Australians thrive in rough conditions
Photos © Rich Roberts
18ft Skiff International Regatta at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco
After a wild week inflicting its fury on the 13th 18′ Skiff International Regatta, San Francisco Bay got the message and greeted competitors Saturday with a modest 15 knots of summery breeze through the Golden Gate.
“The first two races today were postcard sailing,” said Brett Van Munster, the Australian skipper who with crew Paul Montague and Harry Thurston overcame a few capsizes and difficult competition to edge America’s Howie Hamlin by a single point, 15-16.
“But then that third race was something else,” the Aussie added.
The wind was a comfortable 15 knots with a flood tide and no whitecaps, certainly not capsize conditions, for the first race at noon, when Van Munster led Hamlin by more than a minute over the 6.7 nautical mile, twice-around windward-leeward course.
The second race started similarly, but soon built to 21 knots, knocking ASCC flat and from first to third at the windward mark as Skip McCormack, the local sailor skippering New Zealand’s Events Clothing-sponsored entry, held off Hamlin for the win.
But it was still a two-boat contest between ASCC (Australian Solvents and Chemicals) and Hamlin’s aged Harken/CST entry, which he and his crew of Matt McKinley and Cameron McDonald tweaked and patched up as they went along.
Hamlin said, “We wanted to beat [Van Munster] in the first two races, but he’s twice as fast and he just sailed around us. Matt and Cameron did terrific work keeping things together. We did very well to get second place with a 10-year-old boat and mainsail and a six-year-old jib.”
They were sailing Hamlin’s ‘B’ boat, with a carbonated old mast. His newer ‘A’ boat and sails were delayed in shipment from Italy where he placed third in the European championships in July.
But the older boat was the only one that never capsized all week… until all the racing was done after they won the 10th race.
McDonald said, “We lost a jib clew just after we finished.”
Without a jib, they were left to struggle through an awkward tack in 20-plus knots of crosswind to the beach, which they almost reached before a gust blew them over – their only capsize of the week.
Meanwhile, Van Munster was still struggling ashore after sailing the last downwind leg without a spinnaker, which didn’t prevent his final capsize.
After the ninth next-to-last race, with a second throwout still in the bank, he thought he might already have victory assured and wouldn’t need to sail.
“But we weren’t sure,” he said,” so we sailed.”
But cautiously, placing third to Hamlin’s third win of the week and a second place by the local Only 18 boat skippered by David Liebenberg, who wound up third overall.
“We broke a lot of stuff today, but not enough to make us retire,” Liebenberg said.
Overall Results: (10 races, 2 discards)
1. ASCC, Brett Van Munster/Paul Montague/Harry Thurston, Australian 18 Footers, 1-(9/OCS)-(3)-1-1-3-2-1-3-3, 15pts
2. Harken/CST, Howie Hamlin/Cameron McDonald/Matt McKinlay, Newport Harbor YC, 3-(5)-(4)-2-4-1-1-1-2-1, 16pts
3. Only 18, David Liebenberg/Dan Morris/John Grey, Richmond YC, 7-6-5-4-(10/DNF)-2-(10/DNF)-10/DNF-3-5-2, 37pts
4. Events Clothing, Skip McCormack/Nick Catley/Josh McCormack, Auckland Sailing Club/San Francisco YC, 4-1- 1-(10/DNF)-2-(10/DNF)-10/DNF-1-10/DNF, 39pts
5. Maersk Line, Graham Catley/Tom Peet/Brad Collins, Auckland Sailing Club, 2-2-2-(10/DNF)-3-2-(10/DNC)-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC, 41pts
6. Flytac.com, John Gilmour/Cooper Dressler/Matt Van Rensselaer, Richmond YC, 5-4-7-(10/DNF)-6-(10/DNF)-10/DNF-4-4-10/DNC, 50pts
7. Sparkle Motion, Dan Roberts/James Clappier/Patrick Lewis, Richmond YC, (10/DNF)-7-8-10/DNF-7-10/DNF-10/DNF-5-10/DNF-10/DNC, 67pts
8. Yandoo, Nick Press/Andrew Hay/James Beck, Double Bay 18′, (10/DNC)-(10/DNC), 6-3-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC, 69pts
9. Lightning, Chad Freitas/Dan Brandt/Corey Lynch, Skiff Sailing Foundation, 6-3-(10/DNC)-(10/DNC)-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC-10/DNC, 69pts
By Rich Roberts