SCYA Midwinter Regatta 2003 – The View Through Green Colored Lenses

by Gordon Wanlass




Once again Balboa Yacht Club threw open its doors and boat yard to host the annual SCYA Midwinter regatta for the Santana 20s and Shields. This year’s turn out for the Santana 20 Fleet was eight boats, a smaller group than we had hoped for, but a talented gathering. My boat Gremlin has had to sit out the past two nationals, but we have condos reserved for this year in Huntington Lake and were looking to kick start our 2003 program with this regatta. My crew was the same as the 2000 Nationals. Running the bow and calling downwind position and tactics was my long-time friend John Andrew. Mike Sentovich managed the middle and called upwind tactics. Mike is another long-time friend who goes all the way back to racing Lasers in high school. His fiancée let him out for the weekend on the condition that I spend this year’s North Sails Race Week dressed in a tux standing next to him. Sailing with these two guys is a blast – they can make anyone look good.







We figured a major speed bump on our 2003 route was 2001 National Champion Charlie Ogletree who flew out from Texas to skipper Caltrans. If you don’t understand how this fast new 900 series boat picked up her name, you’ll just have to spend a few minutes in the yard watching her crew install a new bit of hardware. As usual John Pap forsook his Lido 14 and ran the bow. The third member of the Caltrans union was Jon Pinckney, Mike’s younger brother and bete noir of the NHYC Lehman 12 fleet. 


Always a concern is the all white boat Mini-Me with the new mini-er Bruce Golison on the helm. Bruce’s boat partner and core crew Steve Washburn ran the middle and MXXX stepped in for Steve’s son Steve to run the bow. MXXX owns a recently restored S20 at ABYC. Mini-Me is fast and we knew this regatta would be no different.

Race one started well. Just like page one of our plan we rounded the weather mark in first. The rest of the plan read “extend lead downwind with superior speed, stay between competition and next mark, finish first.” This was a really good plan. I don’t know why we didn’t follow it more closely. We have always had good downwind speed, yet Mini-Me passed us on the first downwind leg and life only got worse as the race progressed. Wallowing along behind Bruce we missed a big right shift at the mark and sailed of on a header to clear our air. Caltrans tacked immediately at the mark and now we were in third. The shift turned the second beat into a parade with one notable exception. A giant pot-hole lull swallowed Gremlin and Tony Long’s Dragonflight. The wheels fell of the the cart and the fleet passed us. By the time we reassembled the cart all that was left of the race was keeping ahead of Dragonflight and evaluating the plan.





Race three started well. Just like page one of our plan we rounded the weather mark in first. I think the title of our plan was Groundhog Day. Third time better well be the charm. We’re ahead of Mini-Me and Caltrans, let’s just stay there or the bar bill is going to be ugly. Stay between them and the mark – fine – add  “get in sequence with the shifts with a tight cover on the axis of evil behind us.” Go fast in clear air – fine - we’ve lead at the weather mark three races in a row, the only way to get cleaner air is to move out of Southern California. Caltrans and Mini-Me spit sides, but to no avail. We finished first. The sail into BYC is jovial thanks to a full bag of baked Doritos, but even an endless supply of chips won’t drive away our total of eleven points. The Green Team is deep.


Race two started well. Just like page one of our plan we rounded the weather mark in first. We really liked this part of the plan. We’re ahead of Mini-Me and Caltrans, let’s just stay there. Go fast, stay in clear air. We finished third.


Race four started well. A nice westerly. We round the weather mark in second. Second! The stupid Groundhog must still be asleep. Mini-Me rounds first, but we have located the Groundhog. The most noble beast is inside Mini-Me’s kite tying the mother of all knots. Up and over we go. The run is almost all starboard tack. Go fast – check. Clear air – check. Round the leeward mark. Tack on everything that moves. Out to a fat port layline. Back downwind. Finish first.




Now dear reader, if you have been paying the slightest bit of attention, you know the drill by heart. Race five started well. We round the weather mark in first. Groundhog – check. Long starboard gybe to the leeward mark. Go really fast – check. Clear air – check. Round the leeward mark in first. Good plan. Mini-Me moved. TACK. TACK. TACK. TACK. Safely to the big fat port layline. Round the weather mark for the last time. Up with the kite. Surf to the finish. 7-3-1-1-1.


The first regatta of the season is history. Gremlin is third out of eight. But if you, like everyone else who bought stock in a dot-com, believe in trend analysis, things are looking good for Huntington Lake.


A hearty thank you to all the members and staff from BYC. Running any regatta is a large undertaking that is all too frequently ignored by the competitors. Mighty thanks to all the competitors, especially those who traveled from other fleets to sail with us. We expect to read your regatta report in the next issue.


Gordon Wanlass is a long time S20 sailor from Balboa Yacht Club and the skipper of the electric green boat Gremlin.

SCYA Midwinter Regatta Results