by Rich Roberts
Kiteboards, led by Johnny Heineken's record time, celebrated their recent upgrade to an Olympic class in style Friday by sweeping the first seven places in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race.
International 18 Skiff Regatta 2012 Day 4
New Zealand's C-Tech, the first 18 Skiff to finish, claimed the championship in the Nespresso International 18 Skiff Regatta hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Heineken, regarded locally as the best kiter sailor of all, finished the 5.3-nautical mile course from the Golden Gate to the Oakland Bay Bridge in 14 minutes 14 seconds, lopping 2 minutes 1 second off the record set by Brian Lake last year.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's C-Tech team of skipper Alex Vallings, Chris Kitchen and Josh McCormack, continued its domination of the week with the 18s to wrap up the title with two races remaining Saturday---preceding their Bridge to Bridge success with a win in the 18s' warmup race and now counting five wins in eight races overall.
The AC45s competing in the America's Cup World Series here in August and October failed to show, as anticipated, and the 60-foot foiling catamaran l'Hydroptere that has record aspirations started about 10 minutes early and did not finish. C-Tech was the first 18 Skiff in the 18-boat class dominated by Australians and the USA's Howie Hamlin-led teams for the first 11 years, but Hamlin, entering the day in second place, was never a factor. A broken shroud took him out of the first race, and a start delayed by repairs and plagued by three capsizes ruined the Bridge to Bridge race for him. Otherwise, the result made the day for the Kiwis' Graham Catley, although his boat missed the 30-minute deadline for an official finish.
Catley, an Auckland businessman who has been a prior San Francisco competitor and is the lead supporter of the Kiwi campaigns, said, 'This is the first year New Zealand has been competitive, with good equipment and time to develop sailing skills with the 18s.'
Primarily through Catley's efforts and support, New Zealand Catley brought seven teams to San Francisco. Vallings and his placed seventh in this year's JJ Giltinan class championship at Sydney, Australia, after only a few weeks with the tricky boats, 'so this is their first real competition,' Catley said. 'We need to get a benchmark in New Zealand to bring the other boats up to it.'
As for Australians, mid-crew Marcus Ashley-Jones returned after a kidney problem put him in hospital for Days 2 and 3, when he was replaced by Mike Martin, an 18 veteran who is now director of umpiring and rules administration for the America's Cup here, and Bora Golari, a former Moth foiler world champion, who helped to keep team in fifth place through the first three days. Two of the happier competitors were locals Avery Patton and David Krawzsenck. It was latter's first Bridge to Bridge and the former's first finish in three attempts.
'I'm usually getting fished off of Treasure Island,' she said. Their reward was a ride back to St. Francis YC on a committee boat. 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.
The leaders (18 boats; after 8 of 10 races; one discard)
1. C-Tech, Alex Vallings/Chris Kitchen/Josh McCormack, New Zealand, 1-1-3-(6)-1-2-1-1, 10 points.
2. Mounts Bay W.A., Grant Rollerson/Justin Healey/Marco Schurman, Australia, 3-4-6-1-2-(19/DNF)-3-4, 23.
3. Yandoo, John Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Hay, Australia, 5-3-4-5-(19/DNF)-5-2-3, 27.
4. CST Composites, Howard Hamlin/Matt Noble/Matt McKinlay, USA, 4-5-1-3-3-4-(19/DNF)-12, 32.
5. Lumix, Jonathan Witty/James Hozack/ Marcus Ashley-Jones, Australia, 2-2-7-8-7-3-(9)-9, 38
International 18 Skiff Regatta 2012 Day 4