Chris Nesbitt and his San Diego Yacht Club team narrowly beat Long Beach Yacht Club’s Dave Hood by about one-meter in the last race of the regatta, Nov. 5, to win the 2017 World Sailing Grade 4 Butler Cup, thus becoming a three-time winner of this event hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club and raced on the Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s fleet of Catalina 37s.
This regatta serves as a qualifier for the 2018 California Dreamin’ Series, a three-venue match racing series hosted by San Diego Yacht Club, Jan. 27-28; St. Francis Yacht Club, March 3-4 and the Long Beach Yacht Club, April 7-8. Having won the Butler Cup, Nesbitt is now invited to participate in that series. This year’s Butler Cup also served as the Long Beach Yacht Club’s sail-off. Hood is now invited to represent LBYC at the 2018 World Sailing Grade 2 Ficker Cup, April 13-15.
Other skippers that competed this past weekend were Marilyn Cassedy of California Yacht Club, James Wagner of Chicago Yacht Club and Michael Levy of Santa Cruz Yacht Club. The original event format was changed by the organizing authority from a double round-robin to a triple round-robin to allow the teams more match racing.
The forecasted rain showers for the weekend never appeared during racing either day, but the storm system brought solid breezes of 10-17 knots Saturday and 7-10 knots on Sunday.
Nesbitt has previously won this event in 2009 and 2010, and it became quite apparent early on that this regatta would be between Hood and himself.
"Of the three times I have won this event,” said Nesbitt, “this is the most rewarding. Travis and Max set the tone and I know that they are going to help the young guys."
Nesbitt’s teammates were Max Mayol, Jake Mayol, Robert Garrett, Brock Paquin, Travis Wilson and Mike Nocoletti.
“Jake and Brock are new,” said Nesbitt. “We didn’t make the practice. We made mistakes and recovered as a group. We figured out that all we had to do is do well overall as a team, and it would work out over time.”
At the end of Round Robin 2 Saturday, Nesbitt had beat everyone he met except Hood, and Hood had beat everyone he met except Nesbitt. Tied for first place on the leader board, Nesbitt was ahead of Hood on a tiebreaker having beat Mr. Hood the last time they raced against each other.
Nesbitt asked to have his teammates comment on their weekend’s performance.
“We tried to beat off the line,” said Max Mayol, “staying ahead to capitalize on other team’s mistakes. We worked on our own mistakes making sure those didn’t happen again.”
Jake Mayol said, “We had a good understanding of what happens at the top of the course. We looked to be three or four steps ahead of our competitor.”
“The big thing was our good chemistry,” said Garrett. “The atmosphere on the boat was a positive motivator.”
“Each person had to make sure that they handled their part of the boat,” said Paquin. “Everyone functioned as a team to make sure everything ran smoothly.”
Coming down to the last race on Sunday, Hood needed to beat Nesbitt and vice versa.
Each boat covered the other upwind and downwind, staying very close to take advantage of any opportunities. As they approached the pin-end of the finish line, Nesbitt kept his boat’s bow about one meter ahead of Hood’s boat to win the race, and the regatta.
“We are fortunate that we had the opportunity to be here,” said Hood. “The weather was amazing, and the sky was so beautiful.
“I want to thank everyone who put on this event including the race committee, the umpires and especially the competitors… and it was really nice to have James Wagner from Chicago Yacht Club. Congratulations to Chris on winning this regatta.”
Nesbitt made a final comment on behalf of his team.
“The average age of our team is 27,” said Nesbitt. “We were sailing shorthanded and we can still win a regatta. This group of guys has the best can-do attitude I have ever seen.”
The event is named for Frank Butler, founder of Catalina Yachts, who in 1990 designed, built and donated the 11 Catalina 37s used for all the match races held at the Long Beach Yacht Club. These same boats are also used for fleet race events and are available for team building and individual charters through the Long Beach Sailing Foundation.