While Enfant Terrible continues to set a blistering pace, the trailing boats at the Cal Cup are tightly bunched and numerous placements will be up for grabs going into the final day.
Skipper Alberto Rossi steered Enfant Terrible to its third victory of the regatta in Race seven on Friday then followed with a fourth and a second to further pull away. Tactician Vasco Vascotto and team have been on top of their game all week as the Italian boat has finished no worse than fourth in nine races so far.
Enfant Terrible, which has been runner-up in four races, has increased its lead every day and now has a low score of 19 points. Flash Gordon 6, skippered by Helmut Jahn of Chicago, stands second in the overall standings with 33 points.
“The Italians have new sails and we don’t. That makes a difference,” Jahn said when asked why Enfant Terrible has posted such a strong string of results. “Today they were not as dominant as the first two days, which tells you the sails were probably designed for the light to moderate breeze that tends to predominate in California.”
Winds have consistently blown from the southwest throughout the regatta and Friday saw the highest velocity so far with 15 knots creating white caps on the Pacific Ocean. Flash Gordon 6 reveled in those conditions, winning Race nine when the wind was at its peak.
Estate Master led around the first upwind mark, but Flash Gordon 6 showed superb downwind speed and caught up to the Australian boat. Flash Gordon 6 split with Estate Master at the gate and quickly moved into first place on the second upwind leg.
“I said yesterday that when we get the lead we need to hold onto it and this time we did that,” Jahn said.
Jahn and his crew on Flash Gordon 6 have improved their performance each day and Friday’s score line of five – three – one was the best yet. Tactician Kelvin Harrap is doing his first regatta aboard Flash Gordon 6 and has quickly developed solid chemistry with Jahn and co-helmsman Greg Reynolds.
“In the second race today we got a bad start, but Kelvin called for the left side and we passed a lot of boats. It’s a miracle that we finished third,” Jahn said. “There have been some ups and downs, but overall we’ve had a very consistent performance in this regatta.”
As one of the longest-tenured owners in the Farr 40 class, Jahn does not worry about winning individual regattas as his focus is always on the season-ending world championship.
“This is not do or die. We will not lose any sleep over this result, whatever it winds up being,” he said. “We are out here to have fun and improve with the goal of being at our best when the worlds comes around.”
Friday brought a milestone moment for San Diego skipper Rick Goebel and the Insanity team, which won Race eight. It was the first victory on the International Circuit for Goebel, a first-year owner competing in just his third class event.
“It feels incredible! We are absolutely amazed to win a Farr 40 race in our first season,” said Goebel, who was equally thrilled with a third place finish in Race seven. “To be sailing at the front of a fleet of this caliber is way beyond our expectations.”
Insanity got a great start to Race eight and went hard right on the advice of tactician Greg “Twister” Tawaststjerna. “We dug into some real good pressure on the right side then came back and crossed everybody. Life is a heck of a lot easier when you get out front,” Goebel said with a laugh.
Voodoo Chile, skippered by Andrew Hunn of Tasmania, chased Insanity around the course and Goebel praised his crew for working very hard to protect its narrow lead. “We weren’t extending, we were defending. Fortunately, we had the boat speed to hold our first place.”
Goebel and company certainly are not looking like newcomers to the class as they appear well on the way to a third straight victory within the Corinthian division. Insanity, which previously was the top Corinthian entry at both the Midwinter Championship and the West Coast Championship, has a low score of 55 points. Temptress, skippered by Ray Godwin of Huntington Beach, California, is second in the seven-boat Corinthian fleet with 78 points.
“We have a good boat and we have come together as a team pretty well,” Goebel said. “We are still learning every time we go out on the water and are definitely getting better at boat-handling.”
White Knight was one Corinthian boat that showed marked improvement on Friday. Skipper Zoltan Katinszky, a Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club member, steered the boat to three single digits finishes on the day.
Katinszky explained that his normal main trimmer, Brian Janney, is sailing aboard Wild Oats XI in the Transpac Race. The San Pedro resident is also without his usual foredeck crew.
“Any time you change two people it is going to affect your performance for a bit. Today we finally started jelling as a team,” Katinszky said. “Ian Paice is filling in as main trimmer and he is getting really good. That was the big reason why we were better today.”
White Knight moved up to fifth in the Corinthian standings and Katinszky is hopeful of gaining another place on Saturday when two races are expected to be held.
“We have a bad habit of starting regattas poorly and digging ourselves a big hole. We really need to change that moving forward,” he said. “Today was a real confidence-boost because we had pretty good boat speed.”
Katinszky spoke for every participating owner-driver when he expressed amazement at how competitive this edition of the Cal Cup has been. “This fleet is just incredible! The time difference between the first and last boats is like nothing. It’s crazy coming into the marks and you can lose an awful lot of places by making one bad decision or even the tiniest mistake.”
Estate Master tactician Ian Williams conducted a question-and-answer session with junior members from host California Yacht Club on Friday evening after racing. Williams, the current and five-time world match racing champion, discussed a wide range of topics while the youngsters hung on every word.
“The kids were thrilled and excited to hear from such a great sailor as Ian Williams. They had lots of questions for Ian and he answered them all in a very entertaining way,” Farr 40 class secretary Tink Chambers said. “The class sends a big thank you to Ian for taking the time to pass his experience along to the next generation of racers.”