A wicked fast platform with dead sexy looks, stable sailing at high speeds, a tightly controlled box rule, and stellar international fleet with 100-boat events galore; that’s the Formula 18 catamaran, and even on the bass-ackwards US racing scene, it’s growing…fast. Here’s part 1 of SurfCityRacing’s report after his virgin On-The-Water Anarchy experience covering the F-18 Pacific Coast Championships last weekend in San Francisco.
We assembled our OTWA West crack crew and headed to the mighty St Francis Yacht Club last Thursday to get ready for what was to be an epic showdown on the City Front. F18 teams from up and down the West Coast from Canada to the Mexican border made the journey to San Francisco to crown the champs of the West Coast.
This was our first go at live on the water coverage and the truck looked like someone dumped a pot of spaghetti in the back seat, so we wanted to show up early to get the bugs worked out. Tapping in to the StFYC wireless, we broadcasted a live test from the parking lot of the StFYC Thursday evening and it went perfectly, so we had high hopes for success. We returned Friday night, launched the skiff and readied for our historical moment Saturday morning. A big Thank you to my good friend Adam Borcherding, long-time Bay Area racer and Hobie 16 A Fleeter for volunteering his weekend for commentary. If you’ve ever met Adam, you know that he’s in it for the good of yachting for sure. The guy is no joke and gets shit done. Thanks bro.
Our many interactions with the staff at StFYC was pretty incredible, I haven’t been called ‘sir’ that many time since I worked on Camp Pendleton. Melanie Roberts, the Race Coordinator for StFYC was super helpful, and assisted us with whatever we needed. Several StFYC staff made their way up to the race deck where we were broadcasting from and asked if we needed anything. Very nice.
The F18 class, charged-up by Hobie Division 4 Chair and Class Coordinator Don Atchley from the Pacific NW, set up their 18 registered boats on Crissy Field. There is a nice sandy beach at Crissy, making it a perfect and picturesque place to launch cats to say the least; the scenery jogging by is incredible. Located about a mile east of the Golden Gate Bridge just next to the StFYC put the F18 class front and center for City Front Racing.
The course on Saturday was set up between Gas House Cove and Alcatraz, solidifying the fact that the entire city of SF would be able to see the high performance F18s rip up The Bay. Race 1 was run in 10kts and flooding current, fairly benign conditions for The Bay. The trend that we saw the entire weekend was Greg Thomas and Jacques Bernier (the Hobie Factory Team), and Pete Melvin and his son James would separate from the fleet in short order and match race by themselves; sometimes a leg ahead of boat 3! Race 1 saw Greg well ahead of Pete, and in the 3rd spot Ian Sammis – not too awfully far behind Pete. Dan Delave reeling in the 4th spot racing neck and neck with John Williams who scored the 5th.
With the flood slacking and the wind increasing, the second race saw much of the same for the top 3 spots and Jdub and his crew Dennis Key (SNU boy) brought home the 4th. In race 2 Pete proved that he’s got stones as he had to fight his way through some big boat traffic and pulled a absolute balls-out manoeuvre on port tack against a large monohull. OTWA West got it all on tapeRace 3 saw some excitement, the wind fired up to the upper teens and the ebb started to flow. Pete and Greg traded tacks all the way up the racecourse with the end result being a photo finish with Pete and his son James getting the bullet.
Ian Sammis who was in solid 3rd pitched and broke the rig on his new boat, which took him out of racing for the rest of the event. Another trend that we noticed was that the 2 new C2s on course were oftentimes match-racing by themselves. Matched skills of the teams or matched designs for the conditions, you tell me? With Ian’s boat out of commission, the 3rd spot in race 3 was opened up for Bay Area locals Will Baylis and Jim Johnstone. These two had never raced an F18 before this event. Will, a long time Bay Area sailor, won a Silver Medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in Soling class with John Kostecki. Jim an avid kite sailor joined Will and together they had the local knowledge of the currents and conditions to get them into the top spots. See Will and Jim, with all white sails, battle with the top of the fleet here .
After the third race was all said and done, local Hobie Division 3 sailors Jason Moore and crew Jake Sailor were in the 4th slot and the final boat to the third race. See them reel in the 4th spot here, black main white jib. Due to breakdowns, fatigue and many other reasons the majority of the fleet hit the beach early.
After a little interview session with the fleet high atop the StFYC, it was time for dinner and Mount Gay. The F18 fleet just about started a Rum riot when the organizers started filling glasses, but told the fleet they had to wait. Never, ever stand in between racers and their rum!
The F18 table at dinner was definitely noticeable. With a loud football chant of Ole’ Ole’ and a retort from the Express guys, they almost shook the club off of its foundation. The F18 fleet is comprised of a bunch of friends; most of them have been racing various classes together for years. They race hard, party hard, and love life to the fullest. They bring their kids and families to the races and share their tuning secrets. It’s just a bunch of bros hanging out and having fun; the epitome of what sailboat racing should be. Part Two next.