Point Loma yachtsman Andy LaDow is far from complacent about his chances of retaining the champion title in the Etchells Division of the three-day Yukon/GMC National Offshore One-Design races this week.
The Etchell class is one of the top international classes of keel boats. They are 30 feet in length and weigh only 3,200 lbs. The regatta on march 19-21 is a regional event that will include many San Diego boats but even spectators with powerful binoculars are unlikely to see much of the action from Cabrillo National Monument.
"It whould be more difficult to win this year," said LaDow speaking from the offices of Irving Hughes, the real estate brokerage where he is Senior Vice President. "Although I'm well-known as winning a lot on a local level, now that I've won this high-profile regatta last year there will be a target on my back."
Only last weekend LaDow and his crew won the Etchells Mid-winners Regatta, coming back from third place on Saturday to win both the Sunday races by a significant margin. "We whipped them real good," he said of the rest of the 40 contending crews.
LaDow is confident that his crew will continue to sail at the top level in terms of speed, and that it will have the mental stamina to make it through the whole regatta. he said he expects the race to be very competitive because a lot of San Diego-based professional sailors who race Etchells around the world will not pass up the opportunity to race them where they can.
The Etchell fleet in San Diego is very strong. It also attracts a lot of the top names internationally. A lot of big-name professionals such as Dennis Connor, Peter Isler, Bruce Nelson are expected to participate.
LaDow said, "Some of the big name sailors who maybe forgot about me last year are going to say, 'Hey, wait a minute! Let's not let LaDow go by ignored.'"
Somewhere between 40 and 50 boats from the Etchell class will be in the event. Twenty to 25 of these will be from San Diego and the rest will mostly be from other West-Coast locations such as San Francisco, Seattle and Long Beach. Maybe four or five boats will be from the East Coast.
"Fortunately it will be a large fleet," LaDow said. "So, certainly early on, everybody's just going to be trying to race against the fleet as opposed to just individuals."
"I'm not over-confident. I'm going into the regatta with the attitude that I went in with last year," he said. "What wins a series like that is consistency. What matters is that you get good starts and I'm confident that our boat is prepared, our sails are in good shape and we will be competitive with the top boats from a speed standpoint."
Etchells sail with a crew of three: a skipper, a middle man, and a bow man. "I have a great crew," he said.