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24 September 2004, 09:46 am
Family Feud Turns Fleet Inside Out
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© Rich Roberts

Mumm 30 World Championship

The only race Thursday in the Bell Mumm 30 World Championship almost didn't happen, and Philippe KAHN almost wished it hadn't.
But there it was: his own son fouled him, he protested and the standings went inside out going into the fourth and final day today. The new leader, replacing 15-year-old Samuel (Shark) KAHN, is Fred SHERRATT, a local sailor representing the host Royal Canadian Yacht Club, who finished third.

Nelson STEPHENSON, the class president from Southport, Conn., sailed TeamBOLD to its first win of the week, two boat lengths in front of Australia's Richard PERINI on Foreign Affair.

The younger Kahn, who led by six points after the first two days, flamed out after the incident at the first windward mark when he and his father, sailing Pegasus 20 and Pegasus 591, were fighting for the lead. After doing a double penalty turn---a "720" in racing jargon---he rejoined the parade in seventh, briefly appeared to be making a comeback but went all the wrong ways as the wind died on the last downwind drift and straggled in 18th, beating only two boats.

Principal race officer Mike MILNER hoped to sail four races Friday to complete the 11-race schedule. The event rules say none can start after 5 o'clock, so Milner moved the day's starting time up an hour to 10:30 a.m.

Ironically, Thursday's race didn't start until 5:34 p.m. after four general recalls following a day of card-playing and lawn bowling before Milner, two miles out on Lake Ontario, decided there was finally enough wind to race-not more than 6 or 7 knots but just enough to race twice around a one-mile windward-leeward course.

Sherratt, sailing Steadfast, has 36 points. Tom RITTER'S Tramp from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., slipped into second place (44), followed by the Shark (45), Philippe Kahn (47) and Perini (49).

The course of the regatta turned as Shark KAHN approached the first windward mark on port tack as his father came in on starboard, slightly behind but with the right of way. Instead of crossing in front or ducking behind, Shark tacked on the other Pegasus' lee bow and forced his father to luff up to avoid a collision.

Shark's tactician, Richard CLARKE, a veteran Finn and big boat sailor from Toronto, blamed himself for suggesting the fatal move.

"That's about the stupidest thing I could have done," he said.

And it put Philippe KAHN on the spot. Neither he nor his son had ever protested the other while racing Melges 24s against each other in recent years.

"So much for people who say we team-race," Philippe said as darkness descended on the docks. "If it costs him the Worlds, it costs him."

A nephew, Brian Lee, also is a member of the crew.

"It broke my concentration on the run," Philippe said, still in emotional agony. "But what dad and uncle couldn't do it? It may be a loss for Shark and Brian, but it's a lesson in life."

Shark understood. "It proves we're not on the same team," he said. "I wasn't surprised. He had every right to protest us. I fouled him."

Stephenson won the race on the last run by playing the middle of the course while most boats tried one side or the other.

"It doesn't work very often, but [tactician] Anthony [Katoun] called a good tactical race," Stephenson said. "Everybody on the boat contributed. I just steered."

Sherratt has sailed a steady regatta with no wins but only one double-digit finish. Tactician Scott Collinson said, "We don't usually race this time of day, unless it's beer can [races] in the harbour. We tried to focus where the pressure was, not play the angles."

Earlier, the only wave was the local heat wave attributed to a broad high-pressure area across the northeast that smothered the breeze and threatened to break temperature records for the first week of autumn at the western end of Lake Ontario.

Thursday's high was 28 degrees C. (82.4 F.), down a bit from Wednesday. Friday's forecast was cautiously promising that the class's eighth world title would be settled on the water: 8-10 knots from the south.

Appropriately, with the weather foremost in everyone's mind, the day was dedicated to supporting sponsor North Sails, which is providing daily forecast for the sailors.

While waiting out the shoreside postponement, the sailors played cards and were introduced to lawn bowling, without some of the refinements.

"I'm not sure we were dressed properly," one said. "Aren't you supposed to wear all white?"

Racing concludes today and full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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