Over the weekend of September 24 and 24, 2002, five high school teams from the Northwest raced in Penn Cove, WA for the right to represent the Northwest at the High School Keelboat Championships to be held on December 10 and 11 in St. Petersburg, Florida: the Ballard Beavers, the Downtown School Sockeye Salmon, the Bainbridge Spartans, the Oak Harbor, WA Wildcats and the Lincoln, OR Cardinals. Both the Ballard and Downtown crews were composed of CYC junior race team members and Bainbridge also had crew from CYC.
photo by Michael Dougherty
Thanks to the generosity of the Oak Harbor, WA, San Juan 24 Fleet, the teams raced in four prepared SJ 24s. In the regatta, one team sat out each race, and the teams changed boats each race in order to even out differences in boat performance. Over the weekend, the excellent race committee ran 10 races on the east end of Penn Cove, six on Saturday and four on Sunday, so each team scored eight races and sailed twice in each boat.
The Ballard team – Arden Rathkopf on the helm, Sam Airhart handling the sheets, Simone Zuriford on the main and Phoebe Mach on foredeck - jumped into the lead quickly, with three firsts and one second in the first rotation of boats, leading Bainbridge (with two firsts, a second and a third) by three points. Ballard kept the regatta lead with another first and two seconds in its next three races, and had wrapped up the Regional Championship after the ninth race of the regatta. Importantly they won with the better boats and were able to get at least second when assigned the slower boats. Conditions were perfect – a 10 knot westerly all day on Saturday and with one postponement on Sunday the westerly, with just enough shifts to make it interesting, filled in nicely for the rest of the day.
photo by Michael Dougherty
The Downtown School won the last two races of the regatta to close the gap but Bainbridge finished one point ahead of Downtown to claim second place. Lincoln was fourth and Oak Harbor fifth.
The juniors sail in dinghies so mastering the 1970 designed IOR quarter-tonner with a masthead symmetrical spinnaker showed the quick learning ability of all the juniors. CYC director Mark Bradner and Staff Commodore Ken Johnson were able to take out members from the crews from Ballard, Downtown and Bainbridge on their SJ 24s in the weeks before the regatta to familiarize them with the idiosyncrasies of the class. Mark and Ken agreed that not only were the juniors all excellent sailors but importantly were very appreciative, eager to learn and just genuinely nice folks of the type who would be welcome on their boats at any time.
The December nationals will be sailed in J/70s, and any practice and racing Seattle J/70 skippers can provide the Ballard High team will be most appreciated. Good luck, Beavers, in St. Petersburg!