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Cal Maritime Keelhaulers triumph in 2022 Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup Regatta at Los Angeles Yacht Club

Cal Maritime set the tone for the 2022 Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup-California Maritime Academy Invitational Intercollegiate Regatta, logging the first bullet of the event, and continued to dominate in three thrilling days of racing in the waters off San Pedro. Harbor Cup, which ran March 11 through today, was organized and hosted by Los Angeles Yacht Club (LAYC). Univ. of Hawaii finished second, with Univ. of Calif. Santa Barbara third.

This year marked Cal Maritime’s eighth victory in this prestigious co-ed big-boat competition. The Keelhaulers bolted out of the gate with three bullets on the first blustery day of racing. By Day Two they had declared their dominance, with a 13-point lead over the next opponent.

A Saturday night hearing and decision over a mark-room protest saw their biggest challenger – US Naval Academy – disqualified in Race Seven. That put Navy at the bottom of a pack of opponents barely within striking distance, including UCSB, Univ. Rhode Island and Hawaii.

After two exceptional days of racing, Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12, Sunday opened light – due largely to the time change. “Mother Nature does not observe daylight savings time,” noted PRO Tom Trujillo, and races were postponed; commencing at 12:35 in 5 knots of breeze from the south. The course was twice around and when the fleet split at the leeward gate, Hawaii took the lead and did not let go. The Rainbows finished first in Race Nine, followed by Navy Midshipmen and UCSB Gauchos.

Cal Maritime, who had been OCS at the start, rebounded impressively and finished fourth. By then, their victory in the Harbor Cup was all but guaranteed, however, a fierce fight for silver and battle for bronze ensued, with four teams vying for the last two spots on the podium: Hawaii, UCSB, Navy, and Univ. of Rhode Island.

Conditions continued to test the fleet into the final race. Several boats did not make the pin end of the start line, and URI grazed the buoy, necessitating a penalty turn. For the final match, PRO Trujillo had called for a three-lap race of half-mile legs, in building, shifting breeze. The Rainbows, third around at the first windward mark, gained on the downwind and overtook their opponents to grab hold of the lead, crossing the line first in Race 10. The Keelhaulers finished second – locking up first overall – and College of Charleston third.

Cal Maritime skipper Kyle Collins said he felt “pretty good, a little tired, and very relieved,” at the victory at Harbor Cup. “Honestly it was a little stressful! We had really great competition, and going into it we had had some shifts in crew and positions. So there was a lot of unknown. But after a while, it was pretty clear we would be able to work it all out.” Work it out they did, with five firsts in 10 races.

Collins added, “Cal Maritime is such an incredible school and we’re always traveling to the East Coast to race; but to be here so close to home, with so many supporters, was cool. And this event is absolutely incredible. I have had the opportunity to sail in hundreds of regattas all over the world and this is the easiest and smoothest for competitors to come to. We show up, we race these great boats, we get fed and given places to stay, and everyone is so friendly. It’s just incredible. A big thank you to everyone who makes this possible.”

Univ. of Hawaii clinched second place, thanks to steady improvement over the three-day event. The Rainbows have competed in Harbor Cup five times in 14 years. A native of Los Angeles, Kelsie Grant is a crew member on the Hawaii team and was thrilled to show off her home club. “I loved being able to share LAYC with my Hawaii crew and friends. It felt really good to experience the hospitality and fun racing from a different perspective, and made me really proud of my LAYC roots.”

UCSB won third overall; their second podium position in five years of Harbor Cup racing.

LAYC Staff Commodore Jim Morgan said the event was conceived in 2007 after Cal Maritime competed in the Naval Academy’s Kennedy Cup regatta. “Bill Eisenhardt was president of Cal Maritime then, and asked, ‘Why in the world don’t we have an event like that on the West Coast?’ So I jumped on it,” Morgan exclaimed. He secured the use of the Catalina 37 fleet from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation (LBSF) as a platform for the competition: the same boats used in the celebrated Congressional Cup regatta.

“LAYC and Cal Maritime are indebted to LBSF for their stalwart support over the last 14 years, without which this event wouldn’t be possible. Our hats are off to Charter Manager Mary Voigt and the entire LBSF,” Morgan added.

Morgan explained that each year, the Harbor Cup committee selects four East Coast teams, four West Coast teams, and two ‘President’s picks’ from a large number of applicants. “It is a very prestigious, very coveted event, and we have a lot of disappointed teams every year,” Morgan sighed, “but there are only 10 boats.”

“The Port of LA has been our key sponsor and has allowed us to make this a really first-class event for the competitors,” Morgan continued. The Harbor Cup is the only intercollegiate big boat event where competitors are completely hosted. “LAYC really steps up to the plate with lodging, meals, boats and hospitality – there’s no cost to competitors, once they show up,” Morgan pointed out. “It really spotlights LAYC and what we have to offer, with great sailing conditions, a gracious club, and it’s the only ‘offshore’ event actually held on the ocean.” It also encourages environmental awareness, stewardship, and helps transition small boat and dinghy sailors into a post-college sailing platform and envision the sport of sailing as a life-long experience.

Morgan was the POLA Director of Port Construction and Maintenance during Harbor Cup’s introduction in 2008 and has since retired. But he and wife Jill remain a driving force and head cheerleaders for Harbor Cup each year. “What can I say – it’s really fun! The energy and excitement these kids bring to LAYC, and how it brings our club together; it’s my favorite weekend of the year.”

“Hosting the Harbor Cup is really exciting,” added Kelly Marie, Commodore of LAYC. “It brings a lot of joy to a lot of people – the sailors, the volunteers, club members and staff: everyone involved in putting this on for the students.”
“Plus, my son goes to Cal Maritime, and there are also two Maryland teams we’re rooting for,” she said, recognizing her hometown of Annapolis. “It’s a real honor and thrill to have the opportunity to host this event every year, along with our friends at the Port of LA and Cal Maritime.”

For complete results and further information please visit www.layc.org.

This article was released by the Los Angeles Yacht Club.