After four of 10 races in the 10th annual 18ft Skiff International Regatta, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, all of the first, second and third place finishes in the 15-boat fleet have been collected by the top four competitors. But don't assume they're in total control.
The two skippers with three of the wins, Trevor Barnabas on Thurlow Fisher Lawyers from Australia and Howie Hamlin on CST Composites of the USA, aren't immune to the unstable characteristics of the craft they're sailing, which must be comforting to the stragglers. Each won one of the two races Monday, and each flipped once in the other races.
'That's what makes them fun to sail,' said Hamlin (2-3-1-5), who has won the JJ Giltinan regatta that is recognized as the class's world championship.
Barnabas (7-1-6-1) is filling in on the tiller for the injured skipper, Michael Coxon, who won this event last year, and it must have been nice to have a five-time winner of the Giltinan regatta on hand standing by to step up.
All of that leaves another veteran, John (Woody) Winning, cruising quietly (1-2-3-2) and holding onto a tight lead, three points ahead of Hamlin and seven on Barnabas, with the first discards due to kick in after the fifth race Tuesday. Nick Press of Australia, sailing Smeg is in fourth place with a 3-7-2-6 line.
All the elements were positive Monday. The wind piped up to 18 knots, the sun came out and a flood tide pushed the skiffs downwind with the breeze, rather than creating a collision course between the flows.
Barnabas, with his son Trent and Aaron Links as crew, led at the first mark of the first race but went right toward the beach downwind while everyone else went left out into the bay. When they converged off Alcatraz, Hamlin held the leverage for the lead, and any hopes Barnabas had vanished on the next run when his boat flipped as he tried to jibe through the midway gate.
'That was just me,' Barnabas said, absolving his crew. 'I got caught up in the middle of the boat … couldn't get through.'
Barnabas recovered from 12th place to finish sixth. Hamlin was home free, but his turn would come. The five-time winner of this event was struggling to pick off boats from back in the pack when his new boat went down trying to tack for the windward mark---about 150 meters in front of an incoming Matson container ship coming through the Golden Gate Bridge. 'I just dropped the tiller extension,' Hamlin said.
They recovered quickly but the flip left them with their worst finish so far---fifth, which really ain't bad---and in second place overall.
After all, it can happen to anybody sailing an 18ft Skiff, and usually does.
Competition continues through Friday, with Wednesday off. There will be two races a day, including the Bridge to Bridge classic late Thursday afternoon. Standings (after 4 of 10 races; 2 discards; skippers listed first)
1. Yandoo, Australia, John Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Hay, 1-2-3-2, 8 points.
2. CST Composites, USA, Howie Hamlin/ Matt Noble/Paul Allen, 2-3-1-5, 11.
3. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Trevor Barnabas/Aaron Links/Trent Barnabas, 7-1-6-1, 15.
4. SMEG, Australia. Nick Press/Daniel Phillips/Brant Demis, 3-7-2-6, 18.
5. CT Sailbattens, Alex Vallings/Chris Hiller/Josh McCormack, 6-6-4-4, 20.
6. SLAM, Australia, Grant Rollerson/Justin Healey/Marco Schuermann, 11-5-5-3, 22.
7. Maersk Line, Australia, Graham Catley/Nick Catley/Riley Dean, 4-9-7-9, 29.
8. Harken, Australia, Glenn Raphael/Ben Lawrie/Matt McKinlay, 8-4-11-7, 30.
9. Yamaha, New Zealand, Dave McDiarmid/Andrew Archibald/Chris Burgess, 5-10-9-11, 35.
10. Panasonic Lumix, Australia, Jonathan Whitty/James Hozack/Phillip Beuner, 9-8-13-10, 40.
11. White Lightning, Patrick Whitmarsh/Mark Breen/Charlie Smythe, 10-12-10-8, 40.
12. Death Dealer, USA, Brian Malouf/John Gilmour/Luke Lawrence, 13-11-14-12, 50.
13. O'Canada, USA, John Ladha/Daniel Inkpen/Trevor Bozina, 12-14-12-13, 51, 26.
14. USA Black, Skip McCormack/Jody McCormack/Polish Mike, 15-13-8-16/DNF, 52.
15. Love Machine, Chad Freitas/Katie Love/Daniel Roberts, 14-16/DNF-16/DNF-16/DNF, 62.
St Francis Yacht Club website