Harken Derm

18’ Skiffs – Jump start turns lead from Aussie to Kiwi

Published on August 26th, 2014

San Francisco, CA (August 25, 2014) – Runaway wins on the first day of the 13th annual 18′ Skiff International Regatta Monday may have resembled the lopsided racing in the 34th America’s Cup on these same tricky waters a year ago, but this time the tide turned at the starting line.

After sailing away in the first of two 6.7-nautical mile, two-lap windward-leeward races in the week-long event hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, Brett Van Munster’s ASCC-sponsored entry from Australia placed second to Skip McCormack’s Event Clothing from New Zealand, or thought he had until he hit the beach. Then he learned that he had been called for crossing the line early and not returning to start properly.

Van Munster disagreed, saying, “We were going for the pin end of the line. We didn’t pass the pin until three seconds after the gun.” One of his two crew, Paul Montague, agreed, noting, “We were a boat length behind.”

Rivals on some of the other seven boats had mixed views, but veteran Graham Catley of New Zealand, who inherited first place overall with a pair of second places, thought ASCC may not have heard his recall hailed from the other end of the line. “We heard the call,” Catley said. “That’s why we went back and why we were so far behind for most of the second race. They called ‘ASCC’.”

Catley’s son Nick, 26, who is crewing for McCormack’s Events Clothing, which won the second race, said, “We were closer to the line than they were.”

By the end of the week it may not matter. Boats may discard their worst result after five races and two results after nine races. Meanwhile, the senior Catley, a mature campaigner who will turn 60 next month, said his secret was “conservatism. We just planned to keep it safe today.”

Skip McCormack, by the way, is reversing the America’s Cup trend as skipper of a New Zealand boat. He’s an American who lives in nearby Richmond, CA. “We’re representing New Zealand well,” he said, smiling.

Howie Hamlin of Long Beach, CA, a six-time winner of this event, stands third at 3-5/8 after recovering from a broken jib halyard on his 10-year-old backup boat. His best boat, which he sailed to third place in the 18′ European Championships earlier this month, was last reported passing through Houston, TX on its shipment home. He hopes to have it by Thursday. The older boat, he said, “is not ready for San Francisco.”

The boats launch off the beach bordering Crissy Field west of the host St. Francis Yacht Club. The schedule calls for a total of 10 races through Saturday, two per day starting at 1 p.m., except a 4 o’clock start Thursday preceding the traditional 5.3-nautical mile Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race when they’ll join a variety of boats and kiteboards for a 5:30 start under the Golden Gate. Wednesday is designated as a reserve day.

The leaders (after 2 of 10 races):
1. Maersk Line, Graham Catley/Tom Peet/Brad Collins, Auckland Sailing Club, 2-2, 4 points.
2. Events Clothing, Skip McCormack/Nick Catley/Josh McCormack, Auckland Sailing Club/San Francisco YC, 4-1, 5.
3. CST, Howie Hamlin/Cameron McDonald/Matt McKinlay, Newport Harbor YC, 3-5, 8.

Event Website
Class Information

Report by Event Media


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