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Rolex Big Boat Series Wraps Up

September 30, 2013 – San Francisco Bay


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The J/105 fleet shows their true colors in this weekend's Rolex Big Boat Series © 2017 RBBS / Daniel Forster

This year's Rolex St. Francis Big Boat Series was a little different from the 48 that came before it. Most noticeably, there were a lot more small boats — 35 Melges 24s and seven 24-ft J/70s — than big boats. In fact, this was the first time ever that boats under 30 feet were ever allowed in the BBS. For the first time in about six years, some of the fleets were sent out under the Gate to a mark off Pt. Diablo. Lastly, instead of all windward-leeward courses, some triangle courses were mixed in, along with the Bay Tour finale. 


Sy Kleinman's Schumacher 54 Swiftsure lived up to her name, taking first in IRC B. © 2017 RBBS / Daniel Forster

But most things remained the same, including the classic San Francisco Bay sailing conditions. The racing was held in Chamber of Commerce weather conditions, with lots of sun and pleasant temperatures. Thursday through Saturday the wind filled in late, but nicely, with 15- to 18-knot breezes. Sunday was a little different, as the wind never made it to the boats starting at Treasure Island, so they had to be moved up with the Alcatraz starts, where there was a 10-knot breeze for the 'Bay tour' course. There were no 25+ knot gear-busting days this year. Watching the fleets race was lovely, but of course not quite as exciting as the America's Cup, which ran late, but thankfully ended just in time to avoid a confict.


Melgii as far as the eye can see. © 2017 RBBS / Daniel Forster

HPR Class — This class, which is for particularly light and fast boats that don't rate well under IRC, went to Peter Krueger's Reno-based J/125 Double Trouble, which won the seven-race series with 18 points. In so doing, she nipped Daniel Thielman's Tiburon based R/P44 Tai Kuai, which had three bullets, by just one point. "Sailing in HPR is like sailing in catamarans," said Double Trouble's tactician Brian Ledbetter of Seattle. "Even if it's a bad day out there, you're ripping around the race course and having fun.

IRC A — With just two boats, this was the smallest fleet of all. Jim Swartz's Park City, Utah-based TP52 Vesper took all bullets to easily take honors from Isao Mita's Yokohama-based Beecom.


Urs Rothacher's SL33 BridgeRunner just barely nabbed first in Multihulls. © 2017 RBBS / Daniel Forster

IRC B — Sy Kleinman's Saratoga-based Schumacher 54 Swiftsure used five bullets to outpoint Jeff Pulford's Salinas-based Sydney 38 Bustin' Loose. It was Swiftsure helmsman Steve Taft's 39th Big Boat Series, and the 30th for Kleinman, who is now in his 90s.

IRC DMirthmaker, Tad Lacey's Belvedere-based A35, had three bullets in winning class honors. It may have been the first time in Big Boat Series history that the drivers on two winning boats — Taft and Lacey — had been reported dead by the New York Times. (But that was many years ago in the '79 Fastnet Race). Encore, Wayne Koide's San Anselmo-based Sydney 36, had two bullets in taking second.

J/70 — Jim Cascino, Commodore of the St. Francis YC, had four bullets with Eos in eight races to tie Frank Slootman's Pleasanton-based Little Hand on total points, but won the tie-breaker. It's the first time we can remember that the commodores of the St. Francis and the San Francisco YCs, the two most prestigious clubs on the Bay, won their classes in the Big Boat Series.

J/105 — Scooter Simmon's Belvedere-based Blackhawk had four bullets to best Bruce Stone's San Francisco-based Arbitrage by three points in the 22-boat fleet.

J/120 — Stephen Madeira's Menlo Park-based Mister Magoo nipped Barry Lewis' Atherton-based Chance by one point.


Kame Richards' Golden Moon (left) put the pedal to the metal to take first in the Express 37 fleet. © 2017 RBBS / Daniel Forster

Melges 24 —With their Worlds starting this week across the Bay, the Melges 24 fleet was, with 38 entries, the largest. Scott Holmgren's Oklahoma-based Rosebud took top honors, in a large part because of the driving of Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson of Annapolis. Franco Rossini's Blu Moon, from Switzerland, with Flavio Faviv driving, had led early on, but had to settle for second. The Rosebud team won the Commodore's Cup for their efforts.


Just how many Rolex's does Sy Kleinman need? All of them! Photo Latitude / Doña de Mallorca
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Express 37 — Sailmaker Kame Richards of Golden Moon from Alameda topped Bartz Schneider's Crystal Bay-based Expeditious by two points.

Multihulls — The Mulithull class was certainly not one-design, as the seven boats ranged from Urs Rothacher's Oakland-based SL33 BridgeRunner to Tom Siebel's Redwood City-based MOD70 Orion, which has done 44 knots on the Bay. Rothacher prevailed in the seven-boat class, with Jerome Ternynck's San Francisco-based Extreme 40 SmartRecruiters second.


The Orion crew were in good spirits about taking third in Multihulls . . . until some joker rabbit-eared them! Photo Latitude / Doña de Mallorca
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It may have been the Little Big Boat Series, but it was still a fine one. Fine enough that Rolex signed up to be the sponsor for another three years.

- latitude / richard

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New items in Our Chandlery

Classy Deadline the 15th


Sailor Rescued off Tillamook

September 30, 2013 – Tillamook, OR


Duane Jones (left) was safely rescued from his sailboat in heavy seas. © 2017 PO1 David Mosley / USCG

Along with the fall's first major storm hitting the Oregon/Washington coasts this weekend also came the inevitable request for assistance by sailboat. On Saturday, Duane Jones of the Oak Harbor, WA-based 40-ft sailboat (make unknown) The Rock called the Coast Guard for a rescue 14 miles off Tillamook, Oregon. According to the Coasties, Jones no longer felt safe on his vessel in 30-knot winds and 20-ft seas. 

An MH-60 Jayhawk helo arrived on scene and proceeded to pluck Jones from the frigid North Pacific waters. Check out the video below for your daily dose of Brrrrrr!  

An uninjured Jones was taken to Air Station Astoria. At last word, The Rock was sailing north under autopilot. Air Station Astoria will conduct flyovers to try to locate the vessel so Jones might have an opportunity to recover her.

The strong system that pounded Oregon and Washington this weekend will abate and, by Thursday, be replaced by light southerlies. If you're planning to leave the Pacific Northwest soon, be sure to keep a sharp eye out for the abandoned 40-footer!

- latitude / ladonna

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Oracle Comeback Win Was Brilliant - and Legit

September 30, 2013 – San Francisco Bay

All the clamor — mostly from New Zealand, but also from the United States — that Oracle Team USA  'must have' cheated in its spectacular comeback from 8 to 1 to retain the Cup is rapidly dying down. There are a number of reasons why.
 
First of all, on Saturday, Kiwi honcho Grant Dalton firmly denied rumors that the Kiwis were going to sue, allegedly on the basis that Oracle had used an illegal or semi-illegal automatic system to improve the stablity of their cat. During a Radio Sport interview, Dalton said, "Absolutely not [to a legal challenge], in any shape, form or any other way. It would be an incredibly bad thing to do."
 
It's the last sentence that epitomizes why so many sailing fans — Latitude included — have such love and respect for the Kiwis. They are perceived as true sportsmen, who care so much about sport that they only want to win on the water, not in the courtroom.
 
The defeat was very hard on members of the Kiwi team, particularly helmsman Dean Barker, who is known to be particularly sensitive, and no doubt felt he had been carrying the weight of the country on his shoulders. Dalton, who is as rough and tough as they come, said he was having a "brutal" time of it, too, but for a slightly different reason. Having long said that the 34th would be his last America's Cup, he was devastated by the fact that the team he worked with so hard for the better part of three years was coming apart, as other sailing bodies were trying to entice team members away.
 
A second reason the clamor is dying down is that Barker has said that, by the end of the Cup, Oracle's cat was simply set up better and faster.
 
Did Oracle have an illegal, automatic Stability Augmentation System that made their cat easier to control than the Kiwi cat, as many have alleged? Not according to highly-respected journalist Matthew Sheahan of Yachting World, who had access to some pretty good sources. While Sheahan said he didn't know exactly what Oracle had, he was led to believe it was a ratcheting system, sort of like gears on a bicycle, for different fixed settings for angles of attack. It should be remembered that the board could move on three axis.
 
Writing in his America's Cup blog for Yachting World, Sheahan seems to have gotten more inside poop than other journalists about differences in the Oracle cat and the changes that were made to her in the middle of the Cup.
 
1. Oracle had lower drag foils that were faster, but had to learn from the Kiwis, after the Cup started, how to pop up on them quickly. The Kiwis, by the way, had had many more days on the water with their cat. Oracle's foils had less curve and were three feet less deep.
 
2. Oracle added a filet on their T-shaped rudders to reduce cavitation, and perhaps 'nose cones' on the front of the rudders.
 
3. Oracle added an 'interceptor', or vertical plate, on the transom to modify water flow.
 
4. Oracle had or went to an asymmetrical set-up, with more of an angle of attack on the starboard board to improve upwind performance on port, which was the tack you wanted to be on when the wind cranked left on the windward leg. The asymmetrical set-up was also an advantage going downwind.
 
5. Oracle added more mast rake, just as Jeff Thorpe had hollered about, for better upwind performance and balance.
 
6. Oracle added more vertical leech on the lower sections of their wing, and more twist off the top.
 
According to Sheahan, Oracle made the biggest changes on October 16, when they were down 7-1. They still lost the next race, but won the next eight to retain the Cup.
 
In the humor department, Oracle apparently dubbed their boats the 'Mistress' and the 'Wife'. The Mistress, which was the first boat, was more wild and wayward. You'll remember she's the one that flipped and broke apart, then had to be rebuilt. They won the Cup with the more reliable Wife.
 
While at the St. Francis YC Big Boat Series, we ran into Gino Morrelli. Naturally our discussion turned to the America's Cup. Morrelli, who is half of the Huntington Beach-based Morrelli & Melvin design firm that drew up the huge Oracle trimaran that wrestled the 33rd America's Cup away from the Swiss, says sailing can now be divided into two eras: BF, or before foiling, and AF, or after foiling.
 
After Oracle won the 33rd Cup, they commissioned studies on what boat should be used for the 34th Cup. M&M was put in charge of coming up with proposals for multihulls. "Trimarans as well as catamarans were considered, but trimarans had to be dropped from consideration because they couldn't fit into a 747 for shipping," says Gino. Under the rules of the 34th America's Cup, AC72s had to be capable of being disassembled for shipping in under 48 hours. The idea was that they would be flown from city to city on a world tour. That idea was dropped in favor of the AC45, which were shipped from site to site for World Series events.
 
Early on, it looked as though monohulls were favored for the 34th Cup, but ultimately it was decided to go with 72-ft cats — with certain limitations. A number of design constraits were put into the AC72 formula to keep them from foiling. But they weren't enough. "As soon as it was agreed the cats could have T-shaped rudders, we knew we could get them to foil," says Morrelli. "We didn't know exactly how, just that it would be possible."
 
Latino Mascalone, the Challenger of Record, had the power of veto on the design. According to Morrelli, they agreed that the cats could have boards that could be raised and lowered, the pitch changed, and canted, but nothing could be done with the rudders. "It was like insisting we design airplanes with no controls on the tails, which would result in a dead stick." The AC72s ultimately would foil, but not nearly as well as they could have if there had been no limitations on the rudder adjustments.
 
It took about four months for all the interested parties to hammer out the parameters of the cats. It then became basically Morrelli & Melvin's job to come up with a formula for the AC72s, and to then try and find loopholes in it. 
 
While Oracle is always the one accused of working loopholes and pressing the boundary of the spirit of the event, it must be remembered that it was the Kiwis, whose boat was designed by Pete Melvin, who shocked the world by foiling. Once that happened, everyone else had to struggle to catch up, particularly Artemis, whose first cat was not supposed to be a fully foiling cat.
 
Morrelli says he doesn't know what control device Oracle had for their boards, but halfway through the Cup he suspects they started to use a system where, by pushing just one button, they could alter the board on more than one axis at once. The Kiwis, he believes, could only control one axis with a button, and had to do the others with winches and such, which was slower and thus less effective.
 
To put the final nail in the 'Oracle cheated' coffin, Kimball Livingston pointed out in Blue Planet Times that the Kiwis requested the International Jury consider the legality of Oracle's system for controlling their boards. On August 8, the jury — which included one Kiwi but no Americans — said they had investigated and ruled that the system was "human controlled" and therefore legal. In fact, the only component of the system New Zealand was challenging was a small spring in the linear actuator. If you read Public Interpretation PI-49 you'll see that although not human powered, springs are allowed.

- latitude / richard

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What Did You Think of the Cup?

September 30, 2013 – San Francisco Bay


Kiwi Zoe (left), her American boyfriend Scott and their friend Marina were totally psyched up about the Cup. How about you? © 2017 Lynn Ringseis

You've seen it, had time to process it, so what do you think? Should it be held in monohulls or multihulls? Should foiling be allowed? Should there be a nationality rule? Should it be held on San Francisco Bay? Email Richard with your succinct thoughts.

 

- latitude / richard

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