Building breeze for big boats

Dana Paxton reports from the Big Boat Series in San Francisco

Saturday September 14th 2002, Author: Dana Paxton, Location: United States
Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for many of the 109 boats sailing today in the St. Francis Yacht Club's Big Boat Series presented by Rolex. But it was really skill with a healthy dose of luck that paid off for boats fighting the wicked flood tide that characterises San Francisco Bay racing. With a day that began in light, 9-knot breezes, most boats and their tacticians started their day with a plan for consistent sailing. But with the breeze building to 25 knots, working the shifts and playing the tricky flood tide in their boats' favour was the key to winning the tide lottery. Two races were sailed in each of two Americap II and eight one-design classes.

Seamus Wilmot of Alameda, predicts that the boat that plays the shifts and tides the best in the seven-boat J/120 fleet will emerge victorious. "It was tough playing shifts both upwind and downwind today," said Wilmot, who called tactics for fleet leader Chance, owned by Barry Lewis of Atherton. "In the second race, the right side of course was favored and all seven boats went very close to Alcatraz to get relief from the flood tide. That's where the most gains were made. Twist tacked early, we passed them and at a certain point we realized we had to stay ahead of Dayenu." Chance finished second in both races and has six points, with Mr. Magoo owned by Steve Madeira of Menlo Park, in second with 11 points, followed by third-place Dayenu, owned by Don Payan of Hillsborough.

Pendragon 4 owned by John McLaurin of Los Angeles lists as crew Volvo Ocean Race winners (aboard illbruck) Richard Clarke and Mark Christensen. Clarke is a two-time Canadian Rolex Sailor of the Year and Christensen is one of the few people who can say he's won the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race twice, in a row. Pendragon 4 is in second place overall in Americap Class A, one-tenth of a point behind Cita, a Schock 40 owned by Cita Litt of Newport Beach. Today's two races earned Pendragon 4 a pair of fourths, but Christensen isn't satisfied. "I've got to get the boat out in front a little better," he said. "We got buried at the start of the first race and it took us the entire first beat to work our way out of it. We finished about one minute out of first, on corrected time, and we lost it all on that first beat." Pendragon 4 spent two days preparing for the Big Boat Series and Christensen is happy with the boat speed. But it's the tactics that he wants to do better on for tomorrow's two scheduled races. "I made a couple of bad decisions today," said Christensen. "In the second race we couldn't decide which shore to go toward. We picked the wrong side and lost it."

The 1D35 fleet is small, but congenial and competitive. Like the rest of the fleets battling it out here, the tide is the major defining factor to a successful day. For John Wylie of San Diego taking a risk to sail his Tabasco close to the city front rocks didn't pay off as well as he had hoped. "We we charging upwind, all bow to stern and really tight," he said. "Next thing we know, we had run aground a bit. Luckily, it was one of those quick on, quick offs, and we lost maybe 5 seconds total in the soft sand." Tomorrow Tabasco's main competition will be Koininia, owned by Wylie's good friend Doug Ament of San Diego. "Koinina had an awesome race, they did a brilliant job with the tides and did a good job in the first race. They started deep in the fleet, but played the tides so well and did what it takes to win

Preliminary Results: September 13, 2002, Day 2 (Four races)

Top Three per Class Boat name, Boat owner, hometown, race 1, race 2, total points

1D35 Class (7 boats)
1. Koinonia, Doug Ament, San Diego, 6-1-4-1, 12 points
2. Tabasco, John Wylie, San Diego, 1-3-5-3, 12
3. Zsa Zsa, Bill Wright, Larkspur, 2-5-3-2, 12

Beneteau 40.7 (5 boats)
1. Mojo Rising, Ben Oldham, Point Richmond, 1-1-3-1, 6 points
2. Battant, Chris Herron, Tiburon, 2-5-2-2, 11
3. White Dove, Mike Garl, San Carlos, 4-2-1-6, 13

Express 37 (8 boats)
1. Eclipse, Mark Dowdy, San Francisco, Calif., 1-1-3-2, 7 points
2. Golden Moon, Bridge/ Richards, Oakland, Calif., 2-2-2-1, 7
3. Bladerunner, Mick Shlens, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., 3-3-4-3, 13

J/120 (7 boats)
1. Chance, Barry Lewis, Atherton, 1-1-2-2, 6 points
2. Mr. Magoo, Steve Madeira, Menlo Park, 2-3-3-2, 11
3. Dayenu, Don Payan, Hillsborough, 3-2-6-1, 12

Farr 40 (20 boats)
1. Barking Mad, Jim Richardson, Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I., 4-2-1-2, 9 points
2. Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, Los Angeles, 2-5-7-1, 15
3. Crocodile Rock, Alex Germia/Scott Harris, Los Angeles, 5-1-10-4, 20

J105 (33 boats)
1. Good Timin, Phil Perkins/Dave Wilson, San Francisco, 1-3-1-4, 9 points
2. Nantucket Sleigh, Peter Wagner, Atherton, 2-4-4-5, 15
3. Zuni Bear, Bergmann/Bennett, 10-5-2-3, 20

Transpac52 (5 boats)
1. Yassou, Jim Demetriades, Los Angeles, 2-1-2-1, 6 points
2. Alta Vita, Bill Turpin, Los Gatos, 1-2-1-3, 7
3. Victoria 5, Michael Campbell, City of Industry, 4-3-3-2, 12

Santa Cruz 52 (4 boats)
1. Winnetou, Martin Brauns, Los Altos Hills, 2-1-5-1, 9 points
2. Elyxir, Paul Ely, La Selva Beach, 3-2-3-2, 10
3. Morgana, Robert Magoon, San Leandro, 1-4-2-4, 11

Americap II Class A (10 boats)
1. Cita, Cita Litt, Newport Beach, 6-3-1-1, 11 points
2. Pendragon IV, John MacLaurin, Encino, 2-1-4-4, 11.1
3. Swiftsure II, Sy Kleiman, Saratoga, 5-2-7-2, 16

AMERICAP II Class B (10 boats)
1. Copernicus, Bob Garvie, Incline Village, Nevada, 1-1-3-2, 7 points
2. Chance, Paul Kent, Corte Madeira, 3-4-1-3, 11
3. Scorpio, John Siegel, San Francisco, 2-3-2-4, 11.1

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