Harold Ho recaps 2015 NCCR

Harold Ho's take on the 2015 National Class Championship

Sunday, July 19th was the start of the 2015 Lido National Championships, with the Women’s Championship.  But before that, on Saturday, we were driving down to “sunny” San Diego.  Just over the Grapevine, the light sprinkles began and we pulled over to transfer our sails from the bottom of our Lido into our car.  By the time we got into LA, the rain was beginning to really come down.

  Our navigation screen shows traffic and incidents and I’d never seen so many red lines and x’s.  It looked like the map of a battlefield!  Hope’s of making it to San Diego in time for lunch were dashed when we basically were parked on the 5 at San Juan Capistrano.  We pulled off to grab some lunch as the rain kept building and building.  We pulled the drain plug out of the back of the Lido as the water inside was getting deeper.  Just then the heavens really opened up and it was coming down in buckets.  This was more rain than we’d seen all winter!  Seven hours after leaving Bakersfield we finally arrived at Mission Bay Yacht Club, the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to peek through.  Thanks to Grant Williams for meeting us at the boatyard to show us where to store our Lido.  

For the Women’s Championship, Maria and I decided to launch our Lido to practice and watch the races.  It was warm and humid, with just the slightest breeze.  By the time we had the start line in sight, the winds had dropped and to the south were some menacing dark clouds.  We came back in and got the cover on our Lido just in time for the buckets of rain to fall yet again.  The Women’s Championship Lido’s came in managing to complete 3 races. Congrats to Kathy Reed / Susan Lanoue on repeating their championship win for the 3rd time!  Congrats also to Terry Johnson / Mickela Medak for taking 2nd and Kathy Dryden / Jenn Rohr for taking 3rd.  

Monday, July 20th, was Qualifications.  It was great to see the sun shining although it was definitely hot and humid.  Winds were on the light side as well and more from the south than usual, but the threat of rain had passed.  It was also great to see such great turnout from Northern California.  We saw good friends Pat Sayer-Handley and crew/brother Luke, Frank and Pennie Chwalowski, Mark Dawson and crew/daughter Crissy, and Todd and Barbara Craig from Sacramento’s Fleet 8.  Meanwhile, Earl Thomas and myself / Maria represented Fleet 62.  Including Butch Michel / Julia Janes, all told we had 7 Lido’s from District 2!  Qualifications was tough for locals and visitors alike due to the winds still light and puffy coming from an unusually southerly direction.  We struggled with getting our timing right on the start line and got easily buried in the 2nd or even 3rd row of sails.  And, we had an even harder time finding the layline to the windward mark as there always seemed to be a wind shift that prevented us from fetching the mark in one go.  Courses were 3 or 2 lap long windward-leewards with an offset mark at windward and a gate to leeward.  I was really liking this setup as it allowed us to round windward and get a chance to plan our run without having to worry about hitting anyone still fetching the mark.  And, at the other end, Maria and I tried to figure out some strategy for which gate to round and which way to go.  It was a lot work trying to avoid wind holes which were plenty and dodge the occasional tourist traffic on rental boats and boards.  But it was kinda cool sailing by the kids cheering us on and gasping in awe at the roll tacks going on around us. We scored 11, 8, and 9 out of 18.  This put us on the bubble for the Gold Flight.  Meanwhile Earl Thomas sailed with local crew and new Lido owner, Emily Latham, and qualified 17th. Full results from Qualifications are here: http://www.mbyc.org/race-results

Tuesday, upon hearing the news that we were bumped up into the Gold Flight, we were nervous and yet relieved.  It was already a victory for us to make it into Gold.  There was nowhere to go but up!  It was another hot, humid day but the winds had picked up and were from a normal westerly direction.  Maria and I had good upwind speed and, having learned to well over-stand the windward mark, had quick roundings followed by mysteriously great downwind speed.  We also had good luck picking which side of the course to be on (usually by looking at those ahead of us).  We were truly surprised to score 6, 6, and 7 out of 10!  We were also treated to a fantastic show of match racing between Stu Robertson and Chris Raab as they tangled up in many roll tacking duels.  What a truly awesome day on the water!  Earl’s pairing with Emily was also working out as they were practicing roll tacking and picking up tips from all the pro’s.  They did a fantastic job in the Silver flight of scoring 8, 7, 7 out of 9.  Pat’s new Lido was also showing incredible pace scoring 4, 6, and 4.  Unfortunately for the Craigs, they lost their forestay screw from the mast after a promising 3rd place finish in the first race.

We headed into Wednesday full of hope for holding our 6th place standing in the Gold.  But the winds had picked up yet again, and hiked out as hard as we can (exhausted abs and all), we struggled to keep our boat flat.  Despite a fantastic start in one race where we were 3rd at the windward mark, we managed to blow our lead after rounding the gate and deciding to follow the side that Stu and Chris went, only to watch boat after boat pass us when we came back together at the windward mark.  That’s the last time I follow these guys!!!  Also, our magical downwind speed seemed to disappear as we were losing positions going to leeward.  Still, we had decent starts the entire day despite the aggressiveness of the Gold fleet and managed to not be OCS (although once I thought we were…) and we had enough pace going to windward.  We had a fantastic battle at the finish with Kathy Dryden in race 5, only to lose out at the very end, and another fantastic battle with the Hinton’s in the last race only to eek out the lead on the last few tacks.  We managed to end the day with 9, 7, and 8.  Maria and I both were sad that the sailing was over for the championship, we would’ve gone on for days… the weather and water were so beautiful and the competition so close and yet friendly!  We were also super impressed with Earl and Emily scoring 6, 6, and 8 to improve from qualifications, to day one, and even more on day 2.  Another few weeks and we could’ve been seeing them up in the Gold fleet with us! We were truly impressed with their rails-in-the-water roll tacks as well. 

Overall, District 2 came away with 4 trophies.  We repeated our win of the most-ballast-required trophy (by just 1lb!), Pat and Luke shared the team trophy with Kent Foster and Pam Fairley, Mark and Crissy Dawson won 4th place in the Silver flight, and Todd and Barbara Craig won the longest-distance-trailered award.  Congrats!  And big congrats to Chris Raab and Scottie McKener for winning the championship.  They put on quite the show to just beat Stu Robertson by 2 points.  Last but not least, we want to thank Grant Williams and Kathy Dryden for putting on a fantastic Nationals.  We enjoyed the racing almost as much as we enjoyed the welcome party and after racing dinners.  And to all the competitors, thanks for all the go-fast tips and friendly competition.  I’m sure it is safe to say that we all walked away as better, faster sailors and with a few more friends than we started with!

We hope more will join us next year at Fern Ridge, Oregon!
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