Seventy-one sailors from seventeen different countries gathered in San Mateo, California for the 13th Annual Sunfish World Championship. Eighteen-year-old John Kostecki of Novato, CA took top honors at the week-long event held August 8-15 at the Coyote Point Yacht Club. Under the Olympic scoring system, Kostecki’s finishes of 3-1-1-3-3-1 gave him 11.40 total points in the six-race, one-throw out series.
Kostecki has been sailing for as long as he can remember. He was the 1981 Sears Cup Champion and the 1982 winner of the US Championship of Champion. He sails everything from Sunfish sailboats to J-24s. When asked how he won the Championship, he said he put a high priority on starting and the first 100 yards. He also kept a keen eye on his closest competitors.
Going into the final race, three Americans, Derrick Fries, Dave Chapin and Kostecki were within range of winning the event. Both Fries and Chapin are former Sunfish World Champions; Fries in 1975 and 1978 and Chapin in 1979 and 1981. Fifteen knot breezes osculating from the west and a slightly port-bias, 1000-foot starting line set the scene for the last race. Kostecki’s strategy was to get out front and stay there. He chose a pin-end start with Fries in the middle of the line and Chapin closer to the pin. Kostecki hit the line at the gun with boat speed and clear air while Chapin got caught in a log jam. Kostecki went left and tacked on the first header crossing Fries by several boat lengths. At the windward mark of the full Olympic course, Kostecki rounded first by 50 yards with Masaru Azuma of Japan in 2nd, Charlie Berry of Springfield, IL in 3rd and Fries in 4th. After untangling himself, Chapin was 8th around the mark. Fries moved past Berry on the first reach while Chapin moved up to 6th. In the meantime, Kostecki was lengthening his lead. By the second windward mark, Kostecki had a minute lead with Fries in second and closing. Chapin hit the windward the second time around and dropped back to 8th again. At the finish, it was Kostecki by 45 seconds with Fries in second and Chapin a distant 11th. Kostecki had won it in grand style with a horizon-job on the final race. Fries from Pontiac, Ml finished second overall with 12.0 total points and Dave Chapin of Springfield, IL was third, using his last race as his throw out with 18.7 total points. Rounding out the top five was Alan Scharfe of Newbury, MA with 61.0 total points in fourth and the 1980 North American Champion Joe Blouin of New Orleans, LA in fifth with 62.0 points. The first foreign sailor was Alex Zimmerman of Lima, Peru in 10th place.
San Mateo is located on the east side of the San Francisco peninsula just ten miles south of the city. Although the South Bay is protected by the land, the west wind whips through a gap in the Pacific Coastal Range at a predictable 15 knots in the morning which builds to 25 to 30 knots by late afternoon. There is little wave action by the lee shore but the shallow water creates some interesting chop.
The Coyote Point Yacht Club in conjunction with the Burlingame Chamber of Commerce were hosts for the international event. The race committee headed by Joe Weathers did a superb job in their first world class regatta. The sailors enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Club members for a truly memorable week.