Christian Seidel and his teammates on the J/24 Wharf Rat had no expectations of winning their division at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in San Diego. Hopeful, yes, but having finished 10th overall the previous year, says Seidel, they would have been happy with a place in the top-five. And that’s how the scenario was shaping on the final morning when the sailors headed out under gray skies and a light southwest wind. Wharf Rat’s first finish of the day was a fifth in the 13-boat fleet, enough to keep them knocking at the door. But when the top-two boats dragged each other to the middle of the fleet in a match race in the next race, team Wharf Rat vaulted into contention with one final race to go. And what did they do? They won the race that counted most, in convincing fashion, to finish the regatta with a 2-point lead over Susan Taylor and her teammates on Take Five. Off the starting line in that final race, Seidel and his teammates (with Harry Dursch helming) were able to break free of a pin-end pile up and speed off to the favored left side of the racecourse. First around the weather mark, all that was left to do was keep the hard-charging fleet behind them. “The plan was to start clear and get left, and I guess it worked,” said Seidel. “We were fast upwind and just killed it with boatspeed. But to be honest, the only reason we were able to win was that the two boats that were tied for first took themselves out. That’s sailboat racing; sometimes you do the right things and win a race and sometimes you can just take yourself out of it.”

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