Written by John Riddell – Desert Viper
Arizona Yacht Club – Birthday Regatta – 2010 – Leukemia Cup Weekend
Known more for its phenomenally beautiful ‘Par 5s’ the likes of what Troon North and the TPC Championship course offer than for roll-tacking and gybing, Phoenix, AZ is not widely known as a sailing venue. Despite this, however, it is home to the rebirth of the Viper 640 in the western US and just last weekend served as the field of battle for 10 Vipers fighting for the first points of the 2010 season and the first ever ownership of the highpoints kite, “le maillot jaune” (the Yellow Kite) during Arizona Yacht Club’s annual Birthday Regatta. On Lake Pleasant, there is no such thing as a ‘brisk and steadily growing breeze from 270 degrees, clocking right’, as is on any given sunny Long Beach day, rather, the winds are variably light and ever changing, though I am proud to say less so than many of our beloved politicos inside the beltway these days. Though not the conditions for which Bennet designed the Viper, the Lake does remind folks that in order to win, one must remember how to sail fast in all conditions.
Ranging from 10 down to 2 knots, the wind at the lake provided the Viper fleet with enough force to get off 5 races to start the 2010 season with tight racing. Of the 10 boats racing, the top 5 finished within 10 points of one another, with a tie breaker for 2nd place. Following in the shadow of the Inaugural Anarchy Regatta in San Diego last Fall, at the end of the first day it looked as though Van Heel (#34 – Snake Eyes), finishing 1 & 2 in two races, was going to continue winning and pull off another almost clean sweep of the bullets for the weekend and take “le maillot jaune” back to SoCal. Chapman and Jackson, two locals, were within striking distance, but Van Heel was definitely in form. The second day started off with a beautiful breezy, chilly AZ morning, and though the entire fleet sailed well, it was Davis from TX (#33 – Blur – aptly named because I am sure Timbo Carter’s vision never quite came back into full focus after showing his tolerance level for Mount Gay rum the night before around the campfire… thanks Tim, that was the hardest many of us had laughed in a long time) who ended up taking the regatta and “le maillot jaune” with 3 bullets on the day. (Deserved marketing plug – special thanks to Skip and Harry from Elliot/Pattison Sails for providing the kite to the fleet. It will be sailed well. Thank you.) Davis was consistently fast through the full range of conditions over the entire weekend and is thus deserving of flying “le maillot jaune”, but make no mistake about it, there are plenty of folks already talking about taking it back from him in San Diego in March.
In conjunction with Arizona Yacht Club’s Birthday Regatta, the Leukemia Cup Regatta series kicked off it’s 2010 season. The west coast Viper fleet was proud to have put 10 boats on the line to help kick-off this extremely worthwhile series and would like to extend a very special thanks to Mr. Gary Jobson for making the trip to the desert and entertaining us with his incredible slideshow and inspiring sailing stories. From the fleet, “we hope to see you again next year”.
Along with Mr. Jobson, the fleet would like to extend another special thanks to the Arizona Yacht Club. Every year, without fail, this is one of the ‘don’t miss’ regattas of the year. Granted, the wind, as mentioned above, will always be challenging and makes marketing this event out-of-state a little difficult, but the experience is well worth it. The club prides itself on its ability to entertain and take care of its guests over a 3 day period out at the lake, providing music, fun, friendship and food which simply can’t be beat. Additionally, the annual campfire in the “Viper Pit” is not to be missed… (campfire = lies, lies and more lies about one’s sailing prowess – oh, the stories keep getting better too… if we could govern this country as well as we all claim we can sail, well, you get it…). So, to all the members and the Board of the Arizona Yacht Club, thank you.
10 boats in the desert in January will definitely equate to over 15 in San Diego at the NOODs in March and then potentially 20 at LBRW in June (ahhh, heaven!). The west coast Viper fleet has come a long way over the past few years and does not plan on stopping. The venues and dates are set for the west coast circuit, the competition is getting tighter and the “le maillot jaune” is in play… do you have what it takes?
Photos Courtesy Chrisann Tortora