Fog and wind are served up like hors d'oeuvres on San Francisco Bay, but this week has seen too much of the former and too little of the latter to suit a serious sailor's taste.
Nevertheless, hometowner Bryan Lake and Michael Coxon of Australia gulped it down with satisfaction Thursday in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race woven into the 10th annual 18ft Skiff International Regatta hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Lake, a kite boarder, was the first finisher by far among a diverse fleet of kites, 18ft Skiffs, a bunch of sailboarders and even a small catamaran that struggled home last. His time over the 7 1/2-nautical mile course from the Golden Gate past the city to the Bay Bridge was a commendable 17 minutes 56.15 seconds, comfortably ahead of the 18s that had won the race the last three years.
America's Howie Hamlin, New Zealand's Alex Vallings, Australia's Nick Press and Australia's John Winning followed closely in that order. Winning, the week-long leader, won the day's regular 18s race on the windward-leeward course, but fifth in the Ronstan lifted Hamlin from a point behind him to a point ahead after 8 of 10 races. 'We still have two races to go,' Hamlin said. 'We've had some unusual conditions [including] the most fog I can remember ever sailing in here.'
Winning held the Ronstan lead briefly until Coxon and Hamlin slipped by from farther outside on the turn past the city. Coxon, who sat out the first three days of racing with a neck injury, showed up Thursday morning fit to go well before race time. The veteran Trevor Barnabas gladly handed the tiller back to the countryman who last year garnished his regatta triumph with a win in the Bridge to Bridge classic. 'A little time in Napa Valley did a lot of good,' Coxon said.
With a day off Wednesday, Coxon was among 20 sailors who chartered a bus to visit the nearby California wine country. Another familiar face, that of Mike Martin, was aboard Panasonic with skipper Jonathan Whitty. Martin crewed for Hamlin in four of his five wins in this regatta and is now, officially, Director of Umpiring and Rules Administration for America's Cup Race Management. He was just in Cascais, Portugal for the first America's Cup World Series tuneup competition.
The crew lists for the five SSF boats, as updated for Thursday's racing, are below. Standings (Results for 8 races not available at time of this report; results after 6 of 10 races, including one discard; skippers listed first)
1. Yandoo, Australia, John Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Hay, 1-2-3-2-3-(5), 11 points.
2. CST Composites, USA, Howie Hamlin/ Matt Noble/Paul Allen, 2-3-1-(5)-5-1, 12.
3. Thurlow Fisher Lawyers, Australia, Michael Coxon/Aaron Links/Trent Barnabas, 7-1-6-1-(16/OCS)-2, 17.
4. SLAM/Mounts Bay WA, Australia, Grant Rollerson/Justin Healey/Marco Schuermann, (11)-5-5-3-1-4, 18.
5. CT Sailbattens, New Zealand, Alex Vallings/Chris Hiller/Josh McCormack, (6)-6-4-4-2-3, 19.
6. SMEG, Australia, Nick Press/Daniel Phillips/Brant Demis, 3-(7)-2-6-6-6, 23.
7. Maersk Line, Australia, Graham Catley/Nick Catley/Riley Dean, 4-(9)-7-9-4-8, 32.
8. Harken, Australia, Glenn Raphael/Ben Lawrie/Matt McKinlay, 8-4-11-7-(16/OCS)-7, 37.
9. Yamaha, New Zealand, Dave McDiarmid/Andrew Archibald/Chris Burgess, 5-10-9-(11)-8-10, 42.
10. White Lightning, USA, Patrick Whitmarsh/Charlie Smythe/Mark Breen, 10-(12)-10-8-9-9, 46.
11. Panasonic Lumix, Australia, Jonathan Whitty/Mike Martin/James Hozack, 9-8-13-10-7-(16/DNF), 47.
12. O'Canada, USA, David Rasmussen/ John Gray/Trevor Bozina, 12-(14)-12-13-11-11, 59.
13. USA Black, USA, Skip McCormack/Jody McCormack/Polish Mike, 15-13-8-(16/DNF)-10-16/DNF, 62.
14. Death Dealer, USA, Brian Malouf/John Gilmour/Joe Penrod, 13-11-14-12-13-(16/DNF), 63.
15. Love Machine, USA, Chad Freitas/Katie Love/Daniel Roberts, 14-(16/DNF)-16/DNF-16/DNF-12-16/DNF, 74.
Watch daily video highlights produced by Gecko Productions of Australia with expert commentary by Bob Killick here
St Francis Yacht Club and Results click here