LONG BEACH, Calif.—Affirming the credo that no lead is ever too big, Shark Kahn and crew Paul Allen had to win Tuesday’s race twice to pull to within one point of Team Pegasus teammates Howard Hamlin and Euan McNicol after three of seven races in the International 14 Class World Championship hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.
Kahn/Allen led Hamlin/McNicol by about a quarter-mile, and Hamlin/McNicol led everybody else by nearly that margin, until early on the last downwind leg when—wait, let them tell it.
“We did a major cartwheel,” Allen said.
Kahn: “We were just sailing along trying to be conservative when a pretty innocent wave came up in front of us. We went straight into it . . . a perfect cartwheel.”
As the boat pitched forward and went from 18 knots to a dead stop as quickly as you can say a four-letter word, they both wound up on the headstay and then in the water. By the time they leveraged the skiff upright, Hamlin/McNicol had flown past to lead by 50 yards at the last leeward mark, where the next race began with the former leaders in full attack mode.
Rather than follow their opponents, they tacked away, drawing Hamlin/McNicol into a tacking duel seldom seen in this class.
“We tried to cover them,” McNicol said, “but unfortunately in the last tack they did a good job and rolled us.”
Kahn and Allen won by about two boat lengths. At 6-3 1/2 and 170 pounds and 6-0, 190, respectively, they figured that in the day’s prevailing breeze of 15 knots they had an edge over Hamlin (5-9, 153) and McNicol (5-10, 180).
“We’re a little bigger, so we tacked on their lee bow and just sailed a little higher until we were ahead,” Allen said.
Now Hamlin and McNicol have seven points to Kahn and Allen’s eight, leaving proud papa Philippe Kahn’s skiff team with about half as many points as anyone else. Could the final outcome be settled by wind conditions the rest of the week?
Hamlin said, “We’re very happy with second today. We’re not gonna beat ‘em in that sort of breeze. We have to think in terms of the conditions. The lighter the better.”
The wind was down from Monday’s 22 knots but the carnage continued. Late in the race principal race officer Mark Townsend noted over the race channel, “There seems to be a scattering of upside-down boats around the course.”
Twenty-five of the remaining 68 competitors did not start Tuesday, and among those who did there was a very wide gap. The leaders, including Great Britain’s Michael Lennon and crew Jon Blackburn in third place Tuesday and overall, and Monday’s winners, defending champion Lindsay Irwin and crew Andrew Perry of Australia, now in fourth place, lapped much of the fleet while sailing 14-nautical mile race—2 ½ times around a windward-leeward course with one reach leg.
Those are the only boats will all single digit finishes so far.
Some boats kept their spinnakers packed but none were seen cautiously opting for 270-degree “chicken” jibes instead of risking normal jibes, as several did Monday.
For the second day in a row, following Sunday’s 10 disqualifications, there were no boats over early (OCS) at the start.
Racing continues daily through Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
STANDINGS (71 boats; after 3 of 7 races):
1. Howard Hamlin/Euan McNicol, Long Beach, 1-4-2, 7 points.
2. Samuel (Shark) Kahn/Paul Allen, Aptos, Calif., 5-2-1, 8.
3. Michael Lennon/Jon Blackburn, Great Britain, 4-8-3, 15.
4. Lindsay Irwin/Andrew Penny, Australia, 9-1-9, 19.
5. Bruce Edwards/John Vincze, Watsonville, Calif., 12-10-8, 30.
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