The 84th Southern California Yachting Association Midwinter Regatta ended in spectacular fashion on Sunday with the winners getting all the accolades they deserved after their wonderful performance in the two-day competition off Long Beach, California.
Once upon recent times the local sailing community was warned that 'the Vipers are coming,' and now it's fair to say they've arrived.
Jim Sears is sold, even more so after winning the eight-boat Viper 640 class by a single point over class newcomer Kevin Taugher in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's share of the 84th Southern California Yachting Association Midwinter Regatta Saturday and Sunday.
'It was fun,' said Sears, 46, an Emmy-nominated co-host of the award-winning talk show 'The Doctors' who bought his boat only two years ago and recently joined ABYC to compete in the class.
'That's why I joined,' Sears said. 'This weekend there were several guys that had just gotten boats, but it was real tight racing.'
The Viper 640 website pitches that 'at 21 feet long and only 748 pounds, the Viper 640 combines the stiffness of a keelboat with the acceleration and planning abilities of a dinghy.'
Taugher won the last two races, but Sears held onto second each time to net 11 points. Taugher, with three firsts to Sears' two, would have won a tiebreaker.
'It was fun,' Sears said.
Asked if his TV career interfered with his racing, crew Rachel Ellis interjected, 'It may be the other way around.'
Other notable winners were Holt Condon of San Francisco and crew Reeve Dunne in 505s, Australian Phil Toth now of Long Beach in Finns, Paul Galvez of Dana Point YC in International 14s, Matt Strube of San Diego with a seven-race sweep in A-Cats, ABYC's Freddie Stevens and crew Dennis Allison with five firsts in seven Cal 20 races, Scott Miller and wife Patty of San Diego in Formula 18 catamarans and ABYC's Jay Golison with a seven-race sweep in Laser Masters.
The temperature Sunday slipped more than 10 degrees from Saturday's mid-70s and the wind took an unusual southeasterly turn but held steady at seven to eight knots and even kicked in with gusts to 15 at day's end.
Also, veterans Stu Robertson and Bruce Golison had a shootout in the Lido 14-A class on the inside Bay course that saw them tied going into the ninth and last race, with Golison owning the tiebreaker with three firsts to two. Golison won the seventh and eighth races before Robertson clinched it in a six-inch photo finish.
Earlier, in the day's first mark rounding, Golison had to do a penalty turn after crossing Robertson too close on port tack and dropped about five spots before fighting back to finish fourth.
Meanwhile, Sears held on tight. One of his three crew called in sick Saturday, but he found local veteran Scott Dickson available to join Rachel and himself, but only for Saturday, and he picked up Shane Young for Sunday.
Then, with the wind up late in the day, he hit a mark, 'and by the time we re-rounded we'd lost five boats,' he said.
He managed to regain second place---just enough for victory.
Toth, now working for Ullman Sails here, represented Australia's Mooloolaba YC and is just back to ordinary sailing after a four-year Olympic campaign as crew on a Star that just missed going to London.
You can't miss him. At age 31, he is 6-7 and 228 pounds---pro linebacker size in the U.S.
'I played rugby in Australia,' he said.
The Millers, after figuring out the conditions, came on strong with a 2-1-2 Sunday to win the F-18s by two points.
'In the first race we had a bad start, went right and got kicked,' he said. 'Then we stayed on the left side the rest of the day.'
Crew collaboration was not a problem.
'She's been sailing with me for 30 years,' Scott said.
There were 86 boats in 11 classes.
Class winners (One throwout)
505 (6 boats)---Holt Condon/Reeve Dunne, St. Francis YC, 1-2-1-1-1-(3)-1, 7 points. A-Cat (4)---Matt Strube, San Diego, (1)-1-1-1-1-1-1, 6. Coronado 15 (6)—Barrett Sprout, SSC, 1-2-1-1, 5. Cal 20 (9)---Freddie Stevens/Dennis Allison, ABYC, 2-1-(3)-1-1-1-1, 7. Formula 18 (7)---Scott Miller/Patty Miller, Mission Bay YC, 2-3-1-(4)-2-1-2, 11. Finn (5)---Phil Toth, Mooloolaba YC, 1-1-2-1-(4)-3-1, 9. International 14 (8)---Paul Galvez, Dana Point YC, 2-1-3-1-(4)-2-2, 11. Laser Master (11)---Jay Golison (Master), ABYC, (1)-1-1-1-1-1-1, 18. Viper 640 (8)---James Sears/Rachel Ellis, ABYC, 2-1-3-1-(4)-2-2, 11. Lido 14A (13)---Stu Robertson/Sammy Elsharhawy, ABYC, 1-(4)-2-1-2-5-2-2-1, 20. Lido 14B (8)---Michael Eisenberg/Julia Rychlik, Del Rey YC, (2)-2-2-1-1-1-2-1-1, 13.