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StFYC at the RYS Bicentenary

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Royal Yacht Squadron, which was founded on June 1, 1815, in Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the UK. During a race around the Isle in 1851, New York Yacht Club Commodore John Cox Stevens successfully challenged for the Squadron’s £100 Cup with the yacht America. That Cup became known as the America’s Cup.

The highlight of this summer’s anniversary celebrations was the Bicentenary International Regatta held July 25-31 on the Solent. Twenty-five yacht clubs were invited to take part, including San Francisco’s St. Francis YC.

Seen here competing in the Bicentenary, the J-Class yacht Velsheda was built in 1933 by Camper & Nicholson.

© 2015 Paul Wyeth

More than 200 yachts entered the regatta including the majestic 130-ft J-Class yachts Velsheda, Lionheart and Ranger. StFYC team members participated in four divisions, including team racing in J/70s for six crew under 30 and the Beneteau First 40 one-design class with a crew of 10 including at least one person under 25 and one woman.

For the one-design (aka level racing in the UK) division, the regatta used a fleet of matched Beneteaus from Sunsail.

© 2015 Ellen Hoke Photography

StFYC members also raced in IRC Class 1 on Odin, a Swan 90 with a host of star talent including Peter Isler, navigator; Charlie Ogletree, tactician; and Steve Hayles, strategist/trimmer. Craig Healy trimmed the main, and owner Tom Siebel was on the helm. StFYC members Pam Rorke Levy, Mark Dahm, Brad Whitaker, David Chamberlain and Doug Hope crewed on the 1929 52-ft yawl Dorade helmed by owner Matt Brooks in the classic IRC Class 3.

Five days of racing were scheduled for the IRC classes. Unfortunately, strong weather conditions canceled racing on Monday, July 25. Conditions improved throughout the week, and on Wednesday, the 27th, the IRC fleets, including the J-Class boats, took off on a clockwise race around the Isle of Wight.

Peter Stoneberg, who races the ProSail 40 Shadow on San Francisco Bay, sailed on Odin and collected their Third Place Overall award from Sir Ben Ainslie.

© 2015 Ellen Hoke Photography

StFYC faced some tough competition in the Beneteau one-design fleet. The crew of Chris Raab (helm), Russ Silvestri, Commodore Sean Svendsen, Mario Yovkov, Pascal Hines (under 25), Doug Robbins, Chris Welsh, Kermit Schnickel, Nicole Breault and Rick Brent finished the regatta in sixth place, nine points off the leaders from NYYC.

StFYC’s biggest achievement was in the Team Racing. In three days of racing,126 races fit into almost three complete round robins. In the semi-finals, the StFYC team took on NYYC in the best-of-three series, while Royal Thames YC took on Costa Smeralda YC. StFYC and Royal Thames moved forward.

Conditions were getting lighter and lighter as teams prepared for the finals in a bay nestled under the Osborne House, summer home to Queen Victoria. Only one race determined the finals as the wind died away. With the two StFYC boats finishing one and two, they secured their victory. "We had an awesome time," said tactician Tyler Baeder. "Our team have sailed with and against each other for a while. We made mistakes but not too many; we stuck to the basics.”

The StFYC team racers collect their prizes. Left to right: Kayle McComb, Claire Dennis, Tyler Baeder, Hans Henken, Rob Childs of Hiscox Insurance, Kevin Laube, and team captain Kieran Chung.

© 2015 Ellen Hoke Photography

A week-long social program accompanied the sailing. It was a grand event on every level, and San Francisco was well represented.

During the final awards presentations, guests and participants were treated to a display by the Red Devil Parachute team.

© 2015 Ellen Hoke Photography

Editor’s Note: We had to shorten this story to fit in ‘Lectronic. Read the unabridged version here.

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