Newport Beach Indy “Under Sail”

By John Drayton

Sat/Sun March 3-4 – W.D. Schock Memorial Regatta (NHYC, Harbor 20’s), ,


About forty Harbor 20 sailors enjoyed big fleet racing and summer-like conditions in last weekend’s W. D. Schock Memorial Regatta.

As they’ve been doing in recent years, Bill and Diane Menninger showed their complete mastery of the fickle winds of Newport Harbor, tallying just seven points in six races in the competitive “A” fleet.  Kurt Wiese was runner-up in the A fleet.

In the 18 boat “B” fleet, George Drayton used solid starts, good boatspeed and conservative tactics to eke out the win the “B” fleet, finishing just one point ahead of another class stalwart Tom Corkett.(Sr).  Like the Menninger family in the A fleet, the B fleet winners were also family affair as both Drayton and Corkett sailed with their sons at this year’s event.  Full racing results are available at .

W. D. “Bill” Schock was the founder of W.D. Schock Corp, and Schock boats, a local boat builder best known for the Lido 14, Lehman 12, Santana 20, Schock 35 and Harbor 20 classes, among many others.  W.D. Schock Corp. was run by the Schock family from the 1940’s until just last year when the company was sold.

My father George and I had long planned to sail together in Harbor 20’s at this year’s Schock Regatta, one of the only two day events on the Harbor 20 calendar.

My parents are the original owner of Harbor 20 #5, “Whim.”  Family lore is that my mother put a deposit in for a new H20 back in 1997 without a lot of forethought or discussion with my father (hence the boat’s name).

We had done our homework gearing up for this year’s Schock Regatta.  Whim had just had her bottom redone by Basin Marine the week before.  We also had brand new sails that had been delivered late last fall.  If nothing else, by sailing together we knew that Whim would be set up well and be ready for another summer racing season.  And just in case we also our secret weapon standing by – my mother Phyllis had come out to watch us from the comfort and safety of a Duffy (just in case she needed to intervene and straighten us out).

We got out over an hour before the first race started last Saturday.  One of the quirks about a Harbor 20 is that it’s really critical to get a new jib set just right, and this can take quite a bit of tinkering.  I probably made half a dozen trips to the bow to readjust the jib height, and then to make sure there was just the right amount of luff tension at the front of the sail.

When the racing started, my Dad and I talked about our starting strategies before each race.  With short starting lines and eighteen boats in our fleet, each start was crowded and challenging.  Our key strategy was to set a target point that we wanted to pass through about 30-45 seconds ahead of each starting gun (e.g. “This start we want to be on starboard tack passing fifty feet behind the RC boat at 45 seconds…”).  Like a good actor, Dad hit “his mark” each start exactly as we’d planned out.  Even with the work we’d done preparing for this race, it wouldn’t have been worth much if we hadn’t gotten off the line clean in all six races.

Once we got out on the race course, we quickly learned that we had plenty of boatspeed (nothing better than a new bottom and new sails).  Upwind Dad focused on sailing the boat fast, and I was able to really watch the course and help with calling tactics, both key advantages in these light, fluky conditions.  We managed to get to the first mark in each race within the top 3-4 boats, but all the races were close with lots of good sailors around us all the time.

At the end of the weekend, we had sailed just well enough to eke out a one point win over Tom Corkett (Sr), who ironically was also sailing the event with his son Tom (Jr).  It might not have been as close if I hadn’t botched a couple calls sailing downwind (never jibe out of the breeze…).  I don’t get to sail with my father too much, but this one was fun.


Medical Emergencies on the Race Course

We happened to be right next to the race committee last Saturday at the Schock Regatta when a skipper sailed over and shouted, “Hey! We have a medical emergency on one of the boats out here…”

Fortunately in this case, this incident turned out to not be a critical emergency, and the sailor involved reported that he was OK and sailed home without further assistance.  But we were close enough to what was happening; it was interesting to observe how the Race Committee and Harbor Patrol responded to this issue.

First of all, Scott Mason, the race officer in this incident, is quite experienced and he took good rational steps to respond to the incident.  He immediately postponed racing and called for assistance from the Harbor Patrol on VHF Channel 16.  The Harbor Patrol was on the scene within 2-3 minutes.

Even as Scott was coordinating with the Harbor Patrol, the RC also managed to simultaneously notify the club hosting the event by cell phone, and they had their staff standing-by to provide additional support.  As Scott said later, you really don’t have an option to not respond to this type of issue.

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