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Cal Maritime Repeats at L.A. Harbor Cup

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. The Keelhaulers continued to dominate in three thrilling days of racing in the waters off San Pedro on March 11-13. Los Angeles Yacht Club hosted the Cup. The University of Hawaii finished second, with UC Santa Barbara third.

Cal Maritime sailors
The Cal Maritime Keelhaulers. Cal Maritime is located in Vallejo.
© 2022 Laurie Morrison

This year marked Cal Maritime’s eighth victory in this prestigious coed big-boat competition. The Keelhaulers bolted out the gate with three bullets on the first blustery day of racing. By Day 2 they had declared their dominance, with a 13-point lead.

After two exceptional days of racing on Friday and Saturday, Sunday opened light — due largely to the time change. “Mother Nature does not observe daylight saving time,” noted PRO Tom Trujillo. Races were postponed until 12:35, with 5 knots of breeze from the south. The course was twice around. When the fleet split at the leeward gate, Hawaii took the lead and did not let go. The Rainbows finished first in Race 9, followed by the Navy Midshipmen and UCSB Gauchos.

Catalina 37s start
A Catalina 37 fleet start at the L.A. Harbor Cup Regatta.
© 2022 Laurie Morrison

Cal Maritime had been OCS at the start, but rebounded and finished fourth. By then, they had all but guaranteed their victory. However, a fierce fight for silver and a battle for bronze ensued.

Conditions continued to test the fleet into the final race. Several boats did not make the pin end of the startline, and URI grazed the buoy, necessitating a penalty turn. For the final match, 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 the College of Charleston Cougars third.

Cal Maritime skipper Kyle Collins said he felt “pretty good, a little tired, and very relieved,” at the victory. “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.

Team with trophies
The coed Keelhaulers team, with the rather substantial and impressive perpetual trophies.
© 2022 Laurie Morrison

Collins added, “Cal Maritime is such an incredible school. We’re always traveling to the East Coast to race, but to be here so close to home, with so many supporters, was cool. 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. A big thank you to everyone who makes this possible.”

University 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 crewmember on the Hawaii team. She was thrilled to show off her home club. “I loved being able to share LAYC with my Hawaii crew and friends. It made me really proud of my LAYC roots.”

LAYC staff commodore Jim Morgan said the event was conceived in 2007 after Cal Maritime competed in the Naval Academy’s Kennedy Cup regatta (which Cal Maritime won in 2021). “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 — the same boats used in the Congressional Cup.

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. “There are only 10 boats.”

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’s the only ‘offshore’ event actually held on the ocean.” It also encourages environmental awareness and stewardship, and helps transition small-boat and dinghy sailors into a post-college sailing platform and envision the sport of sailing as a lifelong experience.

Red and white spinnakers
A spinnaker run with the Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse in the background.
© 2022 Laurie Morrison

Morgan was the Port of Los Angeles director of Port Construction and Maintenance during Harbor Cup’s introduction in 2008. He has since retired. “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.”

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