Inverness Yacht Club hosted the 82nd International 110 National Championship regatta on Tomales Bay on August 8-12. With the largest 110 fleet in the US, InvYC hosts the regatta every three years. Twenty boats competed in this year’s regatta, including two father-son teams from the recently formed fleet on Bainbridge Island, WA. Two more family teams came from Hull YC outside Boston, MA, with five-time Nationals champion Tom Craig crewing for his son Stewart, and 2013 champion Ross Weene from Bristol, RI. In all, five boats competed with family crews, which is always great to see. And as class president and chief promoter Milly Biller likes to say, the 110 Class is a group of best friends that see each other once a year.
The International 110 is a narrow, 24-ft, double-ended, two-person keelboat with a trapeze. They were first built in 1939. In the 1950s and ’60s, they raced actively out of Richmond YC. Since then, the center of gravity of the class has migrated an hour’s drive away to Inverness YC, where there are more than 20 boats.
The National Championship regatta is a seven-race, one-throwout series raced over four days. This year, Tomales Bay served up its typical west to WNW breeze. Wind strength for the first two days was 6-10 knots, with occasional gusts in the mid-teens. For the final two days of racing, the wind piped up to 15-18 knots, with gusts over 20. Racers contended with puff wind shifts of up to 30 degrees at times — all too common on Tomales Bay.
On Day 1, veteran 110 sailor David West, and Skip Allan, a renowned sailor who’s new to the 110, each won a race. However, with two seconds, Ross Weene led Skip by one point. This was a harbinger of how Ross and Skip would duke it out for the rest of the series.
The wind on Day 2 was also moderate, but with more dramatic wind shifts than on the previous day. Once again, Skip Allan and David West each scored a win. Ross kept his 1-point lead over Skip with a second and third.
Day 3 brought the more typical strong westerly, which presented more challenges for the competitors. Bren Meyer and Erik Bentzen each won a race. Skip Allan took a 5-point lead over Ross Weene, who shrimped and fouled his spinnaker while leading the first race and finished ninth.
With six races completed, each team’s worst score would be thrown out after the seventh and final race. To win the regatta, Skip needed to beat Ross, or have Ross finish fourth or worse. As expected, both teams kept a close eye on each other. They traded off leading the fleet for the entire five-leg race.
Video of Race 7, shot by Ashley Tobin. “Skip and Ross (yellow boat) were tied going into this race. Both are very skilled match racers, and it was all about match racing for them,” said Milly Biller. “Bren Meyer (red boat) was third and Erik Bentzen from Bainbridge Island (white boat) was fourth in this race.”
At the finish, Skip nosed out Ross by a few feet to win the race and the championship. It was a dramatic finish to a very competitive regatta.
Third place went to David West and Bill Pearson, fourth to Bren Meyer and Erik Menzel, and fifth to Erik and Blake Bentzen from Poulsbo YC. The final results are available at www.invernessyachtclub.com/regatta/72P2tHQWY5/results.