Variety was the theme out on the water during day one of the 103rd Challenge for the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup hosted by San Diego Yacht Club. Twelve teams from California, New York, and Illinois raced the first four races in equalized J/105s in San Diego Bay competing for the prestigious Lipton Cup trophy.
It was certainly a light day today with the breeze hanging around 5-6 knots all day. The heaviest air that Race Committee saw was 8 knots, but unfortunately it did not stay for long and competitors were mostly battling in light air with some current. Because of the light air, Race Committee shortened the course during races 1, 2, and 3. Race 4 was not shortened, but the wind was shifting to the right for a large portion of the race.
Today's sailing was varied because the almost every team was in the top 3 boats at any given mark rounding throughout the afternoon. There were four different race winners (New York Yacht Club- R1, Long Beach Yacht Club- R2, San Francisco Yacht Club - R3, and Newport Harbor Yacht Club - R4) and at the end of the day, only four points separate positions one through three. Interestingly enough, the top three teams after day one are the only non-California teams participating.
The top three teams after day one are Chicago Yacht Club (16 points), New York Yacht Club (18 points), and Larchmont Yacht Club (20 points). All three of these teams are vying for their first win of the Lipton Cup trophy.
Back at SDYC's guest dock after racing, Chicago Yacht Club skipper Will Holz shared his successful strategy for the day.
"Today it was all about grinding back from bad situations. If I found myself in 9th or 10th at a mark rounding, I tried to grind one boat at a time to get rid of those double digit races. We focused on our starts for the most part, if you had a good start you were likely rounding top 6. Other than that, we just tried to stay fast and I tried to let my crew run the boat while I steered. We have a lot of talented sailors on board, so I tried to put ourselves in a position to let them rumble."
Philip Lotz, skipper and 2017 Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, shared what it was like to win the first of the twelve scheduled races for the three day regatta.
"Race one was the first race out of the shoot for us. We had a clean start, we got going a little to the left, and we actually stayed in the middle of the race course on the first leg, trying to connect the dots on the breeze lines. We were one of the first boats at the weather mark and we got to the downwind left on the spinnaker run. We got lucky there with more breeze, came in first at the gate, and held that lead for the rest of the race."
The team from Larchmont Yacht Club, skippered by Danny Pletsch, had some challenges today, but is still third going into Saturday. "Overall, we did well today although we made a few different mistakes that got the umpire involved. Aside from that, we feel that we sailed really well and we feel good. Right now we are in the power of 3s- we got 7th the first year and 4th last year so now it's win or go home. We're pumped for tomorrow."
With such close finishes and bullets scattered across the results, the level of competition and talent will undoubtedly remain quite high out in the San Diego Bay for the next two days of racing.
Complete results after day one are available here. Racing is scheduled to continue tomorrow at 11:55am followed by the regatta banquet later that night. The awards ceremony will take place on SDYC's front deck after racing on Sunday.