Competing in the CFJ (Club Flying Junior class) National Championships hosted by the California Yacht Club Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th, were 134 young sailors in 67 FJ class dinghies.

Junior sailors from all over the nation sailed the fickle winds of Santa Monica Bay in pursuit of the national crown.

Chris Segerblom and Kayla McComb of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club (NHYC) fought fellow NHYC team Mac Mace and Jeff Aschieris for the victory in a series that came down to the last race. If Mace and Aschieris won the last race and Segerblom placed lower than eighth, roles would have been reversed.

This is the 15-year-old Segerblom’s first big win as skipper and he was pleased to have successfully avoided the infamously variable conditions of the bay. On all three days of the regatta the pressure held up enough to provide propulsion, although it was accompanied by an ugly short chop to counterbalance the moderate breeze.

“Actually the ocean race venues are pretty similar,” Segerblom said, comparing his home court with the L.A. conditions. “They’re both really choppy and known to be miserably light. But in this regatta, there was decent wind, probably getting up to ten knots. But the chop was still infamously frustrating.”

While the annoying wave conditions played their part, Segerblom read the course well and the team was effective at getting clean starts for most of the weekend and then capitalizing through the races. They were finishing in the top five almost every race and were allowed one throw-out, which was a 26th place in the tenth and final contest.

What was the key to their consistency? “Top left,” Segerblom said laughing. “Yeah, on a lot of them we went top left — except for the last one [when] top left didn’t work.

“We just kind of took it step by step. We knew we needed a clear lane at the start and to consistently get off the line. Boat speed helped us a lot. We had a little bit better boat speed than most of the fleet, although there were definitely others who were as fast or faster. We tried to play the shifts and stay in phase.”

In three days and ten races, Segerblom/McComb finished with 31 points, just two points ahead of second place Mace/Aschieris. The competition was tight and there were no overtly dominant favorites on the entry list.

“Every year this regatta is one of the most competitive junior events in the country, from which the top sailors go onto very successful sailing careers in high school, college, and beyond,” said Glennon Stratton of the CFJ class association.

Locally, Peter Wenner and Yuri Namikawa of California Yacht Club finished ninth and Del Rey Yacht Club’s standout sailor Julian Soto finished 31st.

For full results, www.calyacht club.com/.

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