US Match Racing Championship to Nate Hollerbach
Story and photos by Kimball Livingston Posted October 5, 2014
Taking a deep breath after winning his second US Match Racing Championship, Nathan Hollerbach allowed, “Going five races deep against Dave Dellenbaugh in the Final was stressful, I won’t kid you. This was the most competitive match racing I’ve ever had.”
With courses set along the San Francisco cityfront, under the windows of host St. Francis Yacht Club, the windward-leeward legs were either with or against currents that topped two knots in all three days of racing. Ebb currents were especially taxing because weather mark roundings compressed the distance between boats, and the counter-current extended time on the leg. “Racing downwind against the current was just exhausting,” Hollerbach said. “In that, you have to stay calm and not be your own worst enemy when you see the other guy catch a puff. I swear, this took a few years off my life.”
As high points skipper after two round robins, Hollerbach had his choice of opponents for the SemiFinals. He took local Russ Silvestri (“We knew he was fast; he knows the place and he knows the boats”) and quickly fell behind, 1-2, in a first-to-three contest. He had to come back from that along with his team of Taylor Canfield, Mike Rehe and Maggie Shea. He did, and they did. “They were tough,” Hollerbach said. Then in the Finals the Hollerbach team fell behind 1-2 to Dellenbaugh, who was one race win away from what would have been his fourth championship title, 30 years after winning his first.
That was not to be, but Dellenbaugh called this, “Perhaps the best day of match racing I’ve ever had. Something like 90 percent of the time, the boats were a length apart or less.”
October being a transition time in the San Francisco Bay seabreeze—and with a high pressure system driving offshore flow over the region—there were delays waiting for wind on Friday and Saturday, but superb conditions for playing the game when the time came. Often that meant 9-10 knots over flat water, in matched J/22s. On Sunday, the fog and the breeze were already in at sun-up, and it was game on.
Through the Round Robins, much of the tightest racing was the Battle of the Daves, Dave Dellenbaugh versus Dave Perry, both of Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, CT. Is it something in the water?
In the Petit-Finals, Silvestri, representing the host club, went 2-1 to win against Perry, four times the US Match Racing Champion. A Dellenbaugh win would have tied him, so the outcome was his consolation.
Only a few years ago the St. Francis Yacht Club made a commitment to build a fleet of boats for match racing and team racing. Yes, it’s a big “ka-ching” in the pocketbook, but the payoffs are huge.
Fog edged the course for the final morning of racing, and put on a show in the evening.