U20's Create a Near Sweep of Konocti Cup

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The Ultimate 20 class boasted a record turnout of eight boats at the 23rd Annual Konocti Cup, hosted by the Konocti Bay Sailing Club April 28th at Clear Lake in Northern California. Six U20s finished within scant minutes, with our whole fleet pushing each other to dominate the 25-boat Full Cup (26.4 miles) and correcting out between second and seventh place on PHRF. Only the Thompson T650, essentially an overgrown carbon fiber 22-foot 505 on steroids, prevented us from a rout by posting a machine-like first-to- finish and first on corrected time victory. Rating 108 and getting time from the 90-rated Melges 24, the T650 showed the limitations of handicap racing but sailed fast for the win.

The weather resembled typical June conditions at the big lake, hot (80s to low 90s) and with light to moderate breeze. Doug Jones, KBYC Commodore, launched our boats with his Ford tractor, and reported almost zero wind on Friday. Breeze for the Saturday start was about five knots. Steve and Matt Boroughf on Salsa romped off the midline high and fast, showing brilliant pace that would keep them battling for the lead the whole race. Geoff Gardner on Ricochet looked fast on the pin end and worked the left side on the first beat to Windmill Island. Cloud Nine also started well. Onboard Layla, U20 newcomer Tom Burden had trouble finding the upwind groove and faded from a good start.

At the island, the first boat around was the Andrew family (with John and dad Bill) on Cinderella Story, sailing low and fast with lots of mainsail twist, and working the right for more pressure. Salsa followed close behind, with Ricochet, Cloud Nine, Layla and Trent, Kim Watkins and their stylishly shod dog on UFO. Salsa and Cinderella Story battled down the first spinnaker reach, with Ricochet keeping the pace. Jim Carlsen seemed to have picked up some seaweed on Cloud Nine's keel, but moving up fast from astern was Layla, showing consistently fast spinnaker work with Christian "Double-O-Seven" Bond trimming their new kite. Salsa rounded Mark One in the lead, with Cinderella Story in hot pursuit. UFO found a private 20-degree lift and moved into the hunt. Onboard Layla, Tom started listening to his partner, tactician Trish "Britspeed" Sudell, who told him, "Stop looking around and just drive." Layla began to reel in the leaders as the wind built to ten knots in the Narrows.

At upwind Mark two, John Andrew had passed Salsa, and the top boats compressed as they sailed through the fluky Island zone. The Race Committee announced a Shortened Course with finish after Mark Six. The downwind leg to Mark Four proved to be classic lake sailing, with lots of holes. Layla and Cloud Nine were confronted by a pair of Wylie Wabbits engaged in a bunny-luffing match. Layla ducked below, and Cloud Nine reached above, where the Carlsen crew fell into a wind vortex, with their windex spinning and their kite collapsing. Meanwhile at the front of the fleet, Cinderella Story and Ricochet jib-reached high after Mark Five, setting kites for the final third of the leg. Salsa sailed low on the right and found a private hole where they parked for five minutes. UFO made one too many gybes to the right, and got gobbled up by a private hole of their own.

The stage was set for the amazing conclusion, with disaster hitting the leaders, a surprise cliffhanger ending and amazing underdog winner. Ricochet and Cinderella Story reached right past Mark Six, believing that the finish was AT the mark, between the buoy and the mark boat, instead of AFTER the mark at the normal finish line. Salsa smartly capitalized, pouncing on their competitors' blunder and sweeping around the mark in the lead, with the quick-thinking Andrew clan making a rapid recovery and rounding right on Salsa's weather hip. Amazed by their good fortune, Team Layla rounded a close third, seeing the shocked expression on Geoff Gardner's face as Ricochet, now catastrophically in fourth place, dropped their kite and turned back upwind with their jib still furled. The wind had built to twelve knots, and Salsa was a length ahead and to leeward of Cinderella Story, who, with their typical blazing upwind pace was grinding right over the doublehanded Salsa. Hanging on for dear life, Salsa began squeezing up to pinch off the fast-footing Andrew machine. Higher and higher they pinched desperately up, and both boats slowed and began to make leeway. Meanwhile, about five lengths back, Layla found a little lift, and began climbing over the battling Salsa/Cinderella Story duo. Christian and Trish hiked hard, and Tom kept the pedal to the floor, making great VMG with Layla powered up and rolling higher and faster. Layla blasted right over the two grappling foes, and Tom, laughing wildly and feeling "I'd rather be lucky than good", proclaimed "we're gonna win this!" Trish, the pragmatic Englishwoman, admonished, "It's not over till the fat lady sings." The rotund diva began warming up her vocal chords, launching into an aria by Derek and The Dominoes.

The finish order was Layla, Salsa, Cloud Nine, Cinderella Story, Ricochet, UFO, Mo-Jo and the famous Too Tuff, with Tom Hughes sailing his first U20 event, and Mark Englehardt crewing, passing the tiller of the legendary road warrior yacht to a new owner. Thanks go to the KBSC for a splendid event, with great sailing, excellent food, bottles of local wine for all competitors courtesy of Jim Carlsen, who organized the sponsorships, and fantastic logistics and tractor launching work by Doug Jones and his son.

Don't miss this one next year.

Tom Burden Layla #92