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Couples who sail togther...

Harbor 20 Class Champs: 
Record Turn Out

 Newport Harbor Yacht Club hosted this year's Harbor 20 Class Championships. 
This year was especially monumental with a another record-breaking turn out of participants.  Every year the Harbor 20 class seems to keep growing steadily.  
Harbor 20 start - always crowded
Part One: 
General Regatta Overview

The competition was stiff.  Internationally renowned luminaries like Jim Buckingham, Doug Rastello, Argyle Campbell have recently joined Harbor 20 sailing.  Noted Sailing Champions, Scott and Lelsie Deardorff came down from Santa Barbara. 
These relative newcomers were out to show they had what it takes to win in Harbor 20s. 

The stalwart Harbor 20 sailors were also determined to show the elite newcomers, that Harbor 20 sailing is top level racing. The stalwarts have won multiple North Americans and Worlds in the most competitive classes.  

No one jumps into Harbor 20 racing and suddenly cleans upIt was evident that this was going to be a brutal regatta.  
Class Champs 2014 Harbor 20 Daysailer
Video  Harbor 20 Class Champs 

The regatta turned out to be as predicted with no one team dominating. The prior weekend hosted tune up regattas which informed everyone this would be epic. Every team fought tooth and nail for every single point they earned. Leads changed many times.  
The depth of talent in the Harbor 20s is outstanding. There are dozens of elite amateur sailors all on the same course. Small mistakes, especially early in a race, found sailors well back from the lead pack and struggling to find clear air, much less any passing lanes.  
Style and Grace abound
As the most active keelboat class in America, the Harbor 20s doesn't need to beg sailors to participate in their class champs - they turn applicants away ! 

In a flurry of last minute petitions numerous applicants were rejected by the board. 
The Harbor 20s is very much a Corinthian class - no pros, only owner drivers, and crew has to have sailed at least 12 races with driver before class champs.  
Karen and Gary doing well as always
Plenty of potential racers are turned away each year by the Class Board.  Focusing on true Corinthians has kept the class steadily growing.  


This year 41 boats made the Harbor 20 Class Champs the largest Corinthian Class Champs in the country for any keelboat. 
Jan Houghten skippering her Harbor 20
with hubby Bowie as crew
Not only the number of participants is growing, but the diversity of sailors racing in the Class Champs is impressive. 

21 of the 41 teams sailed with spouses or significant others.  Couples have more fun when they sail together
You wanna win ?
Sail with someone you love. 

The top five teams were all husband - wife combinations. The roster of those five names are luminaries in the sport: 

1st - Gale & Jon Pickney
2nd - Diane & Bill Menniger
3rd - Bridget & Argyle Campbell
4th - Karen & Gary Thorne
5th - Mary & Jim Buckingham

This was truly a family affair, as an array of family members collaborated raced together. Harbor sailing has always been about family, friends, and fun. 

Kathy and Cindy ready for Saturday evening !

The Saturday evening party was a great bash with dancing, good cheer, and plenty of Harbor 20 laughter. The club was packed with standing room only. Rumours of some epic after parties circulated, but what happens in Harbor 20s, stays in Harbor 20s.  

Michael Volk and Ellen Reeder looking stylish as always
Len and Barrie Connelly were leading the Bs all regatta until the last race when they were barely OCS and did not hear the recall. They continued to sail an amazing last race, winning handily only to learn the bad news at the dock. 
Tux 'line tailer' Geissman stayed home. 

Daniel and Mariah Geissman, new to Bs, decided to leave their dog, Tux, at home for the Champs,  and earned a solid second, despite not having Tux aboard. 
Daniel and Mariah Geissman welcome to the fleet !

Kathy Reed sailed in her first championship with her brother, Ted  to win the C Fleet ! Kathy moves up to Bs. The prior week Ted won Cs, so he moved up to Bs.   Roxanne Chan tied for first in the Cs, sailing with her longtime partner Dave O'Hara.  
Harbor 20 gals always have more fun
Everyone had good time chatting about the day's events while placing bets on next year's winner. 
Many thanks to Newport Harbor YC that has been able to attract top quality race management and judges. Special thanks go to Robert Kinney, Scott Mason, John Fuller, David Blackman,  Charlie Broadwater and Jenn Lancaster.  Robert's most entertaining awards ceremonies are always a treat. 
Jon and Gale Celebrate a well earned victory

First Race Report: 
Reflections from Champions 
Gale & Jon Pickney

This Corinthian-spirited narrative from the 2014 Champions, reflects the disposition of all Harbor 20 Sailors. Both gracious and humble, Gale & Jon tip their hat tofellow sailors for a job well done and to another exciting season of Corinthian 
Harbor 20 sailing....

It is important to understand that every regatta is different, and as such it is important to identify ahead of time, if possible, what the keys to success will be.

Sometimes setup and tuning for speed are the priority and other times tactics or starting are more important. You could have a deep fleet in which anyone could win or a shallow fleet in which it is a one or two boat show for the win. Every regatta has a different set of circumstances that will determine strategy and success. Once you have correctly identified and committed yourself to the key points for victory, your process for making decisions throughout the regatta has a starting point, more structure, and hopefully you are rewarded with more consistency and better results.

We felt consistency was going to be a huge factor because of the depth of the fleet along with the possibility that we might not get enough races in for a throw out. Starting well would be key, but being aggressive trying to win an end on a small line would probably be too risky over the long haul. 

With super light winds from the south, we knew we would be racing through the moorings where speed is difficult to maintain as you have to navigate competitors, moored boats, and unsettled winds that just went through someone's patio. 

Finally the tough fleet and conditions were certain to put everyone in situations in which they would be behind and have to try to come back. 

We felt the team that would ultimately win the regatta would be the one that could dig itself out from behind better than the other top teams.

Mast Tune

Our shroud tension was set the way Bill Menninger recommends, which is fairly loose around 16/17. I think that as long as your shroud tension was within one or two turns on either side of 17 you were fine. In general, in light air, you don't want to be tight which I think starts around 20. 

Although some of us fixate on it, I do not think mast setup was a big deal this weekend unless you were tight. 

As an example, I found on the morning of the regatta that my mast is off-center, side-to-side by one inch, and has a significant bend to port up top. Mast Tune 101 always starts out with a straight mast that is centered side-to-side, but we sailed all weekend with it out of alignment, which drove me crazy. 

Since, as we still seemed somewhat fast, this tells me there must have been more important factors than mast tune in determining boat speed. That being said, I definitely plan to take my mast down and examine the problem further.


Locating pressure and placing yourself in it was by far the single most important item to pay attention to this weekend. When the wind is 2-4 knots, as we had all weekend, the difference is staggering when you find yourself in 2 knots more pressure than your opponent. 

With four knots instead of two, you are probably going twice as fast and able to point 20 degrees higher. 

When we sail in the normal 8-10 knots when the wind is filled in across the course, 2 knots more pressure always helps, but it is nowhere near the game changer that it was this weekend. When you hit a soft spot in 8-10 knots, you can still coast and maintain most of your momentum and get going again with relative ease when the next puff hits. 

Not so when it is 2-4 knots! If you slow down as the result of less pressure, pinching, poor sail trim, steering or tacking, it will take forever to get up to speed again.

With that in mind, the number one priority on our boat was looking for wind at all times. I am always trying to identify where the next pressure is located and what path will allow me to sail to it as soon and as easily as possible. 

More importantly, since everyone else is presumably of the same mindset, I must do better by identifying where the next two or three pressure systems rolling down the course will be, after the one that everyone else is looking at is gone. I need to know how fast or slowly they are traveling, how long they will last, how much pressure they contain, and once I am in them, will they connect me to the next cycle of pressure systems coming down. 

Sometimes a smaller pressure line won't look as good short term as a larger one your opponent is in, but it may connect you to the next one or two better. It is easier said than done, but this system of "connecting the dots" is usually the key to winning in our small, shifty bay. 

While we were always trying to pass the boat in our immediate area, our biggest gains were always made two or three moves in advance using this process.

Pressure aside, we were always trying to go fast, because when you are fast you have more options. This requires keeping the sails a little looser and the bow down footing whenever possible. 

When you are fast, you are free to tack or pinch, if need be, for a short while to cross boats, moorings, create lateral separation from an opponent to leeward, or to connect sooner with a puff on your beam. 

If you are slow going into any of the above maneuvers, you lose too much speed and it will take too long for you to get up to speed again. Every decision we made this weekend was based on speed and pressure. 

We never went wing on wing all weekend (reaching is faster), and we never tried to pinch over a moored boat unless, by reading the available wind, I was absolutely 100 percent sure we could clear it. If there were any doubt at all, we would reach off and duck. 

All things being equal, I would rather head down and ease sails to a beam reach and gain a lot of speed to duck - than have to tack in 2 to 4 knots.

We made some huge ducks of 20 feet or more on large moored boats or opponents. 

Maybe in hindsight a tack would have been better. Perhaps we could have gone wing and wing a couple times, too. However you have to accept the fact that of the hundreds of decisions you make over the course of the weekend, you will be wrong 25 percent of the time. 

When you prioritize all your decisions based on speed, when you are wrong you are still going fast and you still have all your options. 

On the flip side, when you are wrong 25 percent of the time and going slowly or almost stopped, you will lose way more boats than someone who made a wrong decision but is still going fast. It adds up over the course of a weekend. 

There is too much at stake in 2-4 knots to risk being wrong when the penalty is slowing down significantly. This is where you typically lose lots of boats as opposed to one or two. Things are different in 8-10 knots, but 2-4 knots is a completely different animal. 

One other thing I did for speed was reread Jim Kerrigan's article on the H20 website 'Positive thinking in Zero to Four knots of Wind' He makes some very good points. We did everything he said...except lie down!

Key to Regatta

Our final key to the regatta was recognizing the winning team would be the one that could come back from adversity and salvage a decent finish when caught deep. Whenever I race, I always study results and find something interesting. I

n this particular case, I highlighted those come back races as this was where the regatta was won or lost. I try to identify what factors contributed to the problems in the race and how those problems can be corrected in the future. I then calculate the average finish in these races to see how well we were able to come back when we were behind. 

From there you can also determine what you did right or wrong in your comeback. 

In our case, all three highlighted races were the result of bad starts. In the start of race one, we couldn't lay the pin and had to gybe around and start late. In race three, we were over, and in race six, we had to circle back around after getting shut out at the RC boat for barging and again start quite late. I have concluded that the solution for the poor starts is that we need to compensate for the extreme light air by positioning for our final approach earlier and from a better location. 

Starting near last in 50 percent of the races is not the formula for success, and I will definitely try to apply the lessons learned in the future. 

We were a bit lucky because if there had been a stronger steadier wind, we probably wouldn't have been able to catch up as well as we did. The light, fluky winds allowed plenty of opportunities to catch up using the techniques that I described above. 

Another perspective in looking at results below is that the most important race of the regatta was race #3 as Pinckney and Campbell started the race in last place after being called over early. Menninger is launched and wins the race gaining 12 points on Campbell but Pinckney makes a comeback and only loses a point to Menninger.

Pinckney 7 1 2 4 1 4 Total: 13/3 = 4.3
Menninger 8 5 1 1 4 10 Total: 23/3 = 7.6
Campbell 1 2 13 2 9 6 Total: 28/3 = 9.3


Ability to come back and post a good score in a race where you are deep.

Pinckney total score in races #1, #3 and #6 =13
Menninger total score in races #1, #2 and #6 = 23
Pinckney totaled 10 less points in comeback races.
Total overall margin of victory was 10 points.

This was a very tough regatta and we feel fortunate to have won. Sailing in 2-4 knots really is a different ballgame and we hope that sharing with you our approach and debrief is helpful. 

Also thanks to the always humble Bill and Diane Menninger for letting us rent their trophy for the year !

2nd Racer's Report: 
Reflections from Champion 
Kathy Reed

Creeping along at a snail's pace to the windward mark through the mooring field, the race committee had managed to start us in light, light air. It was so light that if a boat near you sneezed, you would have felt the puff. My crew (my brother Ted) and I were in second place getting close to the mark. I didn't allow enough room for the current and we touched a mooring ball. 

We heard the yell of "protest" from a boat far back in the field. "Hey, I'm protesting you. You hit the mooring ball." I immediately went into disaster recovery mode and felt I could do my penalty turn without interfering with anyone. Wrong. As I was coming out of the turn and tacking to avoid a moored boat, I fouled another competitor and had to do another turn. 

We went from second place to seventh place in about 2 minutes. Our spirits dropped. It was hot, Africa hot ... we were sweating like crazy ... and now we felt like crying.

Here's the catch. Had we read the Sailing Instructions more closely, we would have noticed that they said "Don't hit the mooring balls or moored boats but if you do, it is an NP event". We found out what NP meant after chewing the fat with the gurus at the after-race-beverage-fest. NP was defined as Non-Protestable. If we had dissected the Sailing Instructions carefully, we would have found the definition in there. Our mistake was not finding out about the NP clause before racing.

At the dinner that night, we asked several other skippers if they knew what NP meant. Only one did. I guess the judges would say that I needed to do the penalty turn anyway, but I am also guessing that I couldn't be protested if I didn't do it.

The next day went much better. We clawed our way back and won the regatta on a tie breaker, despite ourselves. Sticking to the details of every word in the NOR and SI from here on out ....

Kathy Reed and Ted Reed sailed in the C Fleet and are now members of the B Fleet.  Welcome to Harbor 20 sailing !

Congratulations Kathy and Ted!

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