The 2018 Club Championship was held on January 20-21 and, as always, it was the perfect kick-off event on the San Diego Yacht Club racing calendar. Club Champs is one of SDYC’s signature events. This year 15 teams competed in SDYC’s J/22 Fleet and brought a weekend of excitement and enthusiasm to the race dock and La Playa.
According to event chair Joanne O’Dea, Saturday was the most impeccable weather that Club Champs has ever seen. The 15-20 knot breeze in La Playa allowed PRO Alli Bell to start on time at 10:30am and run 30 races on Saturday. Sunday’s conditions were shiftier and more challenging, causing an hour’s postponement in the morning while waiting to be able to set a course. Regardless, competitors completed all scheduled 48 races throughout the weekend—40 in the first stage and 8 additional in the Championship stage.
Event organizers made the decision to switch to a 40 race plus a championship round format after polling the racers after last year's Club Champs. Six teams advanced to the Championship Stage in this new format: Young Guns (Ian Nyenhuis, Noah Nyenhuis, Matt Camet, and Giselle Camet), Ancient Mariners (Kris Zillmann, Julie Mitchell, Sandy Vissman, and Stacey Szabo), Hardesty/Reed/Roberts (Bill Hardesty, Ty Reed, and Melanie Roberts), Camet Racing (Alex Camet, Ashley Camet, and Katie Olsen), Team Sinks/Pleskus (Tyler Sinks, Chuck Sinks, and Al Pleskus), and Team Reiter (Jack Reiter, John Reiter, and Melissa Denman). The Championship Stage consisted of two four-race round-robin series. In the elimination series, the top two teams (Reiter and Sinks) got a bye. The remaining four teams raced to see which two would advance. Team Hardesty/Reed/Roberts and the Ancient Mariners were the top two teams in the elimination series and advanced to the final series. No points carried over, so the final four teams were on equal footing at the beginning of the final series.
Ancient Mariners, Hardesty/Reed/Roberts, Team Sinks/Pleskus, and Team Reiter all brought their A-game to the final series. After the first three races, all four teams were in a virtual tie (within a point of each other) going in to the last race: whichever team won the last race would win the overall championship.
Spectators were tense on the dock as the boats started and sailed through the 3 legs of the last race. But in the end, it was Team Hardesty/Reed/Roberts who came out on top of race 4 and the overall win. In a familiar routine now, Skipper Bill Hardesty has lead his team to win Club Champs in 2016 and 2015. This year Bill sailed with Ty Reed and Melanie Roberts as crew.
According to Hardesty, “Winning the SDYC Club Championship is always a difficult task. It’s a complicated regatta with a tricky format that requires a lot of focus. We discussed amongst our team that we need to get better every race and be our best at the end. We needed to win the final race, so we put everything together and won that critical race. I hope the sailors and those watching from the dock enjoyed the new format.”
Similar to last year, Bay City Brewing Company was at the club this weekend to pour beer for competitors after racing. The awards ceremony was held post racing on Sunday, and this year each member of the winning crew got to take home a cooler from Yeti, SDYC’s newest partner.
Thank you to all of the racers, support crew, Race Committee, and spectators who help to make this annual event fun and inclusive to all members, fleets, families, and even dogs. And special thank you to Joanne for doing another extraordinary job as event chair.