Date: Saturday July 28 & 29, 2007 (11:00 AM to 3:30 PM, 4.5 hrs on the water.)
Event: Scheduled Potter Yachter event: Cruiser Challenge VIII, Monterey, CA
W/ 42 boats!
Winds: 8
Weather: High fog all day, clearing only as we returned to the marina harbor.

Breakfast was at LouLou's on Warf #2 (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Daughter Jen and I were on the road to Monterey, a drive of 2.5 hours, at 4:30 AM to insure being rigged and ready by the 8:00 AM check-in time. Along the way we passed Steve Potter twice. The first time, just before Gilroy where we pulled off the interstate to drive through town in a fruitless search for a good cup of coffee. The second time, back on highway 1, coming in to Monterey.

Once parked in the Monterey Marina lot, Jen set out to find coffee, while I set to rigging Lazy Ka. After a break for breakfast at Lou lou's on Warf #2, we were rigged and registered just after 8:00 AM, and launched by 8:30. Then it was off to the Monterey Bay Yacht Club to get registered for the day's festivities and the skipper's meeting scheduled for 10:00 AM.

Now I had absolutely no idea what I would be doing. I really don't know the least little bit about how a sailing race was run. But I signed up to race, paid my fees, and settled in for the Skippers meeting to see if I could glean enough to carry this off without being a total embarrassment to Jennifer.

After listening intently during the meeting, and getting a bit of clarification from Mitch Carnes, I felt that I didn't know all that much more than when I sat down at the beginning of the meeting. Jen and I walked back to Lazy Ka which I had left tied up at a dock just behind Lou Lou's. We were about to cast off when Jen put her hand on the bulkhead where a wasp had landed; the administration of first aid for the painful sting she received delayed our departure another 15 minutes.Sails of all sizes gather for a day of racing (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Once away, it was out of the marina past Old Fisherman's Wharf, and out into Monterey Bay to join up with all who had left ahead of us. We motored until we were well clear of the wharfs, then raised the main into light winds. The winds at Monterey characteristically don't come up until late morning, and today was no different. We continued to motor-sail in order to catch up with the others already set in the vicinity of the Race Committee boat that would be signaling the start of the races.

Along the way we picked up a most playful sea lion who danced first behind Lazy Ka, then to the starboard. The aggressiveness of the critter was a concern to Jen who feared that we would have company in the already cramped confines of Lazy Ka's cockpit. The whole encounter seemed to last for a couple of minutes, but was likely no more that 30 excitement filled seconds.

Sea Lion playing in our wake (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Our friend waves goodbye (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

. . . And he's off to play with Keith Hubbard (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Sails headed out to the course (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Race 1: Now remember, I still wasn't too sure of what I was doing; I wasn't clear on how the races would start and be run. But with Jen's help rereading the instructions issued at the skippers meeting, and watching the start of the first two races, I got a pretty good idea of how to start. I even developed something that resembled a race strategy.

Jen and I managed to be one of the first boats to cross the starting line, a feat that we would replicate for the second and third races as well. The lateen rigged P-14s of Harry Gordon and Keith Hubbard (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

On the theory that Potters sail best with weight forward, I sent Jen up onto the foredeck for the duration of race. No sooner was she settled in, than she jumped her buns up onto the cabin with her back against the mast. "Are there sharks out here," she asked. "I saw a fin sticking out of the water." I assured her that the sharks of Monterey Bay were nothing to be concerned about. We settled in to make the first marker buoy with only two changes in tack. We were in third or fourth place as we rounded the mark, pretty good for a racing virgin like myself.

Not 30 seconds after turning the marker, disaster struck. The main sheeting mechanism decided to disassemble, leaving me to grab the sheets in hand and try to sail with no way to secure the main sheet. But good fortune was with us; the parts had all landed in the cockpit and were available for reasonably quick assembly. Putting the assembly right took some three or four minutes. The challenges of trying to maintain some semblance of sail trim and the boat pointed in the right direction slowed my progress. By the time I was under control again and made the turn at the second marker, I has slipped another three or four places.

Finishing the race was a fiasco of the first order. With several boats all maneuvering to get across the line, the wind dies. A P-15 to my starboard stalls, and turns into Lazy Ka. I manage to deflect the collision with a hand to his bow pulpit. Seconds later, Mike Dolan on my port side, turns into Lazy Ka to avoid a collision with a P-15. Again I was able to prevent any potential for damage with a had to his pulpit as well. Our hard working race committee (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Race 2: While waiting for the second race to start, we are sailing an orbiting course that took us back and forth along the starting line. While on a northward tack, Mitch Carnes calls out on the radio that he has sited pod of "Dolphin" north of the Race Committee boat. Jen and I could see them breaking the surface of the water some 100 yards off our bow. The sight was breathtaking. A dozen or more, churning the water as they would leap out of the water; it was imposable to get an accurate count, and no one had the presence of mind to take pictures.Lazy Ka running with the wind (PHOTO: Don Person)

Later conversations speculated that the pod may have been Pilot Whales, and I concluded that these were the "sharks" Jen had spotted during the first race.

Our start for the second race came off better that the first. With a replay of a situation that we experienced at the first mark. It seems that for unknown reasons, the winds became somewhat shifty at the mark, even letting up from time to time. This made it difficult for all as we approached. We'd set a good course guaranteed to make the mark, only to find that we'd fall of the line within the last 50 yards. This is one of those strategic calls on the part of the skipper. Some skippers chose to sail longer leg, higher above the mark before making the final tack to the buoy. This resulted in less frustration on the approach to Jen riding high on the bow of Lazy Ka (PHOTO: Don Person)the mark, but seemed to give little advantage as most of us who chose the shorter course close to the mark were able to make the needed correction at little expense.

Race 3: By the time we started the third race, I was feeling pretty confident at my newly acquired skills. I managed to finish mid field in both races, saving myself any embarrassment. I had come to the conclusion that races are won by strategy, how the skipper attacks the course, and execution. It seems to boil down to a winner who make fewer errors. I saw distances change between boats when a skipper would fail to trim properly or recover efficient trim after a tack change. I can admit being guilty a time or two during the day.

The fickle wind condition was still evident as we made the turn a the first mark. On our approach we were doing all we could to sail a short course; we had picked up Pat Brennan on our tail by about 30 feet. I was managing to sail pretty close to the wind, but not close enough to stay above the mark; another tack change was needed. Pat changed first, then I, making the needed 10 or 15 yards to get above the buoy, I tacked a last time. On passing the mark, I looked back for Pat. He seemed to have stalled and now was some 50 feet behind . . . Tactics and execution!

Sea Lion singing to welcome us back to the marina (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Passing the Committee boat, headed for the second marker, we hear a call from the boat that this third race is two laps . . . we gotta go around once more. By 3:00 we had finished the course and were headed back into the marina to secure for the night.

Landed at 3:30, Lazy Ka was tied up at her slip for the night.

The schedule of evening activities included a social hour at the Monterey Bay Yacht Club (4:00-5:00,) and presentation of acknowledgements between 5:00 and 6:00. It was great time with lots of smiles all around. It seemed everyone had a great time and is ready to go at it again next year.

The overall results were:

1. Hank Benjamin, Marshall Sanderling 2. Justin Pipkorn, Vagabond 20

1. Rick Clark, Catalina 16 2. Dave Kautz, O’Day 19 *3. Jerry Barrilleaux, P19 4. Eric Zilbert, P19 5. Jim Cayan, Laguna Balboa 16 6. Dick Herman, SunCat 17 7. Wes Harrison, P19 7. Mike Swartz, P19 9. Ray Lazano, P19 10. Dan Rickert, Com Pac 19 11. Greg Yu, P19 12. Bud Kerner, P19 13. John Choi, P19 14. Charlie Davidson, P19 15. Dave White, P19

1. Dan Phy, Montgomery 15 2. Mike Trueman, Montgomery 15 *3. Dave Bacon, P15 4. Steve Potter, P15 5. Rich McDevitt, P15 6. Oscar Koechlin, P15 7. Mitch Carnes, P15 7. Harry Gordon, P14 9. Jim Pettit, P15 10. Pat Brennan, P15 11. Jerry Kergan, P15 12. Mike Dolan, P15 13. Dory Taylor, P15 14. Keith Hubbard, P14 15. Rob Sampson, P14

Axle Grease Award: Richard Malone Guts and Glory Award: Ed Zilbert
*International Marine Award for first P19 and P15

The City of Monterey makes it very easy to travel back and forth between the wharfs on the downtown water front and the shops and restaurants Cannery Row. Jen and I had discovered the free shuttle last year, and decided to take advantage of it again. Jen was in the mood for Mexican, and I recall that there was an El Torrito Restaurant at Cannery Row. So we jumped on the shuttle and were seated for dinner in 30 minutes.

Jen sleeping in aboard Lazy Ka on Sunday morning (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Following dinner we strolled along Cannery Row, finding our way into the Ghirardelli Chocolate Store for some sweets for desert, then back to the marina. While I rigged the boom-tent to keep the fog off of us during the night. Monterey gets plenty of fog, and without the tent the moisture condenses on everything, finding its way inside as well.

Jen had been spending every available minute with her nose buried in Harry Potter #6; trying to get it finished so that she could start #7 on her trip to Florida leaving on Tuesday. Jen turned in early, taking advantage of the reading lights in Lazy Ka's cabin, and read for a couple of hours. I slid into my bunk at about 9:00 PM, and was asleep in no time. The tent did the job. With a couple of the companionway boards in place to further ward off the elements, we both slept soundly.

Sunday morning, I was up before 7:00. I wandered over to Lou lou's for a cup of coffee, and found several other early rising Potter Yachters ready to relive Saturday's events. Then it was out to the parking lot where other were hauling their boats out to hit the road early.

My plans to get in some Sunday sailing were cancelled when I realized that The San Jose Grand Prix was running in addition to the Garlic Festival at Gilroy. Each of these events are along our path home, and attract big crowds. If we didn't want to get caught in traffic, we'd need to be past San Jose in the early afternoon . . . maybe 2 o'clock at the latest.

Jen was out of bed at about 9:00, and Lazy Ka was on her trailer by 10:00. With the distraction of a little more social time, We were pulling out of Monterey for the trip home by Noon.