sixes and sevens

Race Report

UPDATE: So at least one whiner got his panties in a twist over Snap’s article below. Here is what he sent to Snapper: “Hey asshole. I just read your post on SA. I will do my best to get you banned from St. Francis, we do(n’t) need your kind.”

Apparently said whiner has threatened to send letters of complaint to STFYC, the Six Meter Assoc. and Snapper’s YC. Stand by with the Jiffy Pop. This could be a beauty…

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The International Six Metre Invitational Regatta hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club this week concluded with a whimper a day early, the result of a masterpiece of scheduling by the race organizers.

Racing was slated for Tuesday through Friday with the first warning signal at 2PM Tuesday and Wednesday and 4PM Thursday and Friday due to the race area being closed because of Fleet Week, an awesome display of naval aviation, oh, and the Canadian Snowbirds, who do a few flyby’s and then apologize to everyone. The Blue Angels always put on a great show with practice runs Thursday and Friday.

The ideal wind speed conditions for optimal 6m racing is 8-14 true. This allows the boats to be powered up and keeps the fleet tight.  In San Francisco, starting races later in the day typically means lots of breeze. With this in mind, concerns were voiced to the primary race organizers with hopes that racing would be moved up to take advantage of the lighter morning breezes. This was brought up at the skippers meeting and quashed by the skipper of one of the two locally crewed boats, who also happened to be the StFYC Commodore. Apparently his crew was unavailable earlier, and the wishes of those teams who had traveled from as far as Rhode Island didn’t matter.

One of the highlights of the regatta was the announcement by Matt Brooks – the International Six Metre President and owner of ‘Lucie’, the beautiful Rule 2 classic – that after racing on Tuesday there was going to be free food and booze for the competitors courtesy of him and fellow 6 meter owners, Bob and Molly Cadranell. When we got to the bar area after racing we were handed wrist bands to identify us as participants. I can only assume that this was a late scheduled event but the club went out of their way to accommodate the bevy of hungry and thirsty racers. To make sure no one over imbibed and would therefore be in peak form the next day, only one bartender was on hand to handle both sides of the full bar. The two plates of stuffed mushrooms, placed in an adjacent room with no announcement, were exquisite. A third plate would simply have been too much.

Dave Wiard, the PRO and his team on the race committee did an admirable job on the first two days in breeze and waves on the upper edge of the boats capabilities. It was more of a battle of attrition with only minor breakdowns and gear failures with winds over 20 knots at times, and short tacking to get flood relief along the breakwater in front of StFYC with 170% Genoas was exhausting, albeit great for the spectators. The eight boats raced as one fleet but were split into sub-fleets for scoring with Rule 2,3 and Modern boats represented. However, there was plenty of overlap between the classics and moderns at times when the wind was under 15 knots keeping everyone on their toes.

There was another skippers meeting on Thursday before the baffling 4PM warning signal and with the Fleet Week ‘box’ -the now closed area in front of the club- the PRO announced that we would be racing across the bay at Knox. The boats had to head west towards the Golden Gate Bridge, tacking in the open area between the box and the club, then reach across the bay to Knox. We saw true winds in the high teens on a big ebb resulting in lots of waves over the bow and water below and three boats were well across the bay when we heard the Commodore on the radio telling the PRO that we should race back near the club. The PRO asked what the “vibe from the fleet” is and the reply from the Commodore was “tThe fleet vibe is non-existent, they are all from another country”. The PRO acquiesced and announced to the fleet that he was heading back to the club area with Lima (follow me) flying.

When we finally got racing, now around 4:45PM, we raced in puffy, fluky breeze. A little bit of everything with puffs in the high teens to windless holes (typical of that area). The Blue Angels decided to run a full show practice as were prepared to start. It was impossible to hear anything at times making the start challenging, especially as it ended up being a general recall and we had to do it all again. The leeward mark ‘A’ was at the top of the box and when we rounded it we were greeted by the approving sirens and horns of the police and coast guard boats. The course was short and the racing close at times with lots of position changes on the runs in the spotty conditions.

Three races were run with the final short up and down race in dying light breeze. We hit the dock after 7PM and were immediately called up for an owners meeting. Matt Brooks polled the fleet to see if the owners would like to call it a regatta since they had got in the required amount of races in and that another late start on Friday was going to be problematic with Fleet Week traffic. The majority of the owners said they would rather not sail and the event was over a day early.

This event will go into the Snapper Files as one of the worst scheduled Regattas I’ve ever been to in one of the best sailing venues on earth. From what I understand the event morphed from a two boat match race to a real regatta and fitting it into an already set race calendar for the year was tough. The entire fleet had been transported at great expense to the owners and to have to sit out the last day is unacceptable. IF this event is going to happen again the race organizers need to look at how to make this a great event and listen to the participants. I believe incorporating this event into The Jessica Cup, which is held the weekend after fleet week, which will be a good call.

The awards dinner was great even if the club didn’t have enough tables for all the participants. (Hey, isn’t this the “legendary” Stfyc where non members pay a 30% surcharge for the privilege of eating and drinking at their stifling club? And they couldn’t quite manage to bring out an extra table or two? – ed.)

six 2Congratulations to the class winners:  Russ Sylvestri sailing Bob Cadranell’s ‘Arunga’ and dominating the Mmoderns, current world champion Eric Jespersen driving Peter Hoffman’s ‘Goose’ for winning the Rule 3 classics, and Greg Stewart sailing ‘Sprig’ for besting Matt Brooks ‘Lucie’ in a true cage match with both tied.

Epilogue:  I would be remiss in acknowledging RC Keefe, Matt Brooks, Rainer Mueller and Bob and Molly Cadranell for their amazing support of the 6 metre class. RC is a legend at StFYC and the reason this regatta happened. Matt Brooks, who also owns the venerable ‘Dorade’, is clearly a true yachtsman with a real passion for the sport and classic yachts. Rainer is probably the single reason 6 metres are racing on the west coast. Bob and Molly Cadranell are longtime classic yacht owners and lovers, who will go above and beyond to make these events happened. Molly buys and coordinates the trophies and so much more. People like this make this class fun and their efforts are truly appreciated!