HJORTH, 7-1, came in to Saturday's racing with a guaranteed spot for the finals. HAYES appeared to be in great shape for the second spot at 5-3, but Katy LOVELL of New Orleans, Louisiana, along with Jessica LORD of Sausalito, California were right behind, both at 4-4.
Indeed, it came down to LOVELL and HAYES who were tied at the end of ten flights. Both had beaten each other once before in the regatta, but because HAYES had won the most recent match between the two, she earned the tie-break to enter the finals.
The first race of the three-race final started with HAYES establishing an advantage with aggressive but effective boat handling and tactics. Right before the starting horn, HAYES "pinned" HJORTH against the committee boat and sailed away. However, HJORTH battled back and won with about a two boat length lead.
In race two, it was HAYES once again winning the start. This time, she led HJORTH around the course the entire time. However, in a heart-stopping moment, the clew on the halyard popped open and dumped the spinnaker in the water. HAYES' bow person, Tara THOMAS, was fast to act and the spinnaker was back up in a matter of seconds and the team went on to tie the series 1-1. "We work better under a ton of pressure and when that happened, it went nuts. Everybody jumped in the right place at the right time. We had our trimmer up on the foredeck and everyone did awesome."
Stacie McLEAN, HJORTH's tactician commented on today's racing and the near miss by HAYES' crew. "It was tough racing in the light air, I hate racing in that stuff. We worked really hard, but I'm glad we didn't win when the halyard dropped. I wouldn't have wanted to win that way."
HJORTH was extremely happy in her first match race championship win, "It was wonderful and the competition was great. It's been a really long haul and winning in match racing makes it that much better."
In a trophy presentation, Long Beach Mayor, Beverly O'NEILL presented HJORTH with a beautiful crystal trophy and stated, "I've been doing this job for twelve years and I'm happy that I was able to be a part of this wonderful women's event."
Russell COUTTS the most successful America's Cup skipper surprised HJORTH and personally congratulated her on her win. He is in-town to sail in the Transpacific Yacht Race aboard Morning Glory, a MaxZ 86, starting tomorrow.
Others in attendance were the CEO of presenting sponsor St. Mary Medical Center Chris DiCicco, and sisters Gerard and Gertrude from hospital with Sister Nora Christina visiting from St. Bernadine's in San Bernardino. St. Mary has indicated they plan to continue their support of the Mayor's Cup.