Tritons Sail Strongly to Season's End

    The coast of Honolulu, Hawaii was scattered with clusters of boats on April 28 and 29, including the 14-foot long, two-man dinghys bearing the proud letters of UCSD in blue letters on their stark white sails. The UCSD sailing team competed in the Pacific Coast Championship and finished in fifth place, which was a notable improvement on last year’s seventh place, and in prior years the team had finished in the lower margins of the regatta. UCSD was ranked 19th nationally in the fall of 2006 and entered into the PCC ranked No. 1 in Southern California.

    Courtesy of Kat Schultz
    The UCSD sailing team ended its season at the Pacific Coast Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 28 and 29 with a fifth-place finish.

    Though the Tritons faired well at the regatta, it wasn’t enough to earn them a spot in the national competition, since only the top team from each division receives a bid. The team that finished in first place this year and will go on to represent the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference (which covers all of California and Hawaii) is Stanford University.

    Finishing behind Stanford University was UC Irvine in second place, followed by USC, University of Hawaii, UCSD, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Maritime, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Santa Clara University.

    Competitive sailing runs on a very unique scoring system. At the PCC, UCSD brought two boats­: one for the A-team and one for the B-team. The A-boat goes out first and races twice and then comes back to shore to rotate boats with the B-team, which does the same. Each fleet participates in eight races a day, and each race is 25 minutes, so a lot of time is spent in the water during a regatta. Similiarly to golf, the goal is to get the lowest amount of points. Although each boat races in its own heats, the final placing is made by the combined scores of both boats.

    “”It’s very much a team sport because even if the A-team gets the lowest number of points in A division, they do not necessarily win the whole regatta,”” senior co-captain Ben-J Amen said.

    The PCC A-team was manned by senior Ryan Lorence who was the skipper and his crewman of freshman Hiromi Namikawa. The B-team consisted of senior skipper Nick Ward and Amen.

    As any good sailor knows, the performance inside the boat is always dependent on the weather conditions during a race – and the PCC was no exception.

    “”The wind was constantly changing velociy and direction,”” Lorence said. “”It was very easy to make a small mistake that could take you from first to last. Our repeated top five finishes brought us up to second place due to the inconsistencies of the other teams.””

    During the fourth race of the second day, Stanford was only a few points ahead of the UCSD A-team. The race was one-third of the way finished and the Cardinal was a short distance ahead of the Tritons.

    “”I had a decision to make,”” Lorence said. “”I could either cover my competition and keep the second place, or go for the win.””

    Lorence chose the latter and moved left as a 20-degree wind shift also switched in his favor to bring UCSD ahead of Stanford, only to be pushed back even with the Cardinal following another wind shift. This succession of events repeated two more times as both teams struggled for the win. As the teams neared the finish line, the wind picked up to rescue the Tritons yet again, and Lorence and Namikawa sailed through the finish line 45 feet ahead of Stanford.

    Though UCSD came in fifth at the end of the day, it was a big leap up from last year. Moreover, many other solid performances throughout the season left the Tritons satisfied on the plane ride home from Hawaii. Some of these highlights include a win at the Flying Juniors division at the Pacific Coast Championship on November 11 and 12 in Santa Barbara.

    “”We always sail our best in Santa Barbara,”” Amen said. “”The wind is consistently good there and in a steady direction and it is close enough that we can bring our own boats. Also, in Santa Barbara we race in the ocean and most of the sailors on our team grew up sailing in ocean conditions rather than in a harbor.””

    The Tritons also earned first place at the Cal Team race on March 6 at UC Berkeley as well as the South Series, which is a series of five regattas on Jan. 27 and 28, Feb 10 and 11, and April 7 and 8, earning the team its No. 1 seed going into the Hawaii PCC.

    The Triton team runs three-to four-hour practices, three days a week at the Mission Bay Yacht Club. The club generously allows UCSD to use its facilities and run regattas free of charge. The entire team is composed of 25 members and, according to Amen had a strong base of incoming freshmen which he hopes will help carry the team next season.

    Next year, two main goals for the UCSD sailing team next year are to compete in more intersectional regattas outside of the PCCSC district and to find a coach by seeking more grant money from the UCSD Alumni Association, which has agreed to match dollar for dollar any money the team is able to raise.

    “”I see strong leadership from the new sailors on the team,”” Amen said. “”Seeing this kind of enthusiasm assures me that our team will only continue to improve and to run the team with passion and success for years to come.””

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