Santana 20 2002 National Championships
August 5-9 2002
Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles County, California
Hosted by Del Rey Yacht Club
Interview with Andrew Kerr 2002 Champion
Disaster Area (Winnard/Kerr) with an astounding lead in the first race of Day 1.
This was a typical scene in this entire regatta.
The close racing in Race 2 resulting from oscillating winds.
Close crossing situation between Disaster Area and Head First in Race 2 near the weather mark. Head First (Van Waay/Wilson) rounds in second but loses several positions on the next turn. Note Ogletree's boat nearby, waiting to pounce.
US Sailing Judge Art Engel is full time on the race course, keeping an eye on potential problems.
Nationals Day 3 - Friday August 9
by Roberto Cordero
This nationals event will be forever remembered as a race with tough high quality competitors but dominated by one boat - Disaster Area. If there ever was an advantage, it was in boatspeed. Today, Chris Winnard, Andrew Kerr, and Bill Ramacciotti, the same team racing in Klamath Falls last year, are the 2002 National Champions. To Team Winnard and Kerr, this is the 4th time they have captured the championship. This year is unique in that their win both in distance and in points left mouths agape with amazement.
I talked to the winning team today and they said how strongly committed they were to win this championship. And that sense of committment showed in their efforts. According to the team, they gave nothing away. They used every ounce of their energy to take advantage of every movement of wind and wave and body weight. They kept their boat board flat. Their boat was almost exactly like last year. They made no special modification for this year. Even their two of their sails were from last year. But this winning team had sailed together for so long that everything was automatic.
Now that I've given away the punchline, let's fill in the rest of the story. Disaster Area took a total of 6 bullets. Only one race was not a 1st place. They had the championship so wrapped up that they did not sail the last race. Cal Trans (Ogletree/Papadapoulous) took a 4th in the first race but also decided not to do the final race since they had a lock on 2nd place. Mini-Me (Golison/Washburn) and Altitude Sickness (Infelise/Bell) fills in the next two spots.
This series was an outstanding test of skills since almost all race conditions have been encountered. Today was of special interest since we started out with heavy fog, initially with no more than a couple hundred yards of visibility. Everyone had to get to the race course by being given a compass bearing and distance (with chase boats making sure they got to the course safely). It took an hour for the fog to blow off. But what blew it away was a brisk breeze. 15 knots with gusts to 18 knots. Here comes the waves! Big rollers combining wind waves and swell chopped us to bits all day. These were top level sailors, however, and no adverse events occurred from the stronger winds. I did not see any broaches or chute problems.
When the fog cleared, the race was started again. Like all the prior days, there were general recalls. But this time, there were so many general recalls that it took so long to get the race going. Boats were extremely aggressive. This time the dreaded Z flag (20% penalty) was raised for the first time in the series. Only then was a race able to proceed.
One of the more interesting events at the start was the match racing going on between Disaster Area and Cal Trans. It was like a personal battle between the two boats. When the two boats battled near the line with constant turns like an America's Cup race, the rest of the fleet stayed away, like they knew this was not their fight.
At the first race, some boats did not do so well in the heavy air. Boats went sideways and heeled too much. The big conflicts happened near the marks. At the weather mark, many boats hit the mark or fouled other boats. My eyes were spinning from watching so many 360's. Aggressive positioning which worked in lighter air was disastrous in these conditions. Those who were conservative usually prevailed although some got away from marks with their port approaches with only an inch or two to spare.
Disaster Area repeated their performance from the prior day by amassing a huge lead once again by the very first leg. Clearly their speed advantage must be upwind because they always seem to pick up distance on the upwind leg. With Cal Trans shadowing them at every turn, there was little tactical encounters after the start since they were always ahead.
By the second race, with the absence of Disaster Area and Cal Trans, it was like everyone else was given a new opportunity to improve their point positions and suddenly, new boats appeared in the lead. It was competitive and the jockeying for position was constant. But a sense of relief was evident in people's faces as they knew they had just a short way to go before they can relax.
So what's new with the winners list? There appears to me to be a larger number of young sailors. New to the winners list is Voodoo Chicken from the host Del Rey Yacht Club. The boat is composed of three junior sailors, Greg Helias, Andy Dipple and Austin Rogers. This is their first nationals and they succeeded in reaching fifth place. Altitude Sickness (Infelise/Bell) is also driven by a young teen Payson Infelise was in 4th place. Young Chris Wright was driving Puffin and finished 7th. Carson Reynolds, a regular in our fleet, is in 11th place. Tack Techs (my boat actually) was crewed by another Del Rey all juniors team (Adam Corpuz-Lehne, Samantha Howard, Renee DeCurtis) and were in 14th place. Fried Logs was driven by the all junior team of Sam Haythorn, Chris Wenner and Harrison Turner from California Yacht Club. One also cannot ignore the smallest foredeck in the entire fleet and that was Stevie Washburn in Mini-Me. The presence of these kids in our class is especially important because they will provide the energy for moving our class forward in the future when we older guys get tired of racing.
Being on the race committee, it may be self serving to state this but this comes from the racers: racers were definitely appreciative of the good racing conditions provided by the outstanding race committee headed by PRO Mike Guccione. Lots of on-the-water issues occurred today and they were immediately put to rest with the help of the stationed international sailing judges on the Judge's Boat headed by Art Engel. From the inside, it was hard for the race committee staff since the lines were adjusted even from minute shifts of 5 degrees. Mike did an outstanding job of keeping the lines as fair and square as possible. So almost every race had a course change. Thanks Mike!
Thanks to our host - Del Rey Yacht Club for sponsoring us and providing the resources and infrastructure.
Finally, the most important is the regatta chairman Tucker Strasser. He has done so much to bring this regatta to fruition, most of the work was done by him singlehandedly. Thanks Tucker for your outstanding contribution to this class.
This was definitely a great nationals experience and one of the best racing conditions in a long time. I hope those that did not come to the series feel like they have participated from reading these stories.
Nationals Day 2 - Thursday August 8
by Roberto Cordero
At every mark rounding, it was like "Mutt and Jeff", "Abbott and Costello". Or was it Winnard and Ogletree? When the blue boat in front becomes visible look for the shadow and it can almost always be guaranteed to be the white boat with the gray sail. Once again it was the tight competition between Disaster Area and Cal Trans that dominated the race. But this time Disaster Area clearly had an advantage and won every race today to solidify a position in first place. Altitude Sickness (Infelise/Bell) and Head First (Van Waay/Wilson) rounds out the top four. Mini-Me (Golison/Washburn) was disqualified from a protest and moves down from third to fifth.
Winds today started out below 10 knots but slowly built up to a consistent 12-13. It held a steady average near 240 degrees but with frequent oscillations that made for good tactical opportunities. Notably absent this race so far were the big waves. The water was relatively flat. Certainly not like Eugene, Oregon but not the usual bouncy washing machine that the Santa Monica Bay is famous for.
What complicated today's races were the many general recalls and I flags. They were so many that starts were constantly delayed and the race committee warned about not having enough shotgun shells. The culprit was most likely the big oscillations which caused one side to be temporarily but significantly favored.
Out on the course, many boats split the course. Half on each side. But the top leaders stuck near the middle, realizing that the usual persistent shifts were not going to happen today and it was too risky to bang a corner. To make matters more interesting, a couple of fog banks rolled in, bringing with it some more wind shifts.
The shifts occurred more in race 2 and in that race, the entire fleet was close together. In race 1 and 3, Disaster Area horizoned the fleet with the same substantial lead evident since practice day and other boats were also farther apart.
Several over early boats did not return to restart and cost them the race and a significant drop in position. Some of the boats affected include Voodoo Chicken and Quitcherbitchin.
Adding to the excitement was the big fleet problem of port approaches to the windward mark. It paid off for these boats in race 2 but there were the constant shouts of "Starboard!" as the port boats tried to squeeze into the tight space. Aggressive boats like Tack Techs and Voodoo Chicken managed to squeeze right in without incident but they were close. Some were not so lucky and some starboard boats had to avoid. Surprisingly, no protest flags were flown.
Another point of interest was that Rick Harris on Bustin Loose was doublehanding the series so far. Usually seen with Harry Pattison, Rick still managed to stay in the top half with just two people and doing the 2-3 times around courses.
Overall, outstanding racing was evident and everyone seemed to be in good spirits and having a good time. Lots of camaraderie was present after the day's racing. Del Rey Yacht Club also provided videos of the race so each boat had a chance to examine their starts and finishes.
Join us back tomorrow for the guaranteed excitement in the final round.
Nationals Day 1 - Wednesday August 7
by Roberto Cordero
An action packed first day in a 29 boat fleet ends with two boats tied for first place after three races: Disaster Area (Chris Winnard, Andrew Kerr, Bill Ramacciotti) and Cal Trans (Charlie Ogletree, John Papadapoulous, Mark Hallman - 2001 National Champions).
At first it seemed like Disaster Area was going to clinch first place with a substantial lead (two bullets) in the first two races but the winds of fortune (literally) changed direction and left Disaster Area with some catch up to do.
First things first, the conditions. Winds started out below 10 knots with early shifty winds, up to 40 degrees apart, which delayed the race committee in setting up the race course. But this was translated to lines being too heavily favored on one side or the other. Two general recalls were called and the I Flag (Round the Ends Rule) was in effect. The lines were readjusted and the winds settled down to about 240 degrees, slightly right of the Marina Del Rey average. The race was completed without further incident. The second race had a little bit more wind but the direction held steady at 240 and no major course changes had to be made. By the third race, the winds had picked up to about 12-14 knots with oscillations that changed boat fortunes with every shift. That's when the fun started.
At the first race, Disaster Area clearly dominated the field. The gap between her and the nearest boat for most of the race (Cal Trans) was significant. Good boat speed and an easy relaxed style was evident on everyone's face. The first race also showed the clusters of S20's that would form each subgroup. The leading group was made up of Disaster Area, Cal Trans, Mini-Me (Bruce Golison, Steve and Stevie Washburn) and closely followed by Altitude Sickness (Philip Infelise, Payson Infelise, Jon Bell). Head First (Willem and Peter Van Waay, Travis Wilson - 2000 National Champion) was able to finish second in the first race but failed to maintain their positions in subsequent races.
Race 2 was similar. Disaster Area was still in front but interestingly, the gap was closing. The competitors were getting tuned in to the environment and the distance between the boats in the first group diminished. This is where Ogletree's consistency showed up again. Mini-Me was also not far behind.
By race 3, the winds had shifted right to 250 degrees. What was surprising was how the fleet split into two groups and were very far apart. Disaster Area and the top group went right, the rest of the fleet went left. Then with a huge lateral separation between the boats, a shift happened and suddenly positions shifted and the fleet separation got reduced. The slower boats on the left were suddenly close and Disaster Area had to cross a few sterns. Now they had a fight in their hands!
Cal Trans took the lead with Mini-Me close behind. Disaster Area was trailing behind at fourth place. The top group still had superior boat speed and maintained their relative position but this was when the racing was tight. A lot of covering was occurring between Disaster Area and Cal Trans. At one rounding, Disaster Area did not make the starboard layline to the weather mark and was squeezed out by the first three boats and had to do a 360 turn at the mark to round. No shouting or screaming. It was interesting how quickly they did that round and still managed to stay in close position with the first three. But they never recovered and finished at fourth. Cal Trans took the bullet.
The second leading cluster of boats was made up of Giddy Up (Ron Fish, Leanne Fish, Glen Hughs), the Del Rey Yacht Club Juniors in Voodoo Chicken (Greg Helias, Austin Rogers, Andy Dipple), Maya (Rob Avery, Chris Nesbitt, Sam Vagan) and Head First. These boats had their own mini race for the honors in the second tier.
Notable in this Nationals is the fact that six of the boats are being driven by juniors and what is good news for the class (but bad news for the grownups) is that five of these boats are in the top half, and two are in the top 6! The all junior team of the host club Del Rey Yacht Club Voodoo Chicken is in 6th place. Good job young guys! These will be the future leaders in our class.
Nationals Preview - Tuesday August 6
by Roberto Cordero
Nationals has begun! The practice race was held today after a full morning of boring measurement details. 16 boats took the opportunity to tune against the other competitors in the warm and sunny conditions typical of Southern California. Winds were less than 10 knots with relatively flat water for the area.
Winds were slightly south of the usual 235 average wind direction (210-230) with the left side favored and was fairly steady throughout the afternoon.
We had a glimpse of the boat speed differences between the boat. Disaster Area clearly proved its speed advantage throughout the course, leading significantly over the rest of the fleet. Team Ogletree/Papadapolous was next in position.
Not all the top boats raced today so this does not
necessarily mean anything. So as they say in the stock market -- "past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance"...
This year, yours truly is not racing but has a good vantage point on the race comittee boat so hopefully this means we can give you a more detailed story. I'm at the weather mark though so I won't know actual finish positions earlier than the rest of you.
There are 29 boats registered so this is a good nationals figure. There should be some good racing out there.
In addition to the racing, today was also the Annual Class meeting. We will post the minutes of the meeting sometime after the Nationals but the early story is the election of 2 new class officers (the rest remain the same). The new Class President is Bruce Golison and Ken Cardwell is the Vice President.
Thanks to the hard work of outgoing president Adam Kline who served us well the last two years.
Notice of Race
Current Entries to the 2002 Nationals
Guide to Marina Del Rey
Guide to Marina Del Rey
Book of Marina Del Rey
Marina Del Rey Hotels
Inside the Marina Del Rey Harbor
Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club
Del Rey Yacht Club
South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club
South Bay Yacht Racing Cub
California Yacht Club
Del Rey Yacht Club
Weather Channel - Marina Del Rey
So. Cal. Marine Buoy Readings
Southern California Wind Analysis
GOES-9 Satellite Image
Southern California Swell Model
El Porto Surf Cam
CBS 2 News Weather
Inside the Harbor