But it’s hard to deny that Kimball’s talent and experience also had a lot to do with his success after the Grand Rapids man swept the three major sailing regattas that took place in West Michigan this summer.
Kimball, 29, who sails out of the Spring Lake Yacht Club, started the season with a win at the MC Scow Nationals at White Lake. He also took first at the Western Michigan Yachting Association championship at Muskegon, and capped off the trifecta with a win at the Blue Chip Regatta, which is held annually on Spring Lake.
Kimball said he was neck-and-neck with Ohio sailor Ted Keller in two of the regattas, actually trailing Keller heading into the final race at both the Western Michigan and the Blue Chip regattas.
“The last race at the Westerns was a pretty exciting race,” said Kimball, who is on his way to Pewaukee, Wisc., for the U.S. Sailing Champion of Champions regatta this weekend. “He was beating me by a point going into the last race, so if I beat him, I’d win. He was leading most of the race, but I was able to pass him up the last windward leg of the race and beat him by five feet.
“In the Blue Chip, he had a three-point lead going into the final race. I was able to finish second and he got fifth, so we tied, and I beat him in the tiebreaker.”
Kimball said the tiebreaker is the number of first-place finishes in the series of five to seven races that make up the regatta.
Winning all three regattas this summer was a pleasant surprise to Kimball.
“I’ve been racing MC Scows for quite a while,” he said. “I try to race on the weekends locally at the club. Taking first place in all three races, this is the first time that’s ever happened. I’d won the MC Nationals once before, and won Westerns 5-6 times. This was my first Blue Chip win ever. The competition is really good.”
Kimball said that having good equipment — boats and sails — certainly lends itself to being successful, but there’s more to it than that.
“I’m fortunate to have good equipment, and there’s definitely a little bit of luck that always comes into play, but just getting out and sailing, trying to spend as much time on the boat as possible, whether it be racing or sailing to have fun, is important.
“Time on the water is always time well spent.”
Kimball said that the Blue Chip Regatta, which was held this past weekend, typically draws 30-40 boats from across the country. This year, only 10 boats participated. Still, the competition was stiff.
Kimball won the first race of the six-race regatta, then took third in the next two races. He was fifth in the fourth race, first in the fifth and finished off the regatta with a second-place finish for 15 points.
Keller took third, second, first, second, second and fifth, also finishing with 15 points.
Third was Spring Lake Yacht Club’s Andy Molesta, who finished with 19 points. He won the fourth race of the series.
Brett Hatton, also of the SLYC, was fourth with 22 points, followed by Pete Comfort of the Torch Lake Yacht Club with 35 points.
Spring Lake’s Dave Fox was sixth with 36 points.
The Blue Chip Regatta is an event steeped in tradition. It’s considered a Champion of Champions meet because sailors have to qualify to be invited to the competition by having accumulated enough points for placement from other major regattas.