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Pacific Yankee learned why you don’t fuck around with John Kostecki in a pre-start match race today when they threw away a three-point lead over Pinta going into the final race of the 56-boat Melges 20 Worlds, ultimately losing by 7 to the Michael Illbruck-helmed boat.  Watch Illbruck/Kostecki/Michetti manhandle Drew Freides/Morgan Larson/Charlie Smythe in the start above (with commentary by the inimitable Mauro Melandri).

This makes (we think) Federico Michetti the first man to own World Championships in all three Melges sportboats. We’ll be talking with Federico soon ab0ut his accomplishment and the imminent arrival of the Melges 40 for the SA Podcast soon…

You can head over to Livestream to watch the other race clips from Scarlino and the live prizegiving, which will air in an hour or two.  Emanuele Savoini took the Corinthian crown.

 

August 28th, 2016

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Race Report

bridgebridge37 Adrenalin fueled craft participated in the 18th running of the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race. Kiteboards and Windsurfers had the northern end of the ¾ mile wide start line, while the Open class, which included the Mod 70 and Marstrom 32, started on the less desirable southern end of the line. Conspicuously missing were the 18 foot skiffs that couldn’t make this years’ race due to a schedule conflict.

Conditions were excellent for the 5.8 nautical mile down winder from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge. A southwesterly breeze of 18 knots and a favorable 2.5 knot flood tide made the sailing angle to the Bay Bridge ideal. The flat water, flood tide allowed racers to push their crafts hard down the entire race course. The early lead was taken by the lead pack of foiling kite boarders and they never were challenged by any of the other classes.

A new course record of 10:32 shattered the previous record of 12:00 and was set by visiting Italian foil boarder Rikki Leccese. 1st-5th places were held by foiling kiteboards, 6th place was Tom Siebel’s Mod 70. The foiling kite boards continue to dominate the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge with highly refined hydro-foils and high aspect race kites. Average speed over the race course by Rikki was an amazing 33 knots! – Alan Prussia.

 

August 27th, 2016

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Nothing funny to racers when it comes to a picture like this.  Click for the story.

 

August 27th, 2016

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We’ll admit to shedding a tear when the South Carolina sailing community said goodbye to sportboat and offshore racer Pat Eudy back in 2013, but the boat with the name and logo seen around the world is far more durable. Eudy’s infamous Lutra 42 “Big Booty” was always a dog, and for the better part of a year she has sat at Pierside Boatworks in Charleston with US Marshal’s Office stickers affixed to her hull.

Last week, they relocated the Booty to the other side of the lot, and yesterday a nasty summer squall knocked her on her Booty. If she’s totaled, we want the section of transom with the name on it.

 

August 25th, 2016

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3Whether or not foiling kiteboards make it to the Tokyo 2020 Games, long time US sailboarder Steve Bodner is doing his best to get to the top of the heap in the fastest-developing sailing discipline in history.  Here’s his update (and watch the sort-of video accompaniment here):

Progress, it doesn’t come easy or fast but when you least expect it. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to come at all despite everything you’d hoped for. The important thing, is to keep moving forward.

I’ve been on the kite foil now for just over 18 months, jump starting into the new discipline just after having learned how to kite a year before that. The transition to foiling wasn’t swift, but now that I’ve got some time on the water, things are becoming easier. It’s an amazing feeling, a total game changer from the previous 30 years of sailing and windsurfing. I’ve gone from barely kiting to getting most of my sessions on the foil.  It took me most of last year to learn how to foil and most of this year learning to go downwind comfortably. The sport remains awesome yet humbling in so many ways. I can foil in most conditions from 10-24 knots. However, all that changes when you line up on the race course, especially in San Francisco.

This past August, the Hydrofoil Pro Tour came back to San Francisco for the second time. Last year I entered knowing that it would be a huge learning curve just trying to get around the course, and I barely made it. I found my weaknesses and made huge strides over last year going downwind.  This year, the middle of the fleet is now where the top of the fleet was last year (making most of their transitions), and the top guys are now going around the course 20-30% faster with the improved gear. It’s a fast-moving discipline and an even faster moving fleet. I was just one of two guys still using tube kites. Its no excuse for still not being able to tack but this is a sport where you need to devote time to improve your skills and keep up with the equipment just to make it around the course, a difficult proposition for anyone coming up through the fleet.

I still can’t make a tack. My gybes, while getting better, still end up like some story of roadrunner cartoon running off a cliff and falling into the abyss. All that recovery time puts me back in the fleet and outside the time limit for an official score. I know it’s just a matter of time ’till it comes, but all the meanwhile, getting DNF’s in the score sheet is getting pretty depressing. I keep reminding myself it’s all about the journey. As I look back at my windsurf racing career, there was a lot of time spent in the back of the fleet at international regattas getting up to speed and gaining experience. I was never the fastest or the most talented but I stuck with it the longest and the persistence eventually paid off. Now that I’m in a similar position, it’s hard to see the progress when you’ve tasted success. Full story over at my blog.

Onward & upward,
Steve Bodner
USA-4

August 25th, 2016

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They may or may not be the first AC team to nail a proper foiling tack on camera, but they’re definitely the first to provide a ‘how-to’ guide to it!  Great work from Chris Draper and the SoftBank Team Japan ‘media team’ (ahem…Matty…ahem) on provide compelling content for their fans and the public – something we’ve seen precious little of over the past year.  Chat about SBTJ here, or learn more about Softbank’s “flack” here.

August 25th, 2016

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It’s been a relatively quiet summer for storms, but with the meat of the hurricane season upon us, things are starting to boil in the tropical Atlantic.  Tropical Storm “Gaston” is a long way off (and hopefully he won’t be as nasty as his namesake in the early days of the SA Forums), but TD 99L is already on the doorstep to the Caribbean, and poised to be named Hurricane Hermine soon.  From our own longtime severe Wx prognosticator Mark Michaelson:

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 2.49.13 PMSystem 99L isn’t well organized and it isn’t in a dynamic environment for rapid intensification…YET***. The dry air surrounding 99L will give way to a less stable and more dynamic environment on final approach to the Florida Peninsula. If the ridge builds back in this could look very much like a Hurricane Andrew or Hurricane Katrina event. Neither of those ended very well for the participants…If however the topography of Hispaniola keepS the lid on things and the ridge doesn’t build back in then it is likely to just be a small, nasty little storm with modest damage. Regardless, people living in the central and western Caribbean, Florida and all of the Gulf Coast should start to watch how this system is progressing over the next four days.  More later (HERE) as things get potentially more interesting.

August 24th, 2016

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The latest trend in Olympic Sailing saw two national teams fail to send two strong crews to Rio despite their qualifying their country in their events.  49er Class Manager Ben Remocker is one of the most analytical writers currently scribbling about the sport, and he took a look at these policy decisions by Yachting Australia and the Swedish Sailing Federation – and why they are completely shortsighted, and may be damaging to the sport. We’re sorry we’re just getting this to you now, but it’s still just as relevant as it was at the end of May when posted, if not more so.  From the 49er Blog:

Sailing is facing very tough issues right now.  The Olympic movement has already removed Paralympic sailing from 2020 and given World Sailing a clear warning to make sailing:

  • More universal (more countries participating)
  • 50-50 gender equity
  • Increase the appeal to youth (largely seen as a request to make sailing interesting/attractive)

There have been years of slow progress in World Sailing often traced to MNA’s protecting their competitive edge in Olympic competition instead of pursuing reforms for the best interest of the sport.  The IOC is threatening to remove sailing events and/or reduce sailor quotas if World Sailing does not make significant progress for 2020.  The IOC recently added 5 events and 485 athletes (baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, and karate) all 50-50, and all with great ‘sport presentation’ possibilities.  Given the IOC will not go above 10,500 athletes in total, sailing really should be worried.

June 1st, 2016 was the final day for MNA’s to accept or reject their Olympic berths.  It should have been a day to review the full competitor lists for Rio.  Instead, it marks a day of heartbreak for two top skiff teams.  Stunning news came from SSF (Sweden) and Sailing Australia saying they will not send teams to Rio in the 49er & 49erFX respectively.  While the IOC looks for serious reform from sailing, sailing leadership continues to make news on small ball issues.

headlineCarl Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark (SWE) finished in 12th place at the 2016 World Championship out of a full field of the worlds best.  Further, they won the Bronze medal at the Sailing World Cup Miami 2016 in an almost complete field.  The Swedish duo, and squad in general, has put up solid if not outstanding results all quadrennial long.  The SSF takes its lead from the Swedish Olympic Committee and requires all Olympic participants hit the standard where they could finish within the top 8.  Sylvan/Anjemark was not deemed to have met this standard and board of the SSF upheld the decision.  The Swedish Olympic system has this common top 8 benchmark in all Olympic sports and it has been like this for close to 30 years.

Looking through the results of Sylvan/Anjemark since they started sailing together in September 2015 they missed the top 8 mark but hit, 11th, 11th, and 9th in the regattas that were on the SSF list.  The 3rd place finish in Miami was not set up as one of the events that would be looked at, and therefore would only have been used as a secondary supporting piece of data, according to team leadership.  It was within the SSF capacity to decide to include the Miami result in their formal review but since they published ahead the list of events it would consider they excluded the teams medal winning finish.  A protest page set up a few weeks ago when the groundwork for their exclusion was laid out has almost 1500 follows and much of the commentary refers to distrust of the Swedish System.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 2.40.35 PMSailing Australia’s also decided  to forego sending any of their three 49erFX teams to Rio.  Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks took the best results in 2016 marginally ahead of 2012 Silver medalists Olivia Price with Eliza Solly.  Tess and Caitlin finished 14th at the 2016 Worlds and Olivia with Eliza finished in 16th (both 11th nation) and both teams were coming off injuries that held them back for much of 2015.  A page in support of sending an Australia 49erFX squad to Rio gained over 3000 followers in the first 48 hours.  Of the many comments from top Australian sailors posted there one noted that Silver medalists Price and her team of match racers were not ranked in the top 10 heading into London and another noted a similar story from the 470 teams in the 90’s, where ultimately Australia has dominated for two decades based upon ongoing generations of sailors.

What is clear in both of the Swedish and Australian cases, and also likely applies to the New Zealand board sailors and radial and the Canadian team, is that their MNA leadership believe very strongly that their policy of setting high standards and restricting their Olympic teams will deliver better performances.  Despite appeals sighting fairness, efforts, legacy, example, and gender equality, and in the face of highly charged conflict, the MNA’s are sticking to their core belief that high standard influence results.  It is not always obvious how one boat on one course can effect he performance of another boat on another course other than through spread of funding, but the MNA’s remain confident of their strategy.  They do not offer berths if teams can fund raise the money necessary to ensure top teams maintain full funding, instead they limit the size of their Olympic teams.  The Olympics is big business now, especially the hunt for medals.  However, if teams are unwilling to compete if they don’t win a medal, then what becomes of the competition and the Olympic movement?

The core of the social media outrage stems from the imbalance of power held by athletes and MNAs.  A common thread of four of the major cases in discussion is that all of the effected sailors already felt like ‘outsiders’ of their federations systems in some way or other.  In each case sailors did recieve some support but deemed the support incomplete and felt like the bulk of the effort and burden born was their own.  Yet even while qualifying for the games still, the sailors must clear the MNA’s hurdles and feel hard done by when held up by them.

From a process point of view, there is no moment when the MNA does not hold all the power with regard to Olympic decisions.  With sailing being basically non-commercial, all funds flow through the MNA’s and the MNA’s systems are the only route to Olympic dreams.  It is not clear what the current version of the World Sailing Athletes Commission thinks on the matter as it has so far it has stood by without comment on the topic.  One thing is clear is that the lack of nomination by a federation creates bad blood between sailors and their supporters and the federation.  These MNA’s deem the conflict caused worth it in pursuit of every edge heading into the games.

Lloyd/Elks (AUS) split early on with the AST and used personal coaches almost from the beginning of their campaign.  Sylvan (SWE) was supported through national programs in 2013 and was on the team through 2015  until he and his former partner split in May 2015.  As he teamed up with Anjemark in September of 2015 they did earn their way back onto the Swedish team after the 2016 Worlds performance.  They ended up as the top team from Sweden by a clear margin, but did not overcome the long term view of their Federation that they could not earn an exemption to the top 8 rule as prospects.  The windsurfers from New Zealand have for a long time been at odds with YNZ over support, even though JP Tobin finished 6th at the last games.  Zac Plavsic from Canada, is also facing relegation from Rio despite qualifying for the third straight time and despite receiving almost no assistance from Sail Canada over his career.  Are these MNA’s sticking to their principles or following up pre-existing biases, well, that depends a lot on which side of the fence you sit on.  Sailing Australia issued this statement to explain how the case was handled and Swedish administrators believe that they operate and execute within a system that has been in place for the long run and that was communicated clearly to all the athletes ahead of time.

From a long lens, the Australian situation appears to be an example of the global sailing system being fragmented and without common vision.  Sailing Australia is unwilling to send a qualified team to compete in Rio.  At the same time Sailing Australia expects the Worlds top sailors to attend the Sailing World Cup Final in Melbourne this coming December.  Sailors compete against one another on the water but they are also great friends off the water.  There is a chance that 49erFX sailors will factor in their friends ‘harm’ while deciding whether to the SWC Final, which may deal another blow to an already fragile SWC Final property.

For an MNA to hold a World Cup event is a huge advantage in the sailing world.  The worlds best come to sail on an MNA’s home waters spreading learning opportunities widely through the home country at a fraction of the cost compared to sending them abroad.  US Sailing has financially supported Sailing World Cup Miami for this very reason.  Yet the Australian team likely does not include logic in their determination to put maintain a higher threshold for their Olympic team.  The high standards system has it’s supporters, like 2012 Gold medalist Mathew Belcher (AUS) who was quoted saying, “we are in the business of Olympic sport, after all,” while defending the selection panels decision to exclude the 49erFX sailors.

The cascading issue of these Olympic berths is that both Australia (49erFX) and Canada (RSX-M, RSX-W) have formally accepted their berths and plan to withdraw their acceptances should the athletes appeals be denied.  The knock on effect is that the June 1st deadline is being pushed later and closer to the games giving the next teams  in line less time to prepare.  In the case of the 49erFX, Croatia is the next team in line and would have to organize a boat along with everything else that goes along with competing, and the time they were to be allotted is being cut into through other MNA’s.  The order that teams get passed over spots is based on being the next highest paced countries at the 2015 World Championship (eligible teams highlighted in Blue).  There are close to a dozen cases across all Olympic classes where sailors have hit the World Sailing standard for Rio and their MNA’s are refusing to send them.

Assuming no last minute changes to the above, Canada is set to inherit the Swedish 49er berth and Croatia is set to inherit the Australian 49erFX berth

From the 49er class perspective, we aim to support every one of our members as best we can and fight for their interests.  Classes are only periphery members of World Sailing as the structure and power of the Olympics goes through IF’s and MNA’s and does not spread down to the events themselves.  Who knows, maybe with the IOC’s vision 2020 that too might change, but in the mean time we aim to support these sailors bids to fulfill their goals and dreams and hope that World Sailing in general can start looking beyond national interests and embrace the changes required to keep sailing int the games at all.  One can only assume that these small scale fights we are waging can only hurt our image in front of the IOC.

 

August 24th, 2016

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We don’t count ourselves among the warmongering nationbuilder crowd, but we sure do appreciate what those octa- and nona-genarians did to win their war against evil in a far simpler time.  This video of a bunch of US Navy cadets honoring one of the few sailors left went viral over the past week, and we dig it.  Thanks to SA’er ‘point break’ for the heads up, go here to chat about it.

August 24th, 2016

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amf

Gotta love this from back in the day of the Moore 24′s…

 

August 24th, 2016

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