The Bears offshore sailors started their season off the first weekend of spring break traveling to California to compete in the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup. The Harbor Cup is hosted by Cal Maritime and the Los Angeles Yacht Club with the generous support of the Port of Los Angeles. It is an invitational inter-collegiate big boat competition, which in its 12th year draws sailing teams from the nation's top universities, federal service academies and international teams.
The three day event is sailed in Los Angeles Harbor and the Pacific Ocean in Catalina 37 sloops provided by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation with a crew of eight. Mother-nature delivered challenging conditions each day that tested every team and the Bears were no exception. Racing on Friday was held in Los Angeles Harbor due to high winds and large sea state. Sailing inside the breakwater and using smaller sails, three races were sailed in 18-20 knots. Coast Guard had not been able to practice before the event and the rust showed. With finishes of 9,8,7 for the day, the team showed improvement but had an uphill battle for the rest of the series.
After re-grouping overnight and making some position changes, the team was ready and it showed on the water. Sailing in the Pacific Ocean with westerly winds ranging from 12-16 knots the Bears had great starts and rounded the 1st mark – 1,3,1,3,1 in each of the five races. The team only managed one 3rd place finish in those races but the difference from day one was staggering. The final day was also sailed in the ocean where racing was postponed until the wind filled in. A light and shifty breeze filled in enough for two more races and the Bears continued to improve finishing 7th overall. College of Charleston won the event, followed by the Irish team from CORK Institute of Technology and the home team Cal Maritime.
Sailing for Coast Guard were skipper Eric Gimple, Jesse McKnight on main and tactics, Gregory Gaskel, Megan Wadleigh and Richard O'Leary trimming, Merrill Cline in pit, Liam Long and Jared Gaudineer at mast and Toby Ferl on the bow. Practice on the Thames River will start right after break and the next event is at home on 6-7 April.