21 points; 3) Steven Smith, 26 points (5 boats)
Apprentice: 1) Chris May (1 boat)
Master: 1) Laird Henkel (1 boat)
Grandmaster: 1) Toshi Takayanagi (1 boat)
Great Grandmaster: 1) Wat Spevak; 2) Steven Smith (2 boats)
Source: Al Sargent