Hobie 18 North Americans – Avila Beach, CA

Eight Pacific NW teams from Division 4 picked up the challenge to head south and take on Division 2 and the rest of the country in a Hobie 18 showdown on the beaches of Avila, just north of Pismo Beach.  Five days of racing culminated in a total of 16 races.

The first 3 days saw strong winds in the 20-25k range with gusts over 30k.  The last two days the wind settled into a comfortable 10-20k range.  The heavy winds brought three Div. 4 teams to the top of the leader board — Ken Marshack & Val Pioszak, Peter Nelson & Laura Sullivan, and Paul Evenden & Tawnya Fox.  Not far behind were Alexa Edgar & Doug Weston, Gillian Thomson & Ruth Branscombe, Jerry Valeske & (Texan) Dana Gradel, and Cal Bridge & Chris Pomeroy.

A total of 20 18’s were on the line for most of the races, and made for some exciting starts and mark roundings.  Despite the heavy winds, there were few capsizes, owing to the 18’s significant stability.

Wednesday was the most brutal with sustained gusts over 30k and a huge sea state, with just one race before racing was canceled.  Marshack, Nelson, & Evenden all capsized (as well as a few others), but all survived and came away with smiles (more or less).  Peter & Laura capsized just 5 boat lengths from the gate, which the committee was going to shorten the course at.  When Paul & Tawnya came around leading the 2nd lap they did the same thing!

Laura went into the event with a swollen, black eye.  She quickly put to rest rumors that Jerry or Peter were to blame by explaining it came from a collision at Quinault.  Then on Wednesday, while coming into the beach after a harrowing day, her trap handle broke and dislocated her finger.  She was not to be denied, and sailed the final two days with a black eye AND a dislocated finger!!

The wind subsided the last two days and allowed the committee to run 7 more races in comfortable, double-trap conditions.  Under sunny skies it was a sailor’s dream.

Organizers managed to give each team a life jacket similar to the one used by America’s Cup teams.  Shoreside parties and prize giving were held just a mile down from the campsite in downtown Avila, which is a rocking little town.

Overall it was a very wonderful regatta.  It is safe to say a good time was had by all.  Next year’s rumor for the 18 North Americans is on the East Coast.  Stay tuned!