Brisk winds and fair weather greeted young sailors arriving from across the globe for the 10th William I. Koch Cup and Kiwi Cup sailing competitions held for the first time in the Western United States, and during the centennial year of Sea Scouting.
The Koch Cup is the premiere international Sea Scout sailing race event. Seventy entrants from Brazil, England, Finland, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad, Turkey, cities throughout California and from across the United States matched their sailing skills in two-person teams aboard 14-foot CFJ Class (Flying Juniors) sailboats.
Some of the foreign crews arrived early for the July 22-28 event, staying with Martinez Sea Scouts at their waterfront base in Martinez. They then boarded Sea Scout Ship 72 -- Albatross -- for a tour of the "Mothball Fleet" in Suisun Bay and passage to the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo's Morrow Cove for the five-day racing competition.
The Albatross crew did not compete, but Adam Milson and Parker Smith of the Sea Scout Ship Sea Witch, also based in Martinez, took 12th place overall in the Koch Cup.
Scouts stayed at the maritime academy during the competition. Cup races were open to the most able male and female Sea Scout sailors ages 14-21. Qualifying Scouts lacking the $250 entrance fee were offered a scholarship, according to Joshua Guilliland, assistant regatta chairman.
Months of preparation failed to get racers ready for the challenge of
"A lot of people are not used to sailing on currents like these with 20-knot winds," said Jacob Abrahams of San Francisco Sea Scout Ship Corsair. "You can see where the warmer water (fresh) meets colder water (salt). It can create swells. But they learned to play the currents pretty fast."
The crew of the Newport Beach-based Renegade took home the 2012 Koch Cup after a Friday night awards ceremony featuring Tom Ehman of Oracle Racing, who detailed plans for the 2013 America's Cup sailing race in San Francisco.
The Koch Cup gave local and visiting teens a glance at different perspectives. Still recovering from a 22-hour flight, South African crew members talked with Martinez Scouts about their first impressions.
"Everything looks clean here," Luke Sarour said. "Americans think Africa is full of lions. I haven't seen a lion in four years, and then, only in a zoo or wildlife reserve. Johannesburg is like any other big city."
William James and English crew members Kate Marsden, Barney Price and Michael Sawyer said, "Everything in the U.S. is big. The cars are big, the houses are big, shops are big, the food is big -- everything."
The English teens spent four days checking out San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Mountain View prior to the race.
Other teams stayed with friends or at hostels before or after the official competition. Jenny Norris and her daughter of Christchurch, New Zealand, probably landed the best accommodations, courtesy of San Francisco friends who loaned them a yacht and a car. They anchored in Glen Cove until the competition began.
Like other shore-bound parents in attendance, Norris anxiously watched the daily races where some boats blew over in the wind, but were quickly righted.
"I believe in supporting your kids in whatever they try," Norris said."The friends that she makes are a close bunch. They are good, capable kids."
Incidentally, Australian crew members Jonathan Gough and Riley Berlecky came from the town of Concord, in New South Wales. It was unknown, but perhaps they met Sea Scouts from Concord, Calif.
Guilliland said, "It was a wonderful success."
Sea Scouts are part of the Boy Scouts dedicated to improving good citizenship, boating skills and maintenance, water safety and knowledge of maritime heritage. Outdoor, social and service experiences are also important elements in the Sea Scout program.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-202-9292.