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Open 5.70 North Americans

It’s probably safe to say that every sailor who sailed in last weekend’s Open 5.70 North American Championships has competed in dozens of regattas. But this one will most likely stand out in their memories for years to come: The 20-boat fleet was not only treated to two fly-bys of the retiring space shuttle on Friday, but it also shared the Central Bay with AC45s in practice mode during the weekend.

Adding to the thrill of competition, fleet members got to play chicken with several AC45s.

© Ellen Hoke

"What an amazing and humbling feeling to see these boats flying next to the Open 5.70s," wrote Northern California Fleet Captain Marc Finot. "There were some very close calls on some crossings, but it was clear that the AC45s were in full control of their speed when crossing our fleet on port tack."

The space shuttle flying overhead was a welcomed distraction.

© 2012 Marc Finot

At the end of three spirited days of racing, Tom Baffico’s The Maker took top honors, with the help of long-time crew Synthia Petroka and Nik Burke — just one point ahead of Southern California-based Mor Shenanigans, sailed by Tracey Kenney, Barret Sprout and Terence Gallangher. Finot’s Frolic placed third, with crew Stephen Woodward and Emma Yates. The three-day championship was generously hosted by Golden Gate YC, with assistance from St. Francis YC.

2012 Champion, Tom Baffico on The Maker (foreground) is neck and neck with Tracey Kenney on Mor Shenanigans.

© Ellen Hoke

Conditions were challenging and changeable, especially for visiting competitors unfamiliar with the Bay’s peculiarities, but a pre-regatta seminar on Cityfront currents by super-sailor Scott Easom helped level the playing field. "Slack for low tide started at around noon on the first day and shifted by one hour every day afterward," said Finot. "With building wind as the day progressed, big wind holes and big shifts, this created very different conditions for every race and made it a great tactical challenge for the teams." Click here fore complete results.

NorCal fleet captain Marc Finot’s Frolic blasts to windward, with crew Stephen Woodward and Emma Yates holding down the rail.

© Ellen Hoke

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