• Five Pacific Grove sailboat racers compete in Larchmont, NY at the 2014 Shields Class National Championship

    ‘Legends Regatta’ won by PG’s Michael Polkabla with Dick Clark of Carmel taking second

    A five-man (actually four men and one woman) sailboat racing crew from Pacific Grove represented the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club and Saint Francis Yacht Club (of San Francisco) at the 2014 Shields Championship and Legends Regatta on September 10-13.

    The all-Pacific Grove racing team, which sails regularly out of the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club, consisted of Garth Hobson (the boat’s owner); his 23 year-old PG High alumna and UC Irvine graduate daughter Ashley Hobson; 25 year-old PG High alumnus George Feurst; PG High alumnus (1979) and UCSB graduate Michael Polkabla; and current Pacific Grove High senior Austin Book.

    The regattas were sailed in Shields Class one-design sloops for the four days of racing on Long Island Sound out of the Larchmont Yacht Club. A Shields Class yacht is a 30-foot racing sloop that was originally designed in 1962 and first built in 1963, this marking this year’s Championship regatta the 50th Anniversary of the Shields class sailed in its home waters of Larchmont, NY (Fleet #1) where the yachts were first sailed.

    The Pacific Grove team traveled to New York a few days prior to the event to inspect and set-up their chartered (loaner) boat “Tango” that was sailed among 35 mostly east coast competitors from fleets across the US. With them were the team’s sails, sheets (sailing lines), and essential rigging and tools used in winning the local Monterey fleet championship on their boat named “Stillwater” which qualified them for this championship event.

    After recovering from jet lag, excursions to New York City, boat “tuning” practices, and “Rum,” racing began on Wednesday in a special fiftieth class anniversary event called the Legends Regatta. This special one-time event consisted of helmsmen (and women) from the Shield’s class who had won previous National Championships and/or had other remarkable history with the class which in turn, qualified these individuals as “Legends” to compete with each other in a single day three-race series to determine an overall winner. The Pacific Grove team was helmed by previous National Champion winner Michael Polkabla. Another local competitor in the event (being a two-time National Champion himself) was Richard (Dick) Clark of Carmel.

    Racing was fast and furious in this event sailed by 15 boats in moderate wind and seas with first place overall going to Michael Polkabla of Pacific Grove with a 1-1-6 finish and a close second place awarded to Dick Clark of Carmel. Because this is a one-time event (until the Shields Class 100-year Centennial rematch) there is likely no hope of this event replacing the hotly contested “Shoe Game” rivalry between the two neighboring cities of Pacific Grove and Carmel.

    Following this California victory against the mostly east coast competition, the three-day National Championship regatta was sailed by a fleet of 34 boats among fleet champions and competitors from across the United States.

    Also competing in this event from California were Charlotte Benbow with her local Monterey crew. A third crew from the Monterey Peninsula fleet was co-helmed by Eric Anderson and David Brock, with crew members including Eric’s wife Jamie Anderson, David’s wife Rebecca Brock, and Art Sutton.

    After a brief evening celebration, the helm was transferred to 23 year-old Ashley Hobson. The PG crew competed Thursday through Saturday in a total of seven races in conditions ranging from “hot and muggy with very light winds” to “cold conditions with extremely heavy winds and seas.” The Pacific Grove team finished the regatta with a very respectable fifth place overall finish out of 34 boats and in doing so Ashley won the Youngest Skipper award and Best Newcomer award for the championship event.

    Charlotte Benbow and her Monterey crew finished in twelfth place overall and a respectable regatta was sailed and by the combined Monterey Anderson/Brock team.

    Regatta highlights included first place finishes in race 4 by Charlotte Benbow with her Monterey crew and first place in race 5 by Ashley Hobson and her crack racing team from Pacific Grove. Saturday’s two races concluded the Championship regatta with a local Larchmont team led by Collamore (Com) Crocker taking first place in the regatta and second place going to an outstanding (and fast) team from Newport Rhode Island helmed by John Burnham.

    All of the Monterey Peninsula competitors ended the regatta on a high note with a “Big Apple” sized hunger for more competition and looking forward to the Shields Nationals being sailed again in Monterey waters in 2016.

    Race event highlights reported by Michael Polkabla.

    Michael and Ashley

    PG crew takes a first

    sail Close Finishing Legends Regatta with Spinnakers flyin

    Spinnakers flying

    PG Crew: L-R Ashley Hobson, Michael Polkabla, Garth Hobson, George Feurst, and Austin Book rounding a mark in First place at the Shields National Championship Regatta in Larchmont, New York.

    PG Crew: L-R Ashley Hobson, Michael Polkabla, Garth Hobson, George Feurst, and Austin Book rounding a mark in First place at the Shields National Championship Regatta in Larchmont, New York.


    posted to Cedar Street Times on September 17, 2014

    Topics: Front PG News, Sports


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