AC stars get their butts kicked

Report and photos from day one of North Sails Race Week in Long Beach, CA

Saturday June 29th 2002, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
Whatever happens for the rest of the weekend, a number of recreational sailors can take satisfaction in the first day of the 18th North Sails Race Week Friday: they had better days than Paul Cayard and Dennis Conner.

Among 168 entries featuring numerous celebrity sailors, David Voss, Bill Wright and Scott Birnberg were the stars of the day. They lead the only classes that scheduled two races on opening day.

While brisk sea breezes of up to 15 knots, with gusts to 18, took their toll of some of the competition, Voss, from Playa del Rey, Calif., sailed his Schock 35, Piranha, to two first places; Wright, from San Francisco, drove his 1D35, Zsa Zsa, to a first and a second, and Birnberg, a local from Long Beach, scored a second and third with his J/120, Indigo, to lead off that class's North American championship.

Meanwhile, Conner and Cayard could only say that they'd had better days---quite a few.

Conner drove Dale Williams' ILC 46, Wasabi, but as his two Stars & Stripes America's Cup boats sailed onto the scene after another day's workout in local waters, Wasabi's headsail blew out. The San Francisco boat switched to a smaller jib but was able to finished only eighth in the nine-boat PHRF 1 fleet.

The class winner was the regatta's biggest boat, Ed McDowell's Santa Cruz 70 sled, Grand Illusion, which isn't supposed to be at its best around the buoys. But the veteran campaigner showed its transom to a couple of swift, new Transpac 52s---Jim Demetriades' Yassou and Mike Campbell's Victoria - while Lew Beery's 1D48 It's OK slipped into second place on corrected time.

Cayard called tactics on John Kilroy's defending Farr 40 champion, Samba Pa Ti, but had to coax a comeback from 14th and last at the first windward mark to get back to seventh. The Alexandra Geremia/Scott Harris Crocodile Rock, with Robbie Haines as tactician, won the day, followed by Brack Duker's Revolution with Dave Ullman aboard.

Birnberg, trying for his third consecutive North Sails Race Week title, described his simple strategy: "We planned to stay in the top five and hang in there."

He admitted his starts weren't good---first the wrong end of the line, then "somewhere back in the third row"---and he sailed a couple of crew light when they couldn't get off work.

In the second race, Birnberg said, "We were 10th at the windward mark but jibed away from everybody and passed seven boats downwind."

John Staff's Cheetah 30, Wildcat, lost part of her mast in a PHRF 4 collision with Tom and Todd Wheatley's Gator. Staff withdrew from the event.

Oscar Krinsky's 1D48, Chayah, which destroyed four sails in one day in Long Beach Race Week a week ago, continued its run of bad luck. This time the clew tore out of the new main sail before the boat reached the first windward mark.


PHRF 1 (9)---Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), King Harbor YCF (1).
PHRF 2 (11)---Cita (Schock 40), Cita Litt, Newport Harbor YC (1).
PHRF 3 (8)---Pendragon (Davidson 33), David Gray, South Shore YC (1).
PHRF 4 (12)---Defiance (B-32), Scott Taylor, Cabrillo Beach YC (1).
PHRF 5 (14)---Blur (B-25), Aaron and Dixon Hall, Cabrillo Beach YC (1).
FARR 40 (14)---Crocodile Rock, Alexandra Geremia/Scott Harris, Santa Barbara YC/California YC (1).
1D35 (9)---Zsa Zsa, Bill Wright, San Francisco YC (1-2).
J/120 (16)---Indigo, Scott Birnberg, Long Beach YC (2-3).
MELGES 24 (14)---Monsoon, Bruce Ayres, Newport Harbor YC (1).
SCHOCK 35 (10)---Piranha, David Voss, Oceanside YC (1-1).
J/105 (29)---Wings, Dennis and Sharon Case, San Diego YC (1).
J/24 (10)---No racing.
SANTANA 20 (12)---No racing.

Click here for complete results

To see more photos - go to page two...

Paul Cayard is calling tactics for John Kilroy's defending Farr 40 champion Samba Pa Ti .

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