installment Sat., Feb. 4th

BY PAT REYNOLDS

While light winds cheated the first outing in this year’s Champagne Series Saturday, January 14th — leaving the racers to sail just one race — racers got in three contests under the moderate conditions the day was offering.

The South Bay Yacht Club’s three-day regatta is supposed to run two races a day, so now participants are all caught up and ready for the final installment of the series Saturday, February 4th.

Forty-five boats in six classes ran the course in four-to-six-knot winds building through the afternoon to about six to nine knots by the last race.

“It went very well,” said South Bay Yacht Club race commodore Rick Ruskin. “We shortened the courses and changed the orders of starts so that boats weren’t sitting around waiting with nothing to do. We kept them racing.”

The competition has been heated through the series in the PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) A and B classes with switching leaders through the contests.

The competition in the B class was particularly heated, with three different boats winning by margins of under five seconds.

Diavola, Wired and Hitchhiker are all within range of each other as the last two races approach.

Ty Hokanson, owner of Hokanson Sails in Marina del Rey and former winner of the Champagne Series and many other prominent races, was impressed with the competition at this year’s event.

“We beat Hitchhiker by two seconds and Diavola beat us by two seconds,” said Hokanson. “Diavola sailed a great race, they did a good job. They got ahead of us in that last race and just didn’t let up.

“They just kept covering us. I was like, darn, just let us go one time and we’ll be gone. But they were a little smarter than that.”

“They kept coming back and we kept tacking right in front of them to keep them in our wind shadow,” said Diavola’s tactician Gimmy Tranquillo. “We kept that up until the weather mark.

“They should be faster than us upwind because they have more waterline. But because we did the right thing, we ended up rounding the mark before them.”

Although Diavola and Wired are ahead at this stage in the game, Hitchhiker has a definite possibility of winning the class.

“It’s anyone’s game,” said Hokanson of the upcoming and final matches. “If Hitchhiker went and got two firsts and we got two thirds, they’d win.”

In some of the other classes, there was a bit more dominance to be seen.

Jim Durden was commanding in the Martin 242 class with Zip, as he so often is.

Durden won all of the races he entered Saturday, January 14th, positioning himself for a series win next weekend.

In the J-80s, Curt Johnson and Larry Hughes are battling for dibs, with Johnson taking three out of four wins thus far.

For the Schock 35 group, Jeff Janov was too much for the competition, winning all of Saturday’s races at the helm of Ripple, as was Bandit in the PHRF C class, which also won all of its races.

It’s anyone’s game in the PHRF A and B fleets and next Saturday’s races are poised to be highly competitive affairs.

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