Potts leads Southern Yacht Club to Knost Championship

A boat sails Sunday in the Knost Regatta.
A boat sails Sunday in the Knost Regatta. Coast Shots Photography

Skipper Kaity Potts faced a tough task Sunday afternoon if she wanted to steer Southern Yacht Club of New Orleans to its first Knost Regatta championship since 1993.

First, she had to win Sunday’s final race. Additionally, she had to place a boat between her Flying Scot and that of host Pass Christian Yacht Club to pull out the win.

Mission accomplished.

Potts recorded the victory in sixth and final race of the weekend series to lift SYC to a one-point victory over PCYC. SYC amassed 13 points, PCYC 14, Buccaneer Yacht Club 17, Bay-Waveland Yacht Club 17 and Fairhope, Ala. YC 31 for the final score. Due to the bad weather in Louisiana that started Thursday, the field for the all-women’s regatta was not as large as usual.

Meanwhile, Tammy Shelton directed Free Spirit to a pair of victories to win the Knost PHRF title for the big boats. Perfidia was second and USA 98 third.

“It’s pretty exciting to finally win it,’’ SYC team captain Katy Lovell said. “Kaity did a good job of slowing down the Pass so the rest of the fleet to could catch up and we could get a boat in-between.’’

Lovell skippered the first two races of the Knost series. Clerc Cooper skippered races 3 and 4 for SYC while Potts skippered races 5 and 6. Potts was named the women’s college sailor of the year when she sailed for Tufts University in Boston. Lovell and Cooper were All-Americans when they attended the College of Charleston. Crewing for Southern were Jeanne Herman, Miia Newman and Julie DiColo.

Entering Sunday’s two races, there was a three-way tie for first at 10 points between Pass Christian, Southern and Buccaneer of Mobile.

Pass YC had recorded a victory in Saturday’s first race behind skipper Leslie Dane. Four races were sailed Saturday.

Pass Christian’s Helen Charbonnet won the opening race Sunday. It was Charbonnet’s first win as a skipper in the Knost Regatta and gave PCYC a lead heading into the Sunday’s final race. Pass had 11 points while SYC had 12 for the climatic race.

“It was all on the line,’’ Potts said. “We had to have at least one boat between us and Pass Christian. I’ve been in a lot of team racing and match racing. Fortunately, I’m experienced at slowly boats down and doing things like that.

“We got to the windward mark in first but they were right behind us. Around the leeward mark, we saw Pass Christian was right behind us and the other boats were well behind. I knew I would have to be aggressive in slowing them down. I positioned my boat in front of them and to the weather of them to try and slow them down, and fortunately the leg was long enough and it worked. We got Bay-Waveland between us.’’

Pass again pulled ahead of Bay in second place, according to Potts. But B-WYC passed PCYC for second place and Potts finished first. With a Southern win and a second-place finish by B-WYC, the New Orleans sailors were able to celebrate.

“Fortunately, Bay got a little more aggressive on the second half of the run and came by Pass. It was still very stressful and close until the last minute. We finally won the Knost for the first time in many years.”