Photo: Rich Roberts

Early lead for Winning Junior

18ft Skiff International Regatta starts

Sunday August 22nd 2010, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States

Observing the sailing rivalry between the Winnings, father and son, on opening day of the ninth annual 18ft Skiff International Regatta, one could conclude it's intense, but it doesn’t stop there.

John Snr - or, as he prefers, Woody, 58 - has a conventional and successful household appliance business in Australia, while John Jr., 24, or Herman, as he prefers - recently was recognised Down Under as 'online retailer of the year', selling similar white goods on the Internet instead of in stores. "The same as my dad - except a newer way," he explains.

Well, Herman, with veterans Peter Harris and Euan McNicol as crew, also showed his dad and everyone else the way by winning the first two of 10 races, although his elder was not too far behind in third and second place, with defending champion Howie Hamlin of Long Beach, Calif. (2-4) another point back in third among 13 entries.

As an arriving high-pressure system turned the weather up from chilling to merely refreshing, the wind was only 15 knots - modest for San Francisco Bay - and the gloomy forecast for Monday was for sunshine and a high temperature of 78 degrees F. as the local summer set in following a cooler than usual season.

But the sailing was close, with few flips. Even the rookie all-woman team stayed upright, although skipper Mallory McCollum said, "We didn't finish either race, but it's still a learning process for us. We just tried to stay out of the way. We had a great time … and we didn't flip."

Even Australia's Michael Coxon and his all-star crew of Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas with multiple JJ Giltinan world championships among them couldn't say that. Their hard luck was to capsize while running third in the first race, finishing eighth before recovering with a third place in the second race.

Sailing a 1 1/2-mile windward-leeward course fronting the host St. Francis Yacht Club between the Golden Gate Bridge and the city front, Herman Winning stole the first race at the gun by boldly crossing the fleet of a dozen other boats on no-rights-at-all port tack. The pin (left) end of the line was favored by just a few feet, but the point was to gain a straight shot to the best wind on the right side of the course, while everyone else had to tack when they could to get there.

It also helped that the rivals were less than aggressive in their approach to the start line.

"You want to be on port tack," McNicol said, "and the fleet was generous."

The win was a runaway, while Hamlin overtook Woody Winning with a starboard vs. port cross a boat length from the upwind finish to seize second place in a beep-beep signal by the horn.

Herman Winning said, "We were conservative when we could be," covering the competition. And by the way, Herman is only John Jr.'s nickname. His dad explained, "I gave that to him when he was 2 years old. He kind of waddled when he walked, like Herman Munster."

In the second race Woody repeated Herman's tactic by crossing the fleet on port tack, although he couldn't hold off the kid for long. The race was scheduled for three laps, but as the one-hour time limit approached it was cut short to two with a downwind finish.

Racing is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. daily, except Wednesday when the 18s will start at 5 to precede the Bridge to Bridge race for a mixed fleet 18s, sailboards and kite boards.

Current leaders (13 boats; after 2 of 10 races)

1. Appliances Online, Herman Winning/Peter Harris/Euan McNicol, Australia, 1-1, 2 points.
2. Yandoo, John (Woody) Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Hay, Australia, 3-2, 5.
3. CST Composites, Howard Hamlin/Matt Noble/Fritz Lanzinger, USA, 2-4, 6.
4. CT Sailbattens, CT Sailbattens, Alex Vallings/Chris Kitchen/Josh McCormack, New Zealand, 4-5, 9.
5. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Michael Coxon/Aaron Links/Trevor Barnabas, Australia, 8-3, 11.
6. Panasonic, Jonathan Whitty/James Hozack/Tom Anderson, Australia, 7-6, 13.
7. JF Hellebrand, Phil Airey/Murray England/Sam Tretheway, New Zealand, 6-7, 13.

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