Hasso Plattner and Peter Alarie struggle to stay vertical

Hasso Plattner and Peter Alarie struggle to stay vertical

Cayard interferes with the rabbit

Martin and Nelson the runaway train at the SAP 505 Worlds

Wednesday August 26th 2009, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Good thing the wind calmed down a bit Tuesday or Mike Martin and crew Jeff Nelson - notorious for their heavy weather sailing - would be running away with the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Wait a minute. The Newport Beach, Calif. sailors were every bit as dominant in mom and pop breeze of 8 to 11 knots to start the day as conditions built to 20 by the end of the second race. They led at every mark in both races, sometimes seemingly too far ahead to read the sail numbers of their closest competitors, if they ever bothered to look back.

Their speed has been exceptional, their tactics solid and their boat handling like clockwork. When the wind came up, while others were flopping and flipping in their wake, their teamwork at executing jibes as they skipped over the waves at more than 20 knots was as slick and quick as a pas de deux at the Royal Ballet.

Now, after discarding the 99 points for Race 2 Sunday when their mast broke as they were running a close second to Mike Holt and crew Carl Smit, their tally shows only four points in five races. But they do look back.

"Yeah," Nelson said, "absolutely."

As for Holt and Smit, they're three points behind with a first and four seconds after beating everybody but Martin/Nelson.

Nelson said: "Their worst race was a second, so we don't have much breathing room. They were nipping at our heels for awhile."

Three points is within mathematical reach should the leaders stumble again - but don't count on it. Their wins were by 1 minute 38 seconds and 1:12. Holt/Smith may be keeping Martin/Nelson honest, but they need to pay attention to Australia's three-time world champion, Chris Nicholson with crew Casey Smith, whose (4)-3-3-3-3 line score is also impressive.

Nick Adamson of nearby San Carlos, CA, and crew Steve Bourdow, are fourth with 19 points but facing reality.

"They'll have to screw up or have some problems," Adamson said of the leaders. "But anything can happen."

No racing was scheduled Wednesday, and the regatta will wind up with two races Thursday and one each Friday and Saturday.

There will be one more discard after the eighth race, but even that may not help perennial contender and 1999 winner Howard Hamlin of Long Beach, CA and crew Paul Cayard, whose seventh and 14th places Tuesday left them 28 points back in seventh, behind Germany's Jens Findel and crew Johannes Tellen and Seattle's Dalton Bergan and crew Fritz Lanzinger.

Hamlin/Cayard have already used one of their throwouts by voluntarily rejecting, in a change of heart, the redress they had won after being disqualified in Monday's race for interfering with the Gate Launch boat that follows the Pathfinder race boat, a.k.a. the "rabbit." Then in Tuesday's second race their boat sprang a leak when the gasket in the centerboard failed.

"We had geysers this high in the boat," Hamlin said, holding his hand waist high. "I'm sure it hurt us. We were slow."

Howie Hamlin turns boatbuilder

That morning Cayard had phoned Hamlin to suggest they forfeit the redress.

"That was my first gate start in 30 years," Cayard said. "I went home and read the rules" - specifically, paragraph 11.9 that states "a boat shall not interfere with the Pathfinder . . . [or] the Gate Launch [boat]" - in this case an inflatable tender.

The rule didn't define "interfere," but now, after a pre-race amendment issued Tuesday, it says "a boat shall not make contact with the boats."

Cayard said, "We didn’t even know we hit the thing. One of the guys on it said a piece of my clothing grazed it. I don't know what that could have been. The hull did not make contact."

But, Cayard said, "I figured it all out at 11:30 last night."

He decided the right thing to do was to go with the spirit of the rule. "I called Howie and he agreed." Cayard, a longtime St. Francis YC member, informed race officials of the decision when he arrived at the club.

Later, Pip Pearson, the International 505 Class president from Australia, said the action of Cayard and Hamlin was "one of the most honorable things I've ever seen."

Cayard said, "It's not all about winning. You have to live with yourself."

The leaders

(after 5 of 9 races)
1. Mike Martin/Jeff Nelson, USA, 1-(DNF)-1-1-1, 4 points.
2. Mike Holt/Carl Smit, USA, (2)-1-2-2-2, 7.
3. Chris Nicholson/Casey Smith, Australia, (4)-3-3-3, 12.
4. Nick Adamson/Steve Bourdow, USA, 9-2-(13)-4-4, 19.
5. Jens Findel/Johannes Tellen, Germany, (72)-5-6-15-12, 28.
6. Dalton Bergan/Fritz Lanzinger, USA, 8-8-4-10-(15), 30.
7. Howie Hamlin/Paul Cayard, USA, 5-6-(99-RAF), 7-14, 32.
8. Ryan Cox/Stuart Park, USA, (12)-11-12-6-8, 37.
9. Bruce Mahoney/Paul Allen, USA, (24)-7-7-8-19, 41.
10. Ian Pinnell/Carl Gibbon, Great Britain, 7-14-8-13-(20), 42.

SAP is the naming sponsor and APL is the presenting sponsor. Marine Media Alliance, Drystone Berridge Vineyard Estates, Lindsay Art Glass, North Sails, Ronstan and 505 American Section are supporting sponsors.

Paul Cayard reports:

Before we got going today, Howie and I had to deal with something from yesterday. It was a complicated issue that has to do with Gate Starts. I will try to explain.

To try to make it simple, we were first disqualified by the Race Committee for a rule that prohibits boats from 'interfering' with the 'Rabbit' or the 'Guard Boat'. In a 'Gate Start' one of the racing boats starts at the single starting buoy, at the designated start time, on port tack sailing upwind. A Guard Boat follows about two boatlengths behind. All racing boats have to pass behind the Guard boat in order to start.

Once we came ashore, the race committee notified us we would be disqualified from the race because we made contact with the Guard Boat and therefore "interfered". The contact was apparently a piece of clothing brushing the tube of the guard boat. We did not think we had made contact but in any case, we did not believe we interfered with any part of this operation as we did not cause either of them to alter course or speed. So we requested redress and were reinstated in 6th place which was our finishing position. Then a German team protested us saying that we hit the guard boat 2 feet from the stern. This surely did not happen as we would have stopped dead in the water. But that protest was dismissed before the hearing as the Germans, who started right just to windward of us, never informed us that they were protesting us which is a requirement for a protest to be valid.

The thing that was odd to me was that through it all, no one ever asked if we performed a 360 penalty turn for hitting a mark. Of course we would not have because we did not know we had made contact. So I started to think that the Guard boat was not a mark. I mean the last "Gate Start" I was in was in 1979. Can't really remember and Howie is not a great one for rules. He just likes to go fast... a skiff sailor at heart. He never protests and never goes to the room.

So we were back in and left the club for the night. When I got home, something wasn't sitting right in my stomach. I reread the S.I.'s, Notice of Race, 505 Class Guidelines etc. trying to figure it out. I came to the conclusion that the Guard boat IS a mark and we should have performed a 360 penalty turn.

This issue never got vetted as the Germans protest was dismissed. Still, Howie and I agreed this morning that we had fouled. So we withdrew from Race number 3 when we got down to the club.

With that behind us, we headed out to the double header (two races). In the first one was good, finishing 7th or so. We were deep again at the top mark, probably 25th, and we ground our way back. In the second one, we got to the top mark in our usual 25th and started to grind people. Somewhere after the first lap, the gasket that seals the center board case from the water at the bottom of the hull, got inverted and we had a mini Fountain of Youth going into our boat for the remainder of the race. The fountain was beautiful but it is slow as there is a lot of drag associated. We then broke our port pole launcher so that hurt as well. Anyway we finished about 12th.

Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson got two bullets and not by just a little. 2 minutes over second place was about the average lead they had. These guys are in another league in 20+ knot of wind.

Lay day tomorrow. That is good as I need to go to Longs and get another pallet of Advil and four massages.

It is a blast out there. The boats just rip and I so glad I am revisiting this great class!
Teeing it up again on Thursday through Saturday.

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