SAN DIEGO — Out of 12 legendary sailors, one has sailed away with the title of International Masters Regatta Champion.
On the final day of racing it was Augie Diaz who finished in first place for the three day regatta, continuing his streak of impressive finishes. Diaz also took gold for the 2013 Star Western Hemisphere Championship and 2013 Star Winter Series Championship.
Established in 1975 by Don Trask, the International Masters Regatta features the best master sailors from around the world and is being hosted by San Diego Yacht Club for the third time in the regatta’s history. A maximum of 12 skippers were invited to compete in J/105 sailboats around a buoy course in San Diego Bay. Sailors over the age of 60 are eligible to compete as skippers, while the remaining crew members are at least 45 years of age. Skippers and their crews will rotate through each of the J/105 boats in order to ensure that the playing field is evened and the best sailor wins.
Saturday, Oct. 25 saw steady winds ranging from 9 to 12 knots and set the stage for a total of four highly competitive races. By the end of the day it was Bob Fisher who led the regatta, followed by Gary Jobson and Augie Diaz who sat a mere five points behind the leader. However, even with picture perfect San Diego racing conditions, the regatta’s most memorable moments happened off the water. In an annual tradition, each of the 12 skippers shared the stories they have collected over decades of sailing by introducing their crews with speeches that are equal parts comedy roast and commendation
The final day of the regatta would bring back the shifting winds, but the race committee worked hard to spot out the steadiest locations, moving the course and weather marks accordingly. The founder of the regatta Don Trask and Jonathan Wright both excelled in conditions on Sunday, Oct. 26, taking them from their previous positions in the middle of the scoreboard to second and third place overall. Unable to manage the shifty winds, day two’s leader Bob Fisher fell to sixth place.
For many competitors, the regatta was not just a competition to see who can still sail the fastest, but a way to see familiar faces. Several of the skippers were also college rivals, turning the Masters regatta into a rematch of sorts.
Bill Campbell, who crewed for childhood friend Gary Jobson said “I had a great time. The competition was excellent and all the competitors want to do well. But they also want to spend time with people they have known for many years, and catch up with their lives and families,” he said. “It’s a regatta with a bunch of guys and women who are simply happy to be able to continue competing in the sport we have known and loved for most of our lives.”
Diaz wasn’t the only one to walk away with a trophy as Malin Burnham, the force that made the regatta possible, introduced a new tradition into the competition. The last place finisher Tom Ehman was awarded with a silver shovel, which as Burnham describes is to help “shovel yourself out of last place for next year.” Though it’s a new tradition, the shovel already represents what this regatta is about: a fun way to honor the legends of the sport.
To see the complete list of competitors, view race results at sdyc.org/masters.