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Lido 14 Class Championship Regatta : Cummings Holds Off Raab, Wins

Although sailboat racing isn’t much of a spectator sport, the handful of fans who gathered near the finish line Friday on Mission Bay saw an exciting climax to the last race in the Lido 14 Class Championship Regatta.

One skipper, Charlie Cummings, held on to the lead he had built in four earlier races while another skipper, Chris Raab, tried frantically to disrupt Cummings’ effort.

Raab, in second place entering the regatta’s final day, Friday, would win the Lido championship if he finished first and Cummings placed lower than fifth in the last race. Cummings was in third place and heading for the last mark before the finish line when Raab, who was well in front, headed back in a desperate attempt to cut off Cummings.

But Cummings fended off Raab’s attack, leaving Raab with one option--to defend his dwindling lead. This he did, edging Chris Collins in a tacking duel down the stretch to finish first. However, Cummings held on to third place, a showing good enough to earn him his second straight Lido title.

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The five-race series began Wednesday at the Mission Bay Yacht Club. There were 47 two-person crews entered in the regatta, which began with races in the women’s, junior and novice divisions Aug. 17 and 18.

Cummings, a Long Beach resident who sails for the Huntington Harbor Yacht Club, said he was cautious in Friday’s race, not wanting to make any mistakes that would drop him from the top five.

“We had everything going our way,” Cummings said. “There was a lot of wind, which we’re good in, and it was a long course, which gave us plenty of time to catch up if we had to.”

Friday’s course crisscrossed the east-west length of West Mission Bay twice to take advantage of a 12- to 15- knot wind from the northwest. Cummings and his crewman of four years, Tom Devlin, fluctuated between seventh and ninth place throughout much of the race before moving up to third near the end.

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Cummings, 29, said he was especially pleased to win this year’s championship because Raab, the titlist in 1979 and 1980, was in the field.

“Last year, it was a little bit tainted,” Cummings said, “because the last two champions, Jack Franco and Chris Raab, weren’t there. This year, Chris was here and I beat him head to head. Now he’s won twice and I’ve won twice.”

Cummings wasn’t able to celebrate right away. While in other sports a new champion might be mobbed by adoring fans and carried off to a victory party, the two-time Lido 14 titlist had to join Devlin in more mundane tasks--hauling their boat out of the water, cleaning it and storing it.

An awards dinner also was scheduled for Friday night at a nearby restaurant.

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Cummings, who also races Snipes, has been involved with sailing competitions since 1966. Such extensive experience may have come in handy when Raab tried to cut him off at the end of Friday’s race.

“Chris (Raab) came back to try to force us off course,” Cummings said, “and we just aimed right at him. He got out of the way. If we’d gone to either side of him, we would have been in trouble. As soon as we got around that last mark, there wasn’t much he could do about us.”

Raab, 26, a two-time collegiate All-American who also belongs to the Huntington Harbour Yacht Club, said the large lead he had virtually from the start handicapped his effort to slow Cummings.

“We got so far ahead, what else could we do?” asked Raab, whose crewman was David Swain. “On the one hand, we had to slow up the guys in second and third enough so they wouldn’t catch us, then we had to go back to try to get Charlie. I’m not bummed. Second place is OK.”

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Finishing third was Mark Gaudio of the Balboa Bay club in Newport Beach, followed by Collins, who represents the King Harbor (Redondo Beach) club. The top finisher from the Mission Bay club was Hal Brown II, in fifth place.

Another local man, Kent Foster, was third entering the last race but his boat suffered a broken mast early in the race. He repaired the break and finished the race--in last place--to wind up eighth in the final standings.

Three other national Lido 14 championships also were awarded earlier in the week. Two representatives of the Mission Bay Yacht Club won--Debbie Krebs, in the women’s division, and Robert Brown, in the junior division. Kevin Ivey of the Alamitos Bay club took the novice bracket crown.


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