Skip to content

Young Sailors Converge on San Francisco Bay

C420 North Americans at St. Francis Yacht Club

Surprise. We thought we’d see 60 boats when C420 North American Championship racing kicks off tomorrow, Thursday. Instead, 102 boats registered from points around the USA. All competitors are under age 22, and this is the biggest youth regatta San Francisco Bay has seen in a while.

Twelve races are scheduled, Thursday through Sunday, with a first gun at noon each day.

Boy and girl hauling boat
C420 wrangling on StFYC’s dinghy dock.
© 2019 Kimball Livingston

The C420 (Club 420) is a beefed up version of the i420 (International 420). The design was beefed up to meet the pounding given club and college fleets. During his years at Princeton, Paul Heineken, the current commodore of the hosting club, St. Francis, won the 1966 i420 national championship. He might tell you in that context that the C420 was dumbed down as well as beefed up, with tweakables de-tweaked. The commodore would be correct. However, big names have climbed through the C420 ranks to great things. One name that jumps out is Taylor Canfield, NA champion in 2006 and 2009, later world match-race champion and now skipper of 2021 America’s Cup hopeful Stars + Stripes.

No predictions for the 2019 NAs, but one pair everyone will be watching is a polished team from Coronado, Ansgar Jordan and Patrick Mulcahy, winners of the Nationals in 2018 and third at the NAs. They made the quarter-finals two weeks ago at the US Youth Match Racing Championship in San Diego, and they’ve put in time on SF Bay. There’s good money also on rising San Diego stars Jack Egan and Jack Plavan, who were factors as well in the match racing along with Jeffrey Peterson from Balboa YC, who made the semis. By the way, 100 is a lot of entries for the 2019 NAs, but 2018 was raced on the Mysterious East Coast — where most of the action goes on — with 166.

Starts are on the Cityfront or the face of Alcatraz. Did we mention, plenty of ebb as we get things going?

Lots of Bay Area kids are in this. Team StFYC will be out in force. Their kids have been training hard, but they’re not alone. This is the real deal. Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation should be strong. Encinal YC was practicing on the Cityfront over the weekend.

— Kimball Livingston

Leiter Cup at Richmond YC

Vanloads of teenage girls poured into Richmond YC on Monday, hauling blade cases bigger than they were plus all the gear for a week of racing Laser Radials on the Berkeley Circle. If conditions in the Slot get even gnarlier than usual, the race committee can move the action to the more protected waters of Keller Cove off Point Richmond’s Miller/Knox shoreline.

The girls, from all over the United States, including several from Hawaii, will race for the US Youth Women’s Singlehanded Championship in Laser Radials and 4.7s. (The 4.7 has a smaller bottom mast section and sail than the Standard and the Radial. The mast’s pre-bend reduces the power of the rig, and the sail measures only 4.7 square meters, compared to 7 for the Standard and 5.7 for the Radial. The smaller sail means that sailors weighing less than 145 lbs. can handle the boat. All the Lasers have the same hull.)

Sails on the floor
After checking in, each competitor stuck her sail numbers onto brand-new practice and class sails. The red diamond logo indicates that it’s a Radial sail.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

A two-day clinic started yesterday. No private coaching is allowed. Instead US Sailing provides world-class female coaches to help all the competitors refine their skills. Among this year’s coaches is Anna Tobias, perhaps better known by her maiden name, Anna Tunnicliffe. In 2008 Anna won an Olympic gold medal sailing the Radial. She was Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2009 and 2011 and US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year every year from 2008 to 2011.

Three days of racing — Thursday-Saturday — will follow the clinic. The 43 sailors will vie for the Nancy Leiter Clagett Trophy. They’ll all vote for a Sportsmanship award recipient too. Last year’s Sportsmanship winner, Sarah Grace, from Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, is among this year’s sailors; last year’s Leiter Cup winner, Elizabeth Shanahan of Connecticut, is not. Six entries represent the host club, RYC. Encinal, StFYC and SFYC each have one entry. Laser Performance provided new boats, but some of the locals chose to sail their own.

During the regatta, the girls will have plenty of time to make new friends. Their busy schedule includes a movie night, a speaker night and a night out on the town in San Francisco. RYC members who live in the neighborhood are hosting the visitors in their homes.

— Latitude / Chris

1 Comment

  1. Paolo Sheaffer 5 years ago

    Two points: My understanding of the bent lower on 4.7 is to move center of effort aft, (as so much sail area has been taken off the back) to keep the boat balanced, not so much to reduce power. The red diamond on sail indicates female competitor. Helpful to RC’s as most radial events are mixed gender fleets. Thanks for the youth coverage!

Leave a Comment

Boating Accident
On the evening of July 2, San Francisco-based cruisers Seth and Elizabeth Hynes suffered a shock that most sailors only endure in nightmares.
Ocean Cleanups
In era of deeply polarized opinions over basic environmental truths, there’s one area of overwhelming consensus: People are unanimously appalled by plastic in the ocean.