From left, Richard Swann's Cygnet, David Gonzalez' Three Niner and Jim Sminchak's it prepare their spinnaker hoists on the offset leg.
 

From left, Richard Swann's Cygnet, David Gonzalez' Three Niner and Jim Sminchak's it prepare their spinnaker hoists on the offset leg.

Kahn senior leads

Rich Roberts reports from day one of the Bell Mumm 30 World championships in Toronto

Wednesday September 22nd 2004, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
Last year Samuel Kahn, then age 14, stunned the sport when he sailed a Melges 24 to the class world championship on his first try. Tuesday, four inches taller at 6ft 2in but still too young to own a driver's license, he finished third and first before stumbling to 17th in the third race on the first day of the Bell Mumm 30 World Championship - his first day racing after sailing it only three days in practice.

Do you think . . . ? "I'm kind of surprised," he said. "I didn't think we'd be doing so well."
Then someone handed him a score sheet of the day's results. "Cool," he said. "Dad's leading." That would be Philippe Kahn, the California and Hawaii-based software developer whose steady 5-3-5 string earned him a one-point lead over one of the local hopes, Fred Sherratt, sailing Steadfast for the host Royal Canadian Yacht Club, and two points over Tom Ritter's Tramp, which won the opening race.

Shark Kahn, in fourth place eight points back, said, "My dad's leading, so I can't take it easy on him anymore."

Eight more races are scheduled over the next three days at the western end of Lake Ontario. Winds Tuesday were moderate slipping to light and shifting 30 degrees through the afternoon. The 21 boats from four countries raced a 1.6-nautical mile windward-leeward course, twice around.

"It was a tricky day," said Stu Bannatyne, an America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran who is calling tactics for Philippe Kahn. "When you saw a trend it really paid to push it that way."

Shark Kahn's tactician is Richard Clarke, a three-time Olympian for Canada who grew up here and sailed with Bannatyne in the last Volvo Ocean Race on illbruck. Other recognisable names aboard were Brian Janney and Brian Lee, who sailed with Clarke and Kahn on his Melges crew, and Mark Golsch and Mark (Crusty) Christensen.

Clarke teased his skipper, "He just drove the boat well, did what we said and concentrated."

Philippe Kahn's pitman, Tony Rankin, said his skipper didn't much talk about his son during the racing. "He might have said, 'He's doing pretty well'," Rankin said, "but it's a pretty quiet boat."

Richard Swann's Cygnet jumped up to fifth place by winning the last race Tuesday. "I owe it all to my tactician [Mark Ivey]," he said, slapping the native Californian on the shoulder. "We did a good job of playing the sides and got lucky with some wind shifts."

They beat Deneen Demourkas' sixth-place Groovederci by 1½ boat lengths. "We were the first boat to gybe down the last run," Ivey said. "It was one of those do or die moments. Then we defended the inside [to the finish]."

Ritter, who settled into a pair of sevenths after winning the first race, noted a mellow mood on the first day. "People were being very gracious and considerate out there," he said. "I didn't hear any yelling or swearing. I let a couple of port [tack] boats cross us and was shown the same favour once or twice."

Some - including Shark Kahn in the last race - were obliged to do penalty turns for routine infractions, but no protests were filed at the end of the day. Ritter doesn't expect it to last. "We're all showing the love early because the hate's coming soon enough," he said.

Standings (after 3 of 11 races):

1. Pegasus 591, Philippe Kahn, Honolulu, 5-3-5, 13 points.
2. Steadfast, Fred Sheratt, Toronto, 8-2-4, 14.
3. Tramp, Tom Ritter, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., 1-7-7, 15.
4. Pegasus 20, Samuel Kahn, Honolulu, 3-1-17, 21.
5. Cygnet, Richard Swann, Fairfield, Conn., 13-8-1, 22.
6. Groovederci, Deneen Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Calif., 4-18-2, 24.
7. Team Intermac, Dan Cheresh, Holland, Mich., 6-10-9, 25.
8. Foreign Affair, Richard Perini, Sydney, Australia, 2-12-13, 27.
9. Champosa, Jonathan McDonagh, Minneapolis, Minn., 20-6-3, 29.
10. USA 65, David Pyles, Easton, Md., 7-16-6, 29.
11. Notorious, Kevin Brown, Toronto, 9-912, 30.
12. it, Jim Sminchak, Euclid, Ohio,11-4-16, 31.
13. Calvi, Carlo Alberini, Pesaro, Italy, 16-5-11, 32.
14. Three Niner, David Gonzalez, Lambertville, Mich., 12-15-10, 37.
15. TeamBOLD, Nelson Stephenson, Southport, Conn., 15-11-14, 40.
16. Dark'n Stormy, Kevin Young, Novelty, Ohio, 10-14-19, 43.
17. War Pony, Art Guerrera, Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 19-10-8, 47.
18. Team Traffic, Philip Werheim, USA, 14-13-21, 48.
19. Surprise, David Irish, Harbour Springs, Mich., 18-17-15, 50.
20. Hammer, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., 17-19-18, 54.
21. Wildthing, Jeff Fogarty, Fonthill, Ontario, 21-21-20, 62.

Bell, Canada's national leader in communications provides connectivity to residential and business customers through wired and wireless voice and data communications, local and long distance phone services, high speed and wireless Internet access, IP-broadband services, e-business solutions and satellite television services. Bell Canada is wholly owned by BCE Inc.

Joining Bell in support of the event are contributing sponsors Champagne Mumm, CHUM Limited, Lewmar, McMillan Binch LLP, Mount Gay Rum, North Sails, Stella Artois and Sorgentone.

More photos on the following pagesThe Bell Mumm 30 Worlds fleet sails toward downtown Toronto. The 1,900-foot CN Tower and SkyDome stadium are at left.

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