18′ Skiffs: Happy birthday, Kiwi – you’re in first place

Published on September 12th, 2013

San Francisco, CA (September 11, 2013) – Just when sailors think they’ve figured out how to race on San Francisco Bay, they get a day when “you use boat speed more than brains.”

So said New Zealand’s David McDermaid, a birthday boy and the new leader after 6 of 10 races of the Nespresso 18′ Skiff International Regatta for the Mark Foy Trophy.

There was no fog under a gray overcast, but the fearsome breeze that had organizers redoing the schedule just last weekend pooped out to about 10 knots and flat water Wednesday. Not a whitecap in sight, but vigorous competition.

McDermaid, with crew Andrew Archibald and Mark Overington sailing Yamaha, won the first and third races and finished second to defending champion Alex Vallings, sailing C-Tech, in the other. After tossing their worst results—a fifth and a third, respectively—the two New Zealanders share the lead above a pack of Australia’s Grant Rollerson and Nick Press and the USA’s Howard Hamlin contending for third place.

McDermaid, skipper of Yamaha, celebrated his 30th birthday by soaring into first place on a tiebreaker with Vallings. Each has seven points but McDermaid finished ahead (1-2) in the most recent race. McDermaid, with wins by two and nine seconds, was 1-2-1 Wednesday; Vallings was 3-1-2. Each has won 3 of the 6 races.

Hmmm…Kiwis seem to be getting their way on the bay these last few days.

“We just had boat speed,” McDermaid said, ‘but it was a very tricky day.”

With a flood tide in force, some of the 22 boats played the left side upwind, others the right, but McDiarmid’s concern was holding off Vallings downwind, noting that “he’s really fast downwind.”

His best tactic was to stay in front—jibing when his rival jibed to hold him just enough to win by two and nine seconds.

Vallings said it was light but “really gusty” and like “a four-way mach race,” with Press driving Yandoo for absentee veteran John (Woody) Winning, and Hamlin’s CST Composites also in the mix.

Some of the competitors were less concerned about the conditions than several of the large classic boats in the America’s Cup Super Yacht Regatta that wandered into the 18s’ course.

McDermaid said, “They came straight through our bottom mark. We had to decide whether to try to cross one of them or go the other way. We had it by about one meter. I looked up and saw both of his bow anchors just over the tip of our spreader.”

As for lack of wind, Hamlin, a six-time winner of the regatta, spoke from experience: “We haven’t had one day like this in 12 years.”

The series continues Thursday with a wide variety of classes joining the 18s in the traditional and mostly downwind 5.3-nautical mile Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge, following two America’s Cup races at mid-day. The 18s’ last two races are scheduled to start Friday at noon.

Wednesday’s weather: Wind 11k W; high temp. 68F.
Thursday’s forecast: Wind 12k west; high temp. 66F.

St. Francis YC manages the skiff event, independent of the AC competition, while the event is being hosted in conjunction with the AC Open as part of the Summer of Sailing, taking place at the America’s Cup Village on Marina Green.

While the JJ Giltinan regatta run annually in Sydney since 1938 is regarded as the class’s world championship, the Mark Foy has gained global status entering its fifth year of spreading the skiff spirit to various world locations.

Nespresso began their association with the sport of sailing as co-sponsor of Team Alinghi for the 32nd America’s Cup campaign between 2004-2007, as well as being the Official Coffee to the event.  In 2010, Nespresso and Wally, the world leader in yachting innovation, launched the Nespresso Cup, an international regatta exclusively for the Wally Class in Portofino, Italy, bringing together some of the world’s most respected world-class sailors, to deliver one of the most aesthetically pleasing sailing regattas.  America’s Cup sailors Loick Peyron, Paul Cayard, Francesco De Angelis, Jochen Schuemann were the Nespresso Cup Ambassadors, adding their own individual style to this unique event.

Nespresso is now Proud Sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, challenger for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. More information on Nespresso on www.nespresso.com

The leaders
(after 6 of 10 races; one discard after 5, two after 9).

1. Yamaha, David McDiarmid, New Zealand, 1-(5)-2-1-2-1, 7 points.
2. C-Tech, Alex Vallings, New Zealand, 2-1-1-(3)-1-2, 7.
3. Fisher & Paykel, Grant Rollerson, Australia, 4-2-4-4-4-(6), 18.
4. Yandoo, Nick Press, Australia, 3-3-(8)-7-3-4, 20.
5. CST Composites, Howard Hamlin, USA, (5)-4-3-5-5-3, 20.

Complete results, previous reports, Notice of Race, schedule and other information

High-res photo gallery 
Christophe Favreau videos
Video 1
Video 2
St. Francis Yacht Club

Robbie Dean

Rich Roberts

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