At San Diego Yacht Club’s 2023 International Masters Regatta, one thing was clear: every Master sailor who took to the course was meant to be there. One look at the daily firsts over three days of racing in South San Diego Bay would prove our invited skippers are truly masters of this sport. The regatta was held October 20-22, with 12 invited skippers racing over three days in J/105s. By the time the second day of racing had concluded, nine races were completed, each won by a different skipper.
Six of the 12 skippers competing were from ICOYC Clubs—Nigel Cochrane of Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Rick Goebel of San Diego Yacht Club, Tad Lacey and Don Jesberg of San Francisco Yacht Club, Wolfgang Schaefer of Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and Tracy Usher of St. Francis Yacht Club. Earning an invitation to the International Masters Regatta is a feat in itself, but this year’s skippers proved to be perhaps the most equally matched and skillful ever to attend the event. The caliber of sailing on the course was unparalleled—each race brought new excitement and spectators waited to see who would seize the coveted bullet. Several teams had the potential to seize the title, but no one was more determined than this year’s overall winner, Scott Harris of Coronado Yacht Club.
The third day of racing saw major shake ups from one mark rounding to the next while skippers moved wildly through the standings. Tad Lacey, Cory Sertl, and Gary Jobson were not about to go down without a fight.
A one-hour postponement at the onset of the day only heightened the anticipation as sailors and spectators alike waited for the wind to fill in. Skippers were aggressive at the start and Yon Belausteguigoitia captured his first win of the regatta. Belausteguigoitia went on to secure another bullet in race 12, winning the day.
Race 11 showed just how eager the skippers were with a general recall at the first attempted start. Race Committee responded by displaying the “U” flag and everyone played it safe. Jobson, while hopeful to win the boat end, got squeezed out and started several boat lengths behind the fleet. Undeterred, he fell off to the right side of the course early and sought out fresh air. Jobson took his own advice about resiliency, shared earlier in the day: “When you are out on the racecourse, just keep plugging and looking at things. It’s pretty shifty out there and everybody has the same problems. So, chip away at it and hopefully we can do better.” This served him well as he coasted to his second first-place finish of the regatta.
Everything hinged on the last race of the day. Harris had held onto his lead, but Lacey and Sertl were hot on his heels. Lacey rounded the first weather mark in second and Harris was bringing up the rear in tenth. Harris dominated the downwind leg and by the time he returned for the second weather mark rounding he had gained seven boats. It was clear at that point that Harris’s tenacity was enough to secure him the championship if he could just maintain his position.
As Harris crossed the finish line, he was met with horns blasting and spectators cheering. It was a hard-fought win, down to the very last race for Harris and his team. They finished the regatta with 54 points overall followed by Lacey in second with 61, and Sertl in third with 64.