2023 West Coast Championships!
Thirteen International 14’s came together for the annual West Coast Championship held out of Coronado Yacht Club at the 2023 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series. With competitors coming in from as far East as Sweden and West from Hawaii, the I14’s were the largest fleet in the regatta and by the look of the scores certainly one of the most competitive. Some of the comments leading up to the event were that this group of 14’s was one of the deepest pools of talent from top to bottom that we’ve seen at this event including an appearance from 14 royalty Kris Bundy and Jamie Hanseler sailing Brad’s 1161 and even an appearance from Leith Shenstone sailing with Dan Kaseler on USA 1185. Good to see you guys! Weather could have played a big factor for this regatta with this being one of the wettest West Coast winters in history, but the rainstorms slotted the race weekend with mostly sunshine and some decent breeze in the forecast.
Day 1 started on San Diego’s South Bay with sunny skies and a 12:30 start – schedule was set for 2 races and then the traditional long distance race. Breeze was out of the West at about 7-8 knots but moving right as it built. After a slight delay the first race got off for a 2 lap race and the RC shifted the mark right for the second leg. On 1187, Garrett Brown and Morgan Pinckney got off to a solid start, had a good first lap and continued to lead. There were a few changes behind with Terry Gleeson & new 14er Jett Jennings on 1207 showing speed and finishing 2nd, followed by Brad Reutenik & Parker Shinn on USA 1200. All of the boats were pretty close together for most of the regatta which is great to see as there were no long waits between races for the most part. The second race the wind went further right and half way up the first leg it looked like 6 of the boats could have the lead. Brad and Parker took the win with Gleeson/Jennings getting 2nd followed by Channing Hamlet and Pete Stanton on USA 1193 and Matt Megla and another new 14er Tommy Rudowicz on legendary USA 1162 coming in 4th. Race 3 was the distance race… the standard 15mi course was set with a windward leeward, jaunt up to North Bay to a large Navy mooring buoy, then ½ way back to a Green marker, back up the mooring buoy and then all the way back to the finish in South Bay. It appeared most everyone got off to a good start. On 1207, Gleeson/Jennings were burned off by Hendo/Martin and quickly tacked out right. They hit the right hard, as well as Megla/Rudowicz on 1162, and some other boats, and it quickly paid off. More breeze and a favorable shift set in and the right hand boats were able to get around the mark first. It was pretty thick at the top of the fleet and all the way down to the leeward mark. Those right hand boats all hit the right even harder on the 2nd upwind, but over a distance race, with lots of lulls, shifts, and a strong tidal flow the boats started separating. Brown/Pinckney on 1187 started working their way up through the fleet into North Bay and eventually were on the heels of 1207. It was hard fought but Gleeson/Jennings made tactically safe decisions, played the current well, stayed out of some holes on the far right up in North Bay to keep their lead through the remaining marks and dozen gybes or so to the final mark. It was a pretty solid race with breeze up to 10 knots and a lack of holes that we’ve seen in the past on this race. 1207 was followed in by 1187, then Reutenik/Shinn, and Megla/Rudowicz at the finish. Day 1 finished with 1207 in first and Reutenik/Shinn and Brown/Pinckney within just 3 pts.
Day 2 started with a promise of a bit more breeze that proved true and settled in between 9-12 for the day. The breeze quickly started moving right as it came in and was certainly the most right of the three day regatta. With a bit more pace we saw additional boats getting in the mix. John Clark and Hoel Menard on 1199 started off with a 3, 1 score line for the day, Channing Hamlet & Pete Stanton on 1193 had a top 5; and Kris Henderson and Martin Fabiansson on 1192 were consistently sneaky fast and crawling up the leaderboard. It was a nice 11 kts+ for Race 3 and the wind was the most right of the day, the RC placed the top mark squarely up against the Coronado Bridge and 1187 with Brown/Pinckney led the first leg followed by 1199 and James Clarkson & Josh Leihe on 1198. South Bay is known for its shoal hazards, but apparently not well enough by the volunteer set mark boat! As the 14’s came ripping around the top mark all three leaders found bottom as they turned down to set their kites. Broken boards, damaged cassettes, and some disgruntled 14ers were the result. Thankfully, the entire fleet wasn’t taken out as Garrett Brown was visibly seen on his centerboard (or was he standing on the shoal?) – motioning and yelling for all of the other boats to gybe away immediately. Thank you Garrett! Many crash gybed and when we came up we saw what was happening, followed Garrett’s directions and gybe set immediately. The three boats were eventually towed in, while the rest of the fleet continued racing the four leg race albeit on a one sided course with Reutenik/Shinn taking the finish. This third race was followed by a final race for the day (with the top mark now in safe water) albeit with a depleted fleet. USA 1200 took a bullet in this race and with the fresher breeze Megla/Rudowicz were showing pace and took 2nd followed by Henderson/Fabiansson and then Gleeson/Jennings. It was a great day of 14 sailing with South Bay delivering the goods but definitely marred by the boat damage and those boats missing races. Those three boats did file for redress and were granted average scores of their completed races for that day. This ruling appeared to hurt one of the boats overall scores, but this is the decision that came out and the fleet moved on.
So with the final day, it was pretty close at the top. USA 1207 with Gleeson/Jennings held the lead by 4 points with Reutenik/Shinn and Brown/Pinckney both at 4 points back. They day did not look as promising, with the sky overcast, the wind very light and out of the WSW. The breeze settled out of the West and racing was started in maybe 6 knots. Brown/Pinckney on 1187 have demonstrated tremendous gears in the light stuff and they certainly used them to their advantage. 1187 and 1207 stayed fairly close together finishing 1, 2 followed once again by light air killers Henderson/Fabiansson and then USA 1195 with the always consistent team Michael Leitch and Elizabeth Campbell. This set up the last race with Gleeson/Jennings having a 3 point lead over Brown/Pinckney. The wind dropped a bit more to about 5 kts max and there were certainly holes and lighter spots on the course. The final race started with 1187 taking off on the pin side and 1207 starting well but the wind pressed left and they were forced to tack out. 1187 took their light air speed and ran with it and were followed in by 2 other boats with similar single spreader rigs – Hendo and Martin on 1192 and Brad & Parker on 1200. Garrett and Morgan on USA 1187 sailed extremely well, consistent, and finishing the day with 2 bullets and winning the 2023 I14 West Coast Championships. Terry with brand new 14er Jett Jennings came in 2nd (nice work Jett!), with Brad and Parker 3rd, and Hendo & Martin claiming 4th.
This event was really well sailed by all the competitors. Every boat was in the fight at some point and sailing well. Super pleased to see how tight the fleet stayed and how there was really no waiting around between races really shows how far everyone’s skills have come as a fleet. The I14’s were the biggest fleet in this regatta, undoubtedly the most exciting fleet to watch, and on this weekend with white, black, grey, green, dark blue, light blue, teal, red, & brown boats on the line, we are certainly the most colorful as well. We had at least 3 brand new (first regatta) crews (Jett Jennings, Tommy Rudowicz, and Andrew Wilkinson) in the fleet and holding their own, plus newcomers Hoel Menard and Kate Shaner coming back for another event, we had two females competing (Liz Campbell & Kate Shaner)… word to the wise… don’t mess with Kate on the line, the Wilkinson brothers (Andrew & Patrick) paired up to sail Crumpet, plus it looks like Michael Lazarro is getting comfortable in the back of the boat with DeVonn Zink pulling the strings on the blue B5 Last Call. And as always, it appeared the 14 fleet consumed the most post race beers. All in all, a great event and awesome to see everyone having fun and hanging out together – these are awesome boats and as we know, but its all the super cool people that sail them that make the fleet.
Next up… SuperCup in San Diego – it’s a always a battle, but mostly against yourself – be there! And then the most excellent event – Skiff Fest in beautiful Santa Barbara and housing is available! Hope to see you all there!