The first rule of sailboat racing is "read the Sailing Instructions," because the boring details will tell important little things like don't just sail from upwind to downwind but go through a midcourse gate, too, if required.
New Zealand's Alex Vallings read them before the Nespresso 18ft Skiff International Regatta for the Mark Foy Trophy started today and picked up where he left off in last year's runaway win with a second and two first places in the first of ten races running through until Friday.
"Some of those boats didn't go through the mark," Vallings noted.
One was six-time winner Howard Hamlin, who was running second in the first race when, his bowman Paul Allen said, "[The boat] Yamaha yelled at us, 'Hey, you didn't go through the gate.' "
By the time they went back to correct their error, they were in sixth place and finished fifth on an otherwise solid day of 5-4-3 good for fourth place among 22 boats, behind Vallings, David McDiamid's Yamaha from New Zealand and Grant Rollerson's Fisher & Paykel from Australia.
Hamlin said: "We were so focused on where we wanted to go that we forgot about it. That was a definite shift in morale."
Today the wind hit 22 knots, but it was in tune with a flood tide that made for a smooth surface. Nevertheless, there were capsizes aplenty - including one by C-Tech just past the final finish line.
Worse off was the local yellow boat, American Youth Sailing Force, skippered by Mikey Radziejowski, that spent most of the afternoon drifting down the course on its side or upside down. The 18s are a learning experience.
Rollerson had no problems, describing the day as "bloody good fun out there. It was awesome." And he also pointed out: "Our best race was the first race. We were OCS [over the start line early] and had to go back, but we still got fourth."
Otherwise, Hamlin said, despite a persistent fog, accompanied by groaning horns from afar, blocking traditional views of the Golden Gate Bridge: "It was a perfect day" - much better than the late afternoon carnage experienced on practice day Saturday just getting boats launched off the temporary ramp.
The biggest problem was a small fleet of foiling Moths zipping around the course like dragonflies, but a couple of hundred spectators enjoyed them, too, especially sitting free in the America's Cup tiered seating on Marina Green.
Worth noting: after a policeman told them before the first race that they'd have to leave the benches, another authority pulled official strings to have then readmitted to a limited section. His name: an Australian named Iain Murray, the America's Cup regatta director and a multiple 18-foot skiff world champion.
The skiffs' revised schedule, brought on by unusually extreme late afternoon wind and water conditions, now calls for racing at noon on the America's Cup off-days with three races Wednesday and the last two of 10 races Friday, with no racing on the weekend. An exception will be two races late Thursday after the AC72s are finished---one at 4:30 p.m. and the traditional and mostly downwind 5.3-nautical mile Bridge to Bridge race at 5:30 from the Golden Gate to the Bay bridge, open to a wide array of entries.
The time change helped.
"Perfect," Hamlin said. "It can't get any better."
St Francis YC manages the skiff event, independent of the AC competition, while the event is being hosted in conjunction with the AC Open as part of the Summer of Sailing, taking place at the America's Cup Village on Marina Green.
While the JJ Giltinan regatta run annually in Sydney since 1938 is regarded as the class's world championship, the Mark Foy has gained global status entering its fifth year of spreading the skiff spirit to various world locations.
Nespresso began their association with the sport of sailing as co-sponsor of Team Alinghi for the 32nd America’s Cup campaign between 2004-2007, as well as being the Official Coffee to the event. In 2010, Nespresso and Wally, the world leader in yachting innovation, launched the Nespresso Cup, an international regatta exclusively for the Wally Class in Portofino, Italy, bringing together some of the world’s most respected world-class sailors, to deliver one of the most aesthetically pleasing sailing regattas. America’s Cup sailors Loick Peyron, Paul Cayard, Francesco De Angelis, Jochen Schuemann were the Nespresso Cup Ambassadors, adding their own individual style to this unique event.
Nespresso is now Proud Sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, challenger for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. More information on Nespresso on www.nespresso.com
Full results below