Sometimes you battle the competition, sometimes the elements, a distinction Australia's Seve Jarvin found between winning the JJ Giltinan Regatta for the world championship in Sydney earlier this year and the seventh annual 18' Skiff International Regatta hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club this week.
'The Worlds were a lot more tactical,' Jarvin said after defeating defending champion Howie Hamlin's team by three points, 12 to 15. 'This was more survival.'
That's the way it is when the test of an 18-foot Skiff in brisk breeze is like riding a bicycle on a tightrope in a gale. In 10 races over five days none of the 11 boats started and finished every race, a thought that weighed heavily on the minds of Jarvin and crew Sam Newton and Tom Clout---all 22 years old but learning fast---when they launched onto the bay for the last two races Saturday sharing first place with California veterans Hamlin and crew Mike Martin and Paul Allen---formidable opponents that had won the last three of these events and four of six overall.
But, on one of the cooler and foggier days of a foggy week, the issue was settled quickly when Gotta Love It won the first race to mathematically clinch the title, with its second throwout still in the bank.
Matthew Searle's Active Air had a hefty lead until capsizing halfway down the second and last downwind leg of the 1 3/4-nautical mile windward-leeward course. Hamlin finished third behind Grant Rollerson's Slam.
Gotta Love It, pushing hard earlier, had its worst day of the week Friday when it capsized twice in the buoy race and again in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race. The young Aussies sailed more conservatively Saturday as the wind built from a moderate 15 knots to as high as 25 through the early afternoon.
Newton said, 'We talked a lot about what was going on. We had some problems with the rudder. That's why we were taking it easier.'
But they were noticeably throttling down in the second race, allowing their red spinnaker to flap in the breeze, then dousing it altogether rather than challenge the heavy chop of the upwind ebb tide.
'We just kept the speed down,' Clout said, 'although we were itching to go all out.'
As Jarvin said, 'You usually end up in the top three if you stay upright.'
After Active Air flipped its way out of the lead again in the second race, Hamlin took over and was cruising to an uncontested win until capsizing on his last tack for the finish line.
'That was a wild one,' Allen said. 'My trapeze adjuster got stuck [in his buckle eye]. It wouldn't slide through and I couldn't get to the other side [of the boat].'
But they got the boat upright within a minute and still finished about 100 yards ahead of Gotta Love It. It was their only buoy race win of the week, although they will count their overall victory in Friday's Bridge to Bridge as their highlight. Aside from their mast breaking in Race 4 Wednesday, they had no finish worse than third.
'Great fun,' Hamlin said, 'big wind, lots of lumps. It was really good racing against [Gotta Love It].' Final standings (10 races; two discards) 1.
Gotta Love It, Seve Jarvin/Sam Newton/Tom Clout, Sydney, Australia, 1-1-1-1-4-1-(12/DNF)-(5)-1-2, 12 points. 2.
Harken 1, Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin/Paul Allen, Long Beach, Calif., 2-2-2-(12/DNF)-2-(3)-2-1-3-1, 15. 3.
SLAM, Grant Rollerson/Matt Noble/David Mann, Perth, Australia, 5-(9)-3-2-3-4-1-(12/DNF)-2-6, 26. 4.
Active Air, Matthew Searle/ Dan Wilsdon/Archie Massey, Sydney, (6)-3-6-6-(12/DNF)-2-4-2-5-4, 32. 5.
Kinder Care Home Nursing, Brett Van Munster/Paul Montague/Ayden Mezies, Sydney, 4-4-4-3-1-(12/DNS)-(12/DNF)-6-8-12/DNF, 42. 6.
Yandoo, John Winning/Andrew Hay/David Gibson, Sydney, 3-5-5-4- (12/DNF)-(12/DNS)-12/DNF-12/DNF-4-3, 48. 7.
Panasonic, Jonathan Whitty/Tom Anderson/John Herman Winning, Sydney, 7-7-9-5-6-(12/DNS)-5-3-7-12/DNF, 49. 8.
Harken 2, Joey Pasquali/Chad Freitas/Rory Giffen, Santa Cruz, Calif., 8-6-8-7-7-5-3-(12/DNF)-(12/DNF)-12/DNS-12/DNS, 56. 9.
Cabot Cheese, Patrick Whitmarsh/Danny Cayard/Joe Penrod, San Francisco, 9-8-7-8-5-6-(12/DNF)-(12/DNF)-9-7, 59. 10.
Natural Blues, Dan Brandt/Cooper Dressler/Pike Harris, San Francisco, (12/DNF)-10-(12/DNF)-9-12/DNS-12/DNF-12/DNF-4-6-5, 70. 11.
Skiffsailing.org., Jonny Goldsberry/Jay Scott/Andy Casey, Alameda, Calif., (12/DNF)-(12/DNF)-12/DNF-12/DNF-12/DNF-12/DNS-12/DNF-12/DNF-12/DNF-12/DNS, 96. Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race follow-up
Kite boarder Chip Wasson: beaten only by an 18’ Skiff in the Bridge to Bridge race Friday - Rich Roberts?nid=47828
Led by the unprecedented 18 Skiff win by Howie Hamlin with crew Mike Martin and Paul Allen in Friday's 11th annual race, six 18s finished among the top 16 in the 5 1/2-nautical mile downwind classic, which has been dominated by kite boards in recent years.
In fact, kiter Chip Wasson, 43, of Berkeley, the winner in 2002 and 2007, finished second, only 37 seconds behind Hamlin, whose winning time was 17 minutes 52.25 seconds. The record is 16:23 by Micah Buzanis, a windsurfer, in 2003.
Other 18s finishing were Matthew Searle's Active Air, fifth in 17:53:47; Jonathan Whitty's Panasonic, eighth in 17:54:20; Dan Brandt's Natural Blues, ninth in 17:56:12; Seve Jarvin's Gotta Love It, 12th in 17:57:44, and Brett Van Munster's Kinder Caring, 16th in 17:58:24.
Besides the 18s, there were 25 kite boards and eight windsurfers. Despite strong following winds, a record was unlikely because of an opposing ebb tide.
Hamlin's name will be engraved on a perpetual trophy displayed at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
St. Francis Yacht Club www.stfyc.com