Written by Alex Steele

Wow, what a fun regatta!! This was our second regatta in the Viper and it was a great one. The weather for the San Diego NOODs was nearly perfect with mild temperatures, clear skies, and good wind. the race committee ran nine quality races over three days. Coronado Yacht Club is a great venue and their hospitality gracious. We came out of the gate pretty hot and on day one that saw us win two races and a third in the last race. We were closely followed by Kevin Taugher & Chuck Tripp’s ‘Hot Mess’ and Mark Folkman’s ‘Slitherin’.

This was our first regatta with wind and new sails so our focus was to sail clean and smart. We found downwind tactics to be very difficult in the viper as getting rolled or having a puff fill from behind was nerve racking. The general rule we developed was, after the top mark if we couldn’t make a definitive decision on which side had more pressure, go straight if you are planing and gybe if you were not or if it meant getting away from traffic. This really is pretty specific to the wind we were seeing that day.

The second day again proved to be champagne sailing with clear skies, 75 degrees and 12-15 knots. The first race saw Jay Golison leading around two marks before missing a course change and rounding the wrong mark with a least a 30 boat length lead. That allowed ‘Hot Mess” to take the race victory and the overall lead at that point in the regatta. This was even more impressive as Kevin’s young son and his friend were part of the crew for the day. The next three races were kind of a blur to me; the right was extremely favored with more wind and current going upwind. Jim Sears’ ‘FNG’ was very consistent on his first day racing after missing Friday. Ed Feo’s ‘Locomotion’ showed a serious improvement in speed from his first day with new sails (Editor note: and 2x NOODs winner Sarah Hester) while Folkman pulled off two wins in a row.

The lesson we took out of these races was to really push to the laylines downwind and to avoid the center of the track. The other lesson of the day was the port gybe douse we learned watching Tim Carter’s ‘BITUSA’ before the second start. We had a bad douse in the first race so with the new technique we decided not to do another starboard douse until we figured out how to do it consistently well.

The final day saw us comfortable sitting on a 7 point lead ahead of ‘Locomotion’ and 10 on ‘Slitherin.’ Our plan was to stay in touch with the competition and to sail conservatively. The first race Feo sailed a great first beat and rounded first, followed by us in second with Tony Chapman’s ‘Little Wing’ and Golison. The last run saw Feo well ahead with the three of us fighting it out. Golison ended up rolling us and we went to a soak mode. We thought it could get interesting until a non-racing 50 ft Beneteau decided to call leeward on us that allowed Golison to definitely get past. The second race saw us get flushed after the start and then realize the right was going to come in hard. We had around a 40 boat length lead at the top over the pack with only Carson Reynolds’ ‘Bolt’ which also went right on our tail. We got reeled in on the downwind by the same shift, however, we held on for the win and the race to the hoist.

Overall, I really enjoyed this regatta and the incredibly close competition. The class is great and I can’t wait for the next regatta. A big thanks to Coronado Yacht Club for hosting a great event, Kmag from Ullman Sails for getting our sails done in time for the event and the other Viper sailors for welcoming us to the fleet.

Alex Steele

USA 153 ‘Last Call’