The first #1 (of 3 scheduled) West Coast 2018 United States Match Race Championship (USMRC) Qualifying Events was held at The St. Francis Yacht Club last weekend. Unlike the last scheduled match racing event up there, (that resulted in no racing due to insufficient winds), this sailing event almost did not happen as well, only this time due to too much wind.
All 8 teams competing attended the skippers meeting on Saturday morning and then docked off promptly in a building breeze and ebb tide conditions onto the San Francisco cityfront course. But before the race committee could even set a course one of the boats broke down in a 30+ knot puff and they sent everyone in for what turned out to be the rest of the day. The wind built to in excess of 40+ knots that afternoon. As such the race committee moved the planned Sunday start time up 2 hours. The first races on Sunday started shortly after 8am in 20+ knots of building breeze and steep, choppy conditions. The race committee did not allow spinnakers in race 1 but for races 2 through 4 made it the competitors option. Some teams chose not to take the risk and others flew the kites, often only to wipe out hard on the run. Our SDYC team won our first four races before the race committee took the spinnakers away for the rest of the days racing.
For all 7 races sailed on Sunday we led at every start, windward mark and leeward mark, and all but 1 finish. However, unfortunately we still somehow managed to drop 2 races. Race 5 on account of a rogue umpire flag as we crossed the finish line clear ahead of our competitor whom we had led rail to rail around the course save for a one wave surge where they plowed into our transom, a boat length from the finish line. We are all still scratching our heads on that one and were never offered an explanation from the umpire staff either. In race 6 we suffered a knock down during a tack while leading when one of the jib sheets got an override on the winch. By the time we got the keel back into the ocean our competitor was too far ahead for us to catch up with less than 1 lap in the race remaining. In race 7 we led what turned out to be the regatta winner and USMRC finals qualifier from start to finish and built a very solid half a leg lead by the time we crossed the line. Unfortunately it was too little too late and we finished the single round robin event with 5 wins and 2 losses and a three way tie for second finish. Since only the first place finisher qualifies for the USMRC finals, we have to try to again at the upcoming SDYC event next month (West Coast USMRC Qualifier #2), June 9th & 10th.
We are grateful to the Competition Fund and the San Diego Yacht Club for their continued support of our quest to attend and represent at the 2018 USMRC finals to be held in Chicago this fall, October 17-21 in Sonars.