Despite a mild start to the second day of the Big Boat Series presented by Rolex, racing was anything but ordinary yesterday for the majority of the fleet in San Francisco.
Somewhat typical September weather of gentle breezes and fog greeted the 101 boats on San Francisco Bay at the late morning start of the first race, but by afternoon's second race, conditions had built to 20-plus knots, giving many of the competitors in the 101-boat fleet the ride of their lives.
"Today was by far the most exciting inshore racing we've ever done,"
said Ken READ (Newport, R.I.), the four-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year who is sailing as tactician aboard Makoto Uematsu's Esmeralda. "The wind speed was 27 knots and the boat was sailing 23 knots downwind. We were totally in control, but it takes a team this good to push the boat and it's a real credit to them that we were going as fast as we were."
As the owner, and driver, of this brand new, Farr-designed boat, Uematsu-san (as he is called using the preferred formal style of address in Japan) summed up the feeling of surfing a 50-foot boat downwind. "The fastest I have ever gone on a boat is 20 knots,"
he said with huge grin. "And that was driving my powerboat."
Esmeralda won both of today's races and leads the nine-boat class, four points ahead of Karl KWOK'S Beau Geste (Hong Kong, China).
In the nine-boat J/120 class, Mr. Magoo, owned by Stephen MADEIRA (Menlo Park, Calif.) saw its lead slip away in the first race when the main halyard 'stretched' and, in effect, decreased the boat's speed. By the second race, Madeira, who draws inspiration by the cartoon figure of an unkempt man who succeeds despite all the hurdles in life, remained positive in today's challenging conditions of the second race. "Actually, the first leg was nice, not outrageous,"
he said. "We weren't fast downwind, but we managed to pound back upwind every time."
Mark VARNES' (San Rafael, Calif.) Valkyrie is tied with Mark BOWMAN'S (Portola Valley, Calif.) Jolly Mon for second place.
Standings in IRC A class remained the same in the seven-boat class. Nicholas LYKIARDOPULO'S (Athens, Greece) Kerr 55 AERA won both races. Robert YOUNGJOHNS'S (Woodside, Calif.) DK46 Zephyra is in second, with John MACLAURIN'S (Los Angeles, Calif.) Pendragon 4 in third.
The 31-boat J/105 class revelled in the extreme conditions with Tim RUSSELLS'S (Novato, Calif.) Aquavit turning in solid third and second-place finishes to remain in the lead. Close calls in the middle of the pack, including some spectacular momentary broaches due to equipment malfunctions and wind gusts above 25 knots, delighted the onshore spectators. Good Timin' owned by Chris, JOHN and Phil PERKINS remain in second place overall, one point out of the top spot.
Among the other shake-ups in the fleet, the Farr 40 class leader is Fred & Steve Howe's (San Diego, Calif.) Warpath, which scored a third and second-place to overtake Slingshot, owned by Chuck PARISH (Hillsborough, Calif.), now in second, and Jim RICHARDSON'S (Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I.) Barking Mad, which dropped to third overall.
Mike GARL (San Carlos, Calif.) continued to dominate the Beneteau 40.7 clas with his White Dove, winning both races and extending his overall points lead on second-place White Fang, owned by Mark HOWE (Richmond, Calif.).
The Express 37 class leader is Golden MOON, owned by Kame Richards/Bill Bridge (Alameda, Calif.), while in the Santa Cruz 52 class, Martin Brauns (Los Altos Hills, Calif. )Winnetou is tied on points with Tom Sanborn's (Oakland, Calif.) City Lights.
John Siegel (San Francisco) leads the 16-boat IRC B class with his Wylie 42 Scorpio.
Two races are planned for Saturday, with one final race planned for Sunday. The Rolex Prizegiving Ceremony will follow the conclusion of racing where six historic Perpetual Trophies will be awarded, in addition to a Rolex timepiece to each trophy winner.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.