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The Harbor Report: Harbor 20 championships still growing strong

August 22, 2013|By Len Bose

As the summer comes to its unwelcome end, the water temperature begins to rise as it always seems to this time of year.

This occurs not because of the sun, but rather the approach of the Harbor 20 Fleet 1 Championships on Sept. 28 and 29 in Newport Harbor. For me to obtain a better reading on this phenomena, I pulled aside class president Peter Haynes for a quick interview during Sunday's Caribbean Beach Party at the Lido Isle Yacht Club.

This is an end-of-summer party for Fleet 1, which is completing its 15th year of existence. Standing at the club, looking down onto the marina and seeing the 36 boats in attendance, one is amazed how this fleet continues to grow.

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This is where Peter and his wife Debra Haynes enter the picture to the great fortune of the fleet back in June of 2006. Debra and Peter were considering the purchase of a sailboat and had gone out to view the boat on its mooring. At that same time, a number of Harbor 20s started to appear for an afternoon race.

Peter looked at Debra and said, "That's what we should be doing." One month later, they purchased Spirit, boat number 201. The following year, Peter was asked to join Fleet 1's board of directors for which he subsequently became fleet captain and is now the class president.

In the early years of the fleet, people were into enjoying the boats and weren't paying close attention to the sailing rules. As the fleet grew, it became obvious to Peter that playing "bumper boats," when boats run into each other, was not that much fun and it was expensive to repair the boats.

Peter then came up with an idea to improve the behavior and the skills of the fleet by holding the following seminars: "Understanding the racing rules of sailing," "boat handling and sail trim," and "racing tactics."

"Over the last five years, we have completed 23 seminars with 540 people attending," he said.

At this point, there are 140 Harbor 20s in Newport Harbor with about 45 active racing members. I asked Peter how the fleet has continued to grow.

"The fleet has started C-class for beginning sailors to compete and learn how to race. We have a time-consuming points system, monitored by our web editor Nik Froehlich, that allows members to qualify to race in A fleet."

To stay in A fleet, members must win a trophy in one of the high point series within a year. In my opinion the well-attended B fleet is one of the biggest factors in keeping the class strong. Peter explained the other contributing factors.

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