Kownacki/Martin/Denny Win at the San Diego NOOD


By Derek Martin


The crew of Eric Kownacki, Bob Martin, and Rick Denny won this one by keeping true to the time-proven formula of sailing in velocity and keeping clear of kelp (Day One), and keeping it simple and minimizing your mistakes (day Two). This regatta was a tale of two extremes: Day One was in the ocean with very little wind; Day Two was in Mission Bay in 15-30 knots of wind.  The regatta was scheduled for 6 races, and we all felt lucky to get 4 in the books. It was just one of those regattas.


Day One – Ocean


Let’s just say I’m glad we had a good Race Committee, because I’m sure it was not fun to be one of those guys today.  The winds were 3-5 knots (maybe) out of the SSW in a very lumpy sea. Couple that with a lot of kelp and you had the makings of a fairly miserable day.  Luckily we had the wind to get out the channel and make it to where the RC boat was, and then  … the wind just died.  After about an hour delay, the sky began to clear and it was hoped that the land would heat up a bit and a sea breeze would develop.  A course was set and off we went – two and a half times around the windward-leeward course with the finish to windward.  Eric and company did a great job of concentrating on boat speed, minimizing tacks in the light winds and big chop, and they led this one wire to wire with the blue boat “Gratitude” not too far behind.  Dave Wright and Trish Bazan became entangled in some kelp (that was perfectly placed on the starting line) and finished 3 and 4 respectively.


The next race involved starting at the boat end and immediately flopping onto port to avoid the salad bowl that was again drifting through the starting line.  I was quite happy to follow Eric’s transom through this maneuver just to get clear of all that crap.  It was bad.  After rounding the windward mark behind Eric (again), we chose to set then douse the genny, gybe and go left to stay clear of the kelp, and let the waves work with us to help in the effort to make it to the bottom mark.  When we met Eric again at the bottom mark we had made some time up on ‘ol 921, but he still had a 3-4 boat length lead.  We split tacks on the upwind leg, with Eric going right and us needing to initially head left to clear out of his air.  The wind was really starting to die, and while we were craning our heads around to find some breeze we went right into – you guessed it – a big patch of kelp.  The crash tack to avoid it did not enamor me to my crew, and quite frankly screwed up our rhythm for the next two legs.  The wind had now dropped to the point of providing just enough for steerage, and we watched Eric round the windward mark and bear off on a close reach, hoping to find breeze to the south.  After having to throw in two extra tacks to get around the mark (the wind died and the wave action/current pushed us below the layline) we were heartened to see that “Alexa” hadn’t gotten too far out in front of us and had not found the wind they were looking for.  We initially headed strait for the mark, then gybed to the left, then became hopelessly becalmed.  It was somewhat comical as I kept asking my middle Greg to keep the pole squared back while my foredeck Jared threatened to spray the interior of my boat if I made him sit down on the keel again in the sloppy seat state. The wind finally started to fill on our side of the course, and we started congratulating ourselves early as we pulled even with and then seemingly slightly ahead of Mssr. Kownacki and company.  Then the wind left us, Eric’s sails promptly filled, and they rounded comfortably in front of us.  Eric put a loose cover on us for the final upwind leg for yet another bullet.  Dave Wright made up some good ground on us as we threw in too many tacks in the vain hope of finding a decent upwind wind lane.  Poor Trish got nailed not once, but twice, by kelp and had to back down both times.


Day Two


Gale warnings were in effect for the coastal waters, so we sailed in the Bay.  Everybody started the day with the blade jib, knowing the day was only supposed to go from bad to worse.  We also rigged the chute, knowing it probably would be a mute point if the weather forecast was anywhere close to accurate.  We all started without incident, and rounded the windward mark tightly bunched together - with us in the lead.  Eric’s boat was sailing sans Eric (due to an overseas business trip), and the dynamic duo of Bob Martin and Rick Denny were doing a great job of keeping the boat flat (relatively) in all the wind.  On the downwind leg, Bob tried to go above us and we defended.  Bob went again and I was slow to react, watching Dave and Trish take the lead while we went high with our 1 on 1 with Bob.  In short, we went from 1st to 4th in half a leg, all while going faster than I have ever gone on a Santana 20, going wing-n-wing with just the main and blade.  On the upwind leg, Bob and Rick managed to catch Dave and Trish.  We all rounded close together again.  Being Dead F------ Last, we decided to pop the chute, figuring we had nothing to lose. It cracked open, we rolled hard left, then hard right into the death gybe, all in about 1.5 seconds.  Dave Folsom, my foredeck, was in the water in a heartbeat, clinging to the right side of the companionway opening while we went sideways through the water. Greg Dawe, my middle (and fellow S20 owner), let the sheet go and after what seemed like an eternity, we popped upright. Dave gathered to chute, then our broken spin pole (which had bent itself nicely around the upper shroud), put up the blade, and we jumped right back into it. We had a slight moment of hope when Dave Wright lost his most-loquacious middle, Greg, semi-overboard in a big puff and they were momentarily distracted in getting him back into the cockpit on the last upwind leg to the finish. It was one helluva ride, and it was only the first race!


The next race had us all tightly grouped again going around the first windward mark. The main was mostly flogging. If you over tacked, you would instantly lose 2 boat lengths to leeward. We all feathered big time. The backstay was full on. The plastic slug at the clew of our main popped out of the outhaul track with a bang that sounded like we had lost the whole rig. Then, just after rounding the windward mark, Trish’s mast broke right where the topping lift exits the mast.  The whole rig came down, but luckily there was a crash boat right at the mark who was on her right away.  She was OK.  We all continued downwind as the wind continued to build.  I had my middle sitting in the back of the boat with me just to keep the rudder in the water. We rounded the leeward mark again closely bunched.  We traded the lead with 921 twice on the upwind leg to the finish.  Bob and Rick were sailing beautifully – two guys in 25 knots of wind – wow. We had one less tack to get to the finish and that was the difference. We finally had our bullet.


Eric, Bob, and Rick on 921 won convincingly, and I know Eric will be buying Bob and Rick beers for the foreseeable future with the job they did on Sunday. They did a terrific job, sailing smart and avoiding any drama that the other three boats dealt with in one form or another. Sunday’s E-ticket ride made it worth the high price of admission for all of us, although Trish would probably beg to differ.  We’re all just glad that nobody was hurt, and she’s already looking for a new stick. At the end of the day my adrenal gland was completely depleted – I was a noodle, but those after-race beers and stogies never tasted so good! Win or lose, it was a FUN regatta with a great group of people!







Sail #









Eric Kownacki










Derek Martin










Dave Wright


Wright One II








Patricia Bazan


Mama Huhu









Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD Regatta


March 18-20, 2011

Complete results for this multiple class regatta are available at Regatta Network


For additional information on this event, please visit the Sailing World website.