Kevin Thomas and Amanda Wayne
win Fleet 6 Championship
Not since the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup has a more important qualification race been held on the west coast of the United States. The Lido Fleet 6 championship is more than racing for a red “L”.
It’s a qualifier for a much bigger event, the ABYC club championship, whose prize is the most coveted in all of sailing. No, it’s not that old beer stein. It’s a 1 year lease on a $200,000 sub parcel of bay side real estate identified by the LA Co assessor as parcel 901 on page 031 of map book 7245. Also known as the ABYC Club Champion Parking Space. The highest ranking ABYC member in the Fleet 6 championship earns an invite to the club championship.
Even with so much at stake, the amount of preparation may surprise some. Gresham’s plan, “Find a good crew and psych out the competition by practicing the day before the event”. While this might be successful at most national events, it was a “Jonny come lately” strategy by comparison. Team Gilboa/Buczynski prepared for the event by using the Lido CCR as a tune up regatta, while Gabe Ferramola focused on endurance training by sailing Transpac. Gabe’s approach was probably the most effective. Any Lido sailor will tell you, after three laps around the bay without a lunch break it’s tough to stay focused. Other competitors took a less conventional approach. Amanda Wayne, from Short Bus, spent 9 days studying racing tactics at the Special Olympics, while skipper Kevin Thomas bought a house on the peninsula just to be closer to the venue. Bruce Golison took a more technical approach. As PRO of the Sabot Nationals Bruce allegedly hid Yellowbrick GPS transponders on all 130 entries to collect data for his advanced computer model of wind shifts and tidal current on Alamitos Bay. And you thought the fleet championship was two days after the Sabot Nationals by coincidence?
The SI’s were simple, five races, windward leeward, twice around with a leeward gate. The racing started off in a shifty southerly breeze. With the weather mark so close to shore, the first boat to round and get away was able to build a comfortable lead. In race one that was team Thomas/Wayne. They extended their lead at every rounding, leaving the rest of the fleet to battle for second place. Golison/Corsi passed Gresham/Jolly for second. Race two played out much the same way, but with Golison doing a horizon job on the fleet, Gilboa taking second and Thomas third. Thomas came back to win the third race, and tie Golison going into the lunch break. With the leaders having 5 points and the rest of the fleet posting inconsistent results it was shaping up to be a two boat finally.
After the obligatory hour and a half lunch break, the fleet returned to breezy southwest conditions. Race four started with Golison to leeward of Thomas and Gresham to weather. In the fully hiked out conditions Gresham found his high gear and easily rolled Thomas off the start line. Golison showed no love and covered Thomas the rest of the race. At the finish it was Golison followed by Gresham with Thomas narrowly staying ahead of Mike Shea. With a two point lead it seemed like the regatta belonged to Golison. For the regatta win, Thomas would have to win the last race and put a boat between him and Golison. The last race was exciting with the lead changing between the top three boats. At the first windward mark it was Gresham, Thomas, Golison. On a downwind boat on boat battle, Golison passed Thomas. With little separation and fearing Thomas would get an overlap at the port gate, Golison opted for the starboard gate. This proved to be a fatal choice. On the second beat Thomas was able to pass Gresham and Golison. From there the positions stayed the same. At the finish it was Thomas, Gresham, then Golison. That was enough for Thomas/Wayne to beat Golison/Corsi on a tie breaker. There were several other ties and close finishes throughout the fleet. Check out the results.
Preparation has already begun for next year’s championship. Gresham is working on new blades and claims he will be foiling by spring.