Cat Fight II in San Diego by Cherie Sogsti
It was a passion for sailing that kept cat sailors warm on the first weekend of May during Cat Fight II. With wind gusting over 20-knots on Saturday and pouring rain on Sunday, it was the coldest May weekend in San Diego history. The unseasonal winter storm and high seas kept the cat fleet in the bay for safety reasons. But given the number of capsizes and breakages, the sailors agreed it was a good decision by the Race Committee. Over half the boats flipped or had a breakdown during the two days of intense racing.
Every storm cloud has a silver lining, and the bright side of having to race short courses inside was that we had Mission Bay all to ourselves. The blustery weather kept the bay clear of paddleboarders, kayaks and other small craft that seem to congregate around our racing buoys. For two days, the cats had solid wind, flat water and virtually no other traffic. Fourteen F-18s screamed across the bay entertaining spectators and armchair sailors, comfy under the heated awnings on MBYC’s deck. Three F18s made the trek from Long Beach to compete with the MBYC fleet.
The races were 3 laps each which kept the crew’s hearts pumping. The skilled RC led by Doc and Andrea Caroe pulled off nine races over two days in extremely challenging conditions; five on Saturday and four on Sunday. Saturday had heavy and shifty wind from 15-22kts. Steve Stroebel and Ryan Hopps were off to a quick lead with finishes of 1-1-2 in the first three races. In Race 2 they were helped when the three leading boats lost count of the laps and started going upwind again so Steve headed to the finish. How many laps have we done: 2 or 3? It can get confusing on a short course. In Race 5, Steve and Ryan weren’t so lucky. They were taken out at the leeward gate when a puff hit them as they rounded and they capsized. Sometimes when you’re in the lead, Mother Nature gives you a big spanking just to let you know who is the boss.
Numerous cats capsized over the weekend, but Jason Moore and Alberto Serrano’s was one of the more spectacular. Alberto was hiking out and Jason was on the wire. They were racing hot and fast downwind. “I got a little greedy and took one bite too many, and we pitch-poled the boat in a big gust,” said skipper Jason Moore. Since Jason was on the trapeze wire when they dug in, the skipper got a complimentary trip around the head stay and pulled his boat on top of himself. Luckily Jason is a former San Francisco area sailor and was prepared with spares and extra bungee on board. They recovered quickly and were able to complete the rest of the races and finished the top five overall in the Regatta. Being prepared for the unexpected paid off; their flip cost them just one race.
Sten Sorrensen and Willem Perry had consistent top-of-the-fleet finishes the first day of racing. They were at the top of the score board going into Day 2. Sunday brought a southerly wind varying from 9-15kts which gave the fleet a nice long leg down the Bay. And what sailor doesn’t like long legs? The weather mark and 200yds off-set mark leg was set just off the club house which provided excellent spectating. Brandon Wallace and Marc Umemoto teamed up on a borrowed F-18 and came out of the gate very strong on Sunday with two bullets followed closely by Steve and Ryan with two 2nds. It came down to the last two races where Brandon/Marc finished 3-3 and Steve/Ryan finished 2-1. Sten was sailing slower on Sunday because his mast rake was still aft, tuned for the heavier Saturday winds.
Bob Sherman couldn’t have dreamed up better crew than the 15-year old Marianna Shand who is new to the F-18s. Marianna was awarded the 2016 MBYC Jr Yachtswoman of the Year Award and her strength, stamina and sailing ability have impressed the entire cat fleet. “Many of the multihull crews were exhausted and didn’t have the energy to finish the five races on Saturday,” said Bob Sherman. “But Marianna didn’t just hang in there…she finished with enthusiasm.” Bob and Marianna won the regatta award for Top Mixed Team. Of the fourteen F-18s boats to compete, only 3 cats managed to complete all ninr races (Sten Sorrensen, Scott Miller and Bob Sherman).
The ultimate congratulations go to Brandon Wallace and Marc Umemoto who are the new Cat Fight II Champions, winning on the tie breaker for having more first-place finishes. Steve Stroebel/Ryan Hopps were tied in points but got 2nd, Sten Sorrensen/Willem Perry were 3rd, Scott Miller in 4th, Jason Moore/Alberto Serrano in 5th, and Bob Sherman/Marianna Shand in 6th. Top Team with a youth sailor on board was Sten Sorrensen and Willem Perry. Cherie Sogsti, the only female skipper, and her husband Greg Retkowski won the Legacy Award for the fastest ‘older style’ F18. Proving that 11-year old boats can still go fast and have tons of fun.