Star Racing at Home – Winning the 5th District Champs at SDYC


My crew John von Schwarz flew in from Charleston a few days early to practice this week on his way through to Cowes and the Fastnet Race. But our racing breeze couldn’t have been much different from our practice in typical San Diego summer conditions: 10-12 knots and mostly clear. The conditions for the District 5 Blue Star regatta were light, lumpy and foggy at times (not that we can’t remember them, we just might choose not to). Saturday we almost delayed racing as a rare summer fog kept visibility to less than a half mile. Just at noon the fog opened to just about a mile, and we could see the top mark. By the end of the race we could see Point Loma and more normal 6-9 knots came through from 250 degrees, but we never even threatened to mini-hike. For that we would have to wait. New dad, George Szabo and his crew Craig Moss led after three races. John von and I were third waiting on a throw-out after a 1, 13, 2 in the first three.

Slightly better conditions prevailed Sunday getting a little hiking breeze in early: 6-10 knots out of 270, but the afternoon got fickle. John and I got out to an early lead (probably thanks to some amazing breakfast burritos), winning the first two races of the day. The penultimate race 6, proved to be the funky one. We started right thinking the breeze was trending that way, and we were one beat early in our thinking. George and Craig rounded only three boats ahead of us (they needed 5 between us) but started to gain quickly. By the end of the race they were leading and we were 6th behind Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel as well as the new Green star earners Alejandro Bugacov and Eugenio Cingolani. The breeze swung 30 degrees right, but John von and I were able to cut a small slice of leverage in our final approach to the finish. Despite big leverage from Jim Buckingham and Austin Sperry, we were able to slip across the finish in 4th and win the event. George and Craig were second, and locals Ben Mitchell and Julian Busch were third.


It was fantastic to see 21 boats racing on Coronado Roads and hopefully this fleet will be a good indicator for the Worlds next month. SDYC is setting up for a great Championship, so if anybody needs any convincing… Give me a call and I’ll sort you out.

Results from the weekend here and at


Successful Brown Star Clinic at SDYC


San Diego Yacht Club has historically hosted the Brown Star clinic in the winter months to help its local fleet tune up for the spring and summer season. After a few years’ hiatus, George Szabo had the gumption to revamp the clinic in preparation for this year’s lead up to the 2013 Star Worlds to be hosted by SDYC and the San Diego Bay Star Fleet. While we didn’t get as big a local turnout as perhaps we would have liked, we did have 10 boats from up and down the west coast to tune, train, learn and debate all things star with myself, George as well as veteran crew Mark Strube. After a tuning presentation Friday evening, George set the clinic in the right direction for Strube’s crew demo Saturday morning. We sailed in 5-10 knots and flat water under the shadow of Point Loma Saturday before coming in to a warm meal and a lengthy discussion around my film and tactical analysis of the day’s sailing. By Sunday, the fleet was all in the same ball park of settings and speed. SDYC’s race committee went all out to help us, running 12 races over the course of the weekend. Races were intentionally short to make boat handling and starting the priority for our teams in training.

Locals Ben Mitchell and Craig Moss led gold star Seattle legends Carl and Jamie Buchan after two days of sailing, but the results meant little in terms of awarding the weekend’s winners. Most improved through the clinic thanks to their hard work and attention to detail: Mark Butler and John Rudderham took top prize of the weekend.


Thanks to all our committee volunteers and all of our sailors. We’re looking forward to a competitive and fun year of Star sailing out west. See everybody in a couple weeks at the SCYA Midwinters at Cal Yacht Club.

Two World Championships make for a busy end to the summer season.

The last couple months have been busy ones on the water and off. Since moving to San Diego, I’ve been back and forth to Chicago and the east coast a number of times racing Farr 40s and Melges 32s in multiple events as well as each class’ World Championships. The last two weeks have were breezy in both Chicago for the Farr 40 Worlds and in Newport RI for the Melges 32 Worlds. Both events were of top quality with Chicago Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club putting on great efforts along with the respective classes to host good events. Both succeeded in doing so.

Check out this link to see the truly spectacular video put together on by the Farr40 class website taken at the Worlds to get a feel for what great conditions we had (look out for bow 15 and the Nightshift):

If only judging by the weather, summer is over back east. School is back in session, the leaves are turning, but the sailing schedule is still red-hot.

This coming weekend, I’ll be coaching a North U. Varsity Match Racing Clinic in St. Petersburg Florida. Anyone still interested, please check for details.

At the end of the month, I’m very much looking forward to returning to the BVI for the Bitter End Yacht Club Pro Am. Having raced last year, I’m very excited to have the opportunity to come back and do it again. Anyone interested can find more at

Check out this video to see what its all about:

As the schedule slows down I’m planning to return to writing my weekly update and continuing the 50 Rules to Sail by in 2012 at as the season slows down. Check in for more to come.

Race To Mackinac Recap

After 104 runnings of the Chicago to Mackinac Race, you might think these people have this race figured out. Let me be one to tell you: they do. This was one heck of a boat race. 300+ boats started in light air on Saturday afternoon after parading past Navy Pier off downtown. On board the Nightshift we were so eager to get going that we held everybody else up behind the line and managed to be the only boat called over. We had a beauty going with the fleet of Farr 40s and similarly rated 40 and 50 footers pinned to windward of the committee boat. Only problem was that we were a few feet over at the gun. We spun around quickly and got going again, and it turned out that was the only tack we would do for the entire 333 miles to the finish.

Light air with the jib top turned to light air with the light air spinnaker. We managed to get back into the front row before dusk and were tight reaching on port for most of the first night. We were unfortunately on the outside of a right shift as we neared the Michigan shoreline on the second morning and quickly found ourselves fighting to get out of the cellar of the Farr 40 class scratch sheet. But, as we worked in toward two points Sable and point Betsy, we were becalmed as the heat of the day tried to refill the lake with southerly ahead of another approaching low pressure system scheduled to arrive after we finished. After an hour or two of very light air sailing we slowly but surely started to chip away at a four mile gap between us and the leaders.

Going through Sleeping Bear and the Manitou islands we started to cut large pieces out of the lead as we gybed into points and out of bays all the way until the sun went down Sunday night. I went off watch just as we regained second place on the tracker and darkness crept across the sky. When I woke up again we were running for Gray’s Reef in 15+ knots in the dark. I comforted our team that I was an expert at sailing through reefs in the dark… not. We woke up our boat’s owner just as we approached the entry mark to Gray’s Reef. At 330 in the morning with no moon, it was pitch black excepting the red blinker at the channel entrance, the Milky Way across the sky and the running lights of four other Farr 40s that entered the channel around us overlapped, within shouting distance. We did two gybes and doused to a two-sail power reach into the Mackinac Straights literally calling mark room through the darkness. The race winners were only two miles ahead and 2nd through 6th place in the Farr 40 class finished within 10 minutes of each other after 333 miles of sailing. We set a spinnaker under the bright lights of the bridge and sailed into Mackinac Island in the gray pre-dawn light finishing after 39 hours and 27 minutes.

All accounts are that we had one of the best races anybody could ask for: champagne sailing conditions the entire way, downwind for all but 20 miles, no flies, never becalmed, good food, a great team, and a street brawl of a one-design race. As we passed along Gray’s Reef, power reaching into Mackinac at 11 knots of boatspeed, we realized that we had shorts on at 3 in the morning and looking down, we could see the keel through the crystal clear water reflecting only the light of the stars. How lucky could anyone ask to be?

We did a pretty quick turn around in Mackinac and delivered the boat around for some fun one-design racing this coming weekend in Harbor Springs, Michigan. We’ll let you know how it goes here at and on the twitter feed: