Regatta Report

Turkey Day – 2022

Long Beach, CA
Hosted by ABYC
Write-up by John Clark

Another year and another Turkey Day regatta. Who doesn’t like two days of sailing along with two days of a full turkey dinner, with the opportunity to win a turkey for even more turkey dinner.  You either take home the turkey or you are the turkey.  There is nothing in between (other than a chicken).

This year’s Turkey Day was enjoyable as always.  The turnout was 6 registered boats with 5 boats able to attend.  On the water were (order of results):  James Clarkson / Josh Leihe (1198 – Low and Angry), John Clark / Hoel Menard (1199 – Pros & Cons), Michael Leitch / Elizabeth Campbell (1195 – Winnie), Michael Lazzaro / DeVonn Zink (11 – Last Call) and Paul Galvez / Dan Roberts (1168 – Lokita).  Brad Ruetenik had planned to come, but crew challenges inhibited him from joining in on the fun.  I guess he’d won too many turkeys in the past and he hasn’t yet made it through cooking them all.

Usually this regatta is a light wind event and a nice start to the winter season.  This time around it was a mix of moderately-heavy to light wind.  The most challenging part was the wind direction.  Usually a west to north-west breeze, this year it was a consistent east to north-east. Once on the water, the breeze was a manageable mid to high teens.  But the challenge was getting on the water.  The race committee seemed to recall past events where the 14s were consistently late to the start.  So they opened the skippers meeting by calling out the 14s to ensure we made it to our start on time.  I guess being late shamed does seem to work as there were no late arrivals for any start.

The more common launch is from the boat ramp, but that was backed up significantly, especially with the challenging wind direction.  So the 14s, fully rigged, decided to alter the launch and head to the beach.  The problem?  How to avoid the power lines.  It required all hands on deck to tip over the boats and walk them on their sides under three power lines.  And once they reached the beach, navigating through a locked gate would have made it nearly impossible until the combo to the gate was found.  Lazzaro / Zink were the only ones that decided to take on the doc launching, likely because they were pinned deep in the boat yard, but with a better line to the dock where they could break ranks and push through to launch.  They were the first to get out on the water, where all other boats were exhausted from carrying only to have to deal with a further launch challenge – the direction of the boat (towards the deep water), the immediate fall off to depths that could not accommodate boat stability, and the need to install the foil without dragging through sand and mud.

Clark / Menard were the first to beach launch, rushing to get on the water without attaching all trapezes or the jib.  But managed to make it out and eventually get the rest of the boat rigged to head to the race course.  Leitch / Campbell were the 2nd and decided to make it a bit easier by moving closer to the harbor seawall in hopes of less gusty conditions, although the same challenges with getting the foil in place.  Clarkson / Leihe were the 3rd to launch and seemed to make it out without a hitch (nice to have two examples of what not to do before launching).  And finally, Galvez / Roberts were the last to attempt, where they had issues with the foil, capsized and eventually lost their caps due to bolts shearing off.  At some point Galvez is going to have to replace the original parts put in place by Howie Hamlin back when the boat won Worlds.  Unfortunately the issues caused them to not make it to the racecourse for the day.

On to the racing on Saturday.  The 1st race was a single sausage course and the breeziest averaging mid teens with occasional gusts into the high teens. This was very manageable, although all were a bit rusty in remembering how to sail.  Clarkson / Leihe led from start to finish and had a very nice mistake-free race.  I believe they port tacked as course right seemed to be favored – either that or they tacked out quickly, which paid off with clear air and maintaining a fast pace.  Their win was only by a small margin as racing was close.  Leitch / Campbell followed closely behind to take a 2nd.  Followed equally as close by Clark / Menard.  Lazzaro / Zink took up the tail position to wrap up the 1st race.

The 2nd race was a double sausage course and was down to just three boats as Leitch / Campbell called it a day.  The breeze also fell off quite a bit to high single digit averages with gusts into the low teens.  Leitch had just returned the day prior from a trip to Egypt so jet lag was settling in fast and they decided to rest up and return again on Sunday.  As seemed to be common for many of the races, Clarkson / Leihe got off to a fast start.  Clark / Menard followed closely along with Lazzaro / Zink.  Clark / Leihe rounded the top mark first with a decent lead.  Clark / Menard followed in hot pursuit, gaining a lot on the downwind leg.  Clarkson / Leihe held a lead in the 2nd upwind, but Clark / Menard overtook on the final downwind before the final upwind where they held off Clarkson / Leihe for the win.  Lazzaro / Zink finished a bit further back as they continued to get the boat setup to sail fast.

Prior to further racing, it appeared the easterly was starting to fight the westerly and it would likely get worse before one would win out.  Clarkson / Leihe and Clark / Menard decided to call it a day with the desire for more boats to be on the water to make racing more interesting.  They did not consult with Lazzaro / Zink, who eventually finished and decided a turkey was on the line and stayed out for a third and final race of the day.  The breeze had held and likely increased a tad making for a solid, although lonely, third race.  Having only themselves as competition, they took the win.  With the victory, Lazzaro / Zink led the regatta after the 1st day, followed a few points behind by Clarkson / Leihe and a further point behind by Clark / Menard.  There was some catching up to do if either Clarkson / Leihe or Clark / Menard were to take home the turkey.

The racing on Sunday was very light to light, which made for some close racing and gave all boats a chance for overall victory.  All 5 boats were on the water and ready for a fun day.  The race committee set out for three races of which all were sailed.  With Galvez / Roberts returning to the water, they opened up the day with two bullets.  But racing was extremely close with Clarkson / Leihe taking 2nd, Clark / Menard taking 3rd and Leitch / Campbell taking 4th.  All within a few boat lengths of each other.  The success of Galvez / Roberts had a lot to do with quality starts, course decisions and maintaining a fast pace.  There were plenty of opportunities to overtake, but Galvez / Roberts held off the other boats with solid sailing.  Lazzaro / Zink completed the courses to take the final position.

The most exciting part of the day was the start of the 2nd race.  There were three boats on starboard attempting to make the line and avoid the committee boat.  The most leeward was Leitch / Campbell who were struggling to make the line with the need to eventually avoid the committee boat.  The middle boat was Clark / Menard who were on track to just make the line and avoid the committee boat.  Just windward was Clarkson / Leihe who were in the best position to make the line.  Leitch / Campbell made a last minute decision to tack to avoid the committee boat (no, don’t tack, gybe) forcing Clark / Menard to tack to avoid a collision.  Both boats went over, with Clark / Menard mast tip landing close to the leeward side of Clarkson / Leihe who (almost) avoided.  Clark / Menard righted the boat quickly and continued sailing, with Leitch / Campbell eventually getting back to sailing (720 completed?).  The smart ones were Galvez / Roberts and Lazzaro / Zink who stayed far away and had tacked over to port to stretch out a comfortable initial lead.  In the end, sailing was very close as it was the entire regatta.

The last race was important to decide overall victory.  Given the inability to compete on the first day, it was highly unlikely for Galvez / Roberts to achieve an overall win so they were sailing for race wins.  Clarkson / Leihe had a 3 point lead over Clark / Menard, but anything could happen.  The race was another extremely close race with multiple lead changes.  Leitch / Campbell sailed a solid race.  They held a close margin all the way to the final upwind, where it came down to a single tack on whether they would maintain their lead or be overtaken by Clark / Menard.  They took the bullet followed closely by Clark / Menard.  Clarkson / Leihe had a bit more challenging final leeward gate rounding, providing Clark / Menard an opportunity to pass with a fast douse and gybe. In the end, Clark / Menard took 2nd followed by Clarkson / Leihe in 3rd, Galvez / Roberts with a 4th and the final position by Lazzaro / Zink.

This was a unique regatta where every boat who sailed took a bullet and racing was extremely close throughout every race.  Very enjoyable weekend.  Final results were as follows:

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Congratulations to Clarkson / Leihe for taking home the overall win and the 22 lbs turkey.  Congratulations to Clark / Menard for a close 2nd and bringing home a 17 lbs chicken.  I heard Menard cooked up the chicken and ate like a prince with his college roommates.


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