SAN FRANCISCO—Last year’s top three finishers have returned to San Francisco Bay for the fifth windy, wet and wild 18′ Skiff International Regatta Tuesday through Saturday.
Skippers of those three-man crews range in age from 2005 winner Howard Hamlin, 53, of Long Beach, Calif. and runner-up John Winning, 54, of Australia to Samuel (Shark) Kahn, 17, the latter a clear exception in the tightly knit class dominated by veterans.
This is one of the class’s three major events each year, along with the JJ Giltinan World Trophy Championship in Sydney and the European champion held last June on Lake Garda in Italy. Hamlin, with crew Mike Martin and Trent Barnabas, dominated the latter event with first place in 8 of 11 races and didn’t need to sail the next two. They were fifth in the Giltinan in February.
They’ll be challenged by Winning, Kahn and four other entries, including a team from the United Kingdom’s Royal Lymington Yacht Club led by Peter Burton, with Martin Borrett and Ian Turnbull as crew. Only Borrett has sailed here before, in International 14 regattas in 1989 and 1997.
“It’s spectacular,” he said. “We had a little taste of it [in practice] yesterday but it was only 15 knots.”
Twenty-plus is likely and the reason why the 18s—in any breeze the fastest monohulls on the planet—have given up using their taller masts here.
“We don’t need the big rig here,” said Hamlin. “Everyone’s used it once—and got smashed.”
Martin said, “At Garda we used only the big rigs. At Sydney we use the big rigs about 5 out of 7 days.”
Borrett said, “When we talked yesterday at breakfast I told Pete that we’re tying the big rig to the trailer and it’s not moving this week.”
Nevertheless, they’re here sailing 18s because, Borrett said, “we’re addicted to speed.”
The schedule calls for 10 races over five days starting at 1 p.m., twice around a 1 ½-mile windward-leeward course set for ideal spectator viewing from just inside the Golden Gate Bridge past the Crissy Field staging area and the host St. Francis Yacht Club. The exception will be a later start Friday followed by the annual Bridge to Bridge race when the 18s will mix it up with kite boards and windsurfers.
The British trio has borrowed Hamlin’s extra boat but has been sailing 18s for three years. Barton, 38, won the European Grand Prix series in 2005 and finished fifth in the European Championships won by Hamlin’s team this summer.
Hamlin and Martin also are on individual rolls. Sailing with other crew, Hamlin was second in the 505 Worlds last month and won the International 14 U.S. Nationals at Long Beach a week ago.
Martin won the 505 North Americans in 20-25 knots here last week with seven wins in 11 races.
ENTRIES (10 races, 2 discards):
DeLonghi, Grant Rollerson/Simon Nearn/Dan Wilsdon, Sydney, Australian 18 Footers League.
Pegasus Black, Samuel (Shark) Kahn/Cameron MacDonald/Paul Allen, Honolulu, Waikiki YC.
Pegasus White, Howard Hamlin/Mike Martin/Trent Barnabas, Long Beach, Calif., Newport Harbor YC.
Skiff Sailing Foundation Blue, Patrick Whitmarsh/Kevin Richards/Ben Glass, Alameda, Calif., Monterey Peninsula YC.
Skiff Sailing Foundation White, Chad Freitas/Dan Malpas/Matt Noble, San Francisco, St. Francis YC.
West Marine, Peter Barton/Martin Barrett/Ian Turnbull, United Kingdom, Royal Lymington YC.
Yandoo, John Winning/Andrew Hay/’Geoff Bauchop, Sydney, Aust., Australian 18 Footers League.
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