There were 22 boats from five countries in the Nespresso 18' Skiff International Regatta for the Mark Foy Trophy but, really, only one country owns San Francisco Bay this week.
On alternating days when Team New Zealand was trouncing Oracle Team USA, the Mark Foy was strictly a clash between Kiwis---Alex Vallings' C-Tech and David McDiarmid's Yamaha. Nobody else was close.
Each scored 11 points and had the same number of firsts (5) and seconds (4), so it came down to who finished ahead in the 10th and final race: Vallings, first to McDiarmid's fourth, which became one of the latter's two throwouts.
"We had to win," Vallings said. "Halfway down the run we were third, but Yamaha was behind us the whole race."
It was the second Nespresso title in a row for Vallings and his crew of Josh McCormack and Chris Kitchen, as well as a repeat of their prestigious Mark Foy title they won in hometown Auckland last year---second in the 18s only to the JJ Giltinan that is recognized as the class's world championship, which they haven't won. Yet.
So while Britannia may rule the waves, Kiwis rule the Bay, and there is a connection. While Vallings said he has never met America's Cup skipper Dean Barker, there is a connection through Vallings' company, C-Tech.
"C-Tech does work for Team New Zealand," he said. "We make carbon masts for 18s and we've done work for Team New Zealand on the wing and sail battens for the jibs. It's been fantastic to be here racing the 18s with the 72s on a world stage."
Actually, McDiarmid won Friday's first of three races by an AC-like 51 seconds, although as the chilly breeze built from 7 to 20 knots Vallings' two wins were much closer.
"He went better when the wind built up," said McDiarmid, whose highlight was a class victory in Thursday's traditional Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race. "A good regatta . . . good fun."
(10 races; two discards)
1. C-Tech, Alex Vallings, New Zealand, (2)-1-1-(3)-1-2-2-2-1-1, 11 points (C-Tech wins tiebreaker by finishing ahead of Yamaha in final race).
2. Yamaha, David McDiarmid, New Zealand, 1-(5)-2-1-2-1-1-1-2-(4), 11.
3. Fisher & Paykel, Grant Rollerson, Australia, 3-2-4-4-4-(6)-(10)-3-4-2, 26.
4. Yandoo, Nick Press, Australia, (23/RET)-3-(8)-7-3-4-4-4-3, 31.
5. CST Composites, Howard Hamlin, USA, 4-4-3-(5)-5-3-3-5-5-(6), 32.
For full results head to Mark Foy Trophy.
- Rich Roberts/18Skiff