2015 Ultimate 20 Pacific Coast Championships

The 2015 Pacific Coast Championship was held at the Richmond Yacht Club on October 10-12 with 13 boats in attendance, traveling from Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, and many parts of California. The weekend event included 3 windward/leeward races north of the Olympic Circle for each of the first two days capped off with a long distance race on the third. The weather all through the regatta was sunny with temperatures in the upper 70s to 80s. The first day the wind started light from the south at 5 to 10 knots, shifting to the southwest as the racing progressed, with winds between 10 and 12 knots. With the ebbing tide, however, chop developed quickly and challenged all the racers to power through the waves heading upwind. Downwind legs were fast, but generally under control for the fleet. The leaders clearly established themselves with Bob Comstock (Ultimate Antics), Chris Chambers (Black Sheep), and Mark Allen (Junta) finishing in the top three on all three races. Jay Harland (Madison) and Phil Kanegsberg (Udecide) also had good races. Donna Womble (Peabody) showed strength on the first race, but was out the rest of the day when a bolt on her upper gudgeon broke. The second day felt like the first in the morning, but then the thin finger of fog came in over Alcatraz and the wind quickly shifted towards the west and was generally between 10 to 15 knots, with stronger periods up to 20 knots. At times, the windward mark was obscured by fog. Of course, the chop was now higher and everyone tightened down their rigs. The day’s stronger winds resulted in more broaches on the downwind jibes offering opportunities for a number of boats as well as more rig and gear problems for several boats resulting in retirements. Unfortunately, a port/starboard collision took out two boats. The Black Sheep team found a way to sail through the conditions, scoring two bullets and Udecide and David Krausz (Salsa) scoring their best of the regatta with seconds. The third day was the distance race and was the warmest of the regatta with temperatures in the 80s. The race started south of the Southampton mark and required a starboard rounding of Blackhaller (near the Golden Gate Bridge) and then a starboard rounding of Harding Rock, before making a choice to take the shorter route through Raccoon Straits or sail around Angel Island to the Richmond Yacht Club channel for the finish. The wind started out from the northwest, but quickly became unstable, splitting the fleet with those heading south and those more westerly. The westerly route won out, and as the wind built in, those that sailed down to the City front captured the ebb current to Blackhaller, reaching the mark quickly. Most of the boats opted for the longer route with stronger pressure. The downwind leg was fast until hitting the lee of Angel Island and the strong ebb current. While during the race, the separation of the boats was significant in time and distance, the first three boats all finished within boat lengths with Travis Gregory (222) winning. The final results had Bob Comstock receiving the PCC trophy, defending champion Chris Chambers second, and previous PCC champion, Mark Allen, third. While racing was the primary purpose of the regatta, a talk by Jim Antrim on the design and concepts behind the Ultimate 20 and how it led to other sport boats in the Antrim design series was fascinating and fun. Jeff Canepa sailed with us on Saturday and joined us at Jim’s talk. After each day, Mark Allen organized a chalk talk on the docks while serving cold Uinta beer so we could all talk about what made us fast or slow. The Richmond Yacht Club served great dinners from their temporary “village” while the main building is under renovation. Dan Irwin (Wasaaabi) sponsored a renaming ceremony for his boat with libations and a proper ceremonial reading. Being Fleet Week, there was lots of activity on and over the water, with the Blue Angels flying on each day, though few of us had time to notice them while racing. The real winner of the regatta was perhaps Craig Smith at Elkhorn Composites where at least three boats headed for repairs and deferred maintenance!