Winning winning at San Francisco 18ft skiffs

With a wink and a nod to experience, Australia's John Winning and California's Howard Hamlin won the first two races of the eighth annual 18' Skiff International Regatta Monday. Winning's third place in the second race left him in first place with four points. Hamlin and Winning's son John Jr., a.k.a. Herman, share second place with six.

Winning, 57, and Hamlin, 56, each a world champion in the class in past years, have been competing in the event off the City Front since its inception, but few of their victories have been as satisfying.

In the first race, as the other 11 boats lined up for starboard tack starts, Winning, with crew David Gibson and Andrew Day, sailed off alone to the pin end of the line in front of the host St. Francis Yacht Club with an obviously different plan: a bold port tack start with no right of way but a big advantage on the wind angle that would allow them not only to cross all their rivals but get to the favored right side of the course.

“We just thought it was there and we'd give it a try,” Winning said, smiling.

Nice try. All they had to do was stay upright the rest of the race. Winning led everyone to the first mark by 45 seconds and cruised home 55 seconds ahead in the two-lap race.

His son Herman didn't suspect what his dad was planning but said, “He did it well. It's a bit of a risky maneuver if you get pinned, but he got away with it.”

Hamlin said, “He loves to do that. We talked about it but it's high risk. Good on him.”

Winning said the opportunity for a successful port tack start “was still there in the second race, but we couldn't get over there. We're quite happy with our speed.”

In the second race, Australia's Trevor Barnabas achieved a strong standard start and built a controlling lead over Hamlin, sailing with Paul Allen and Matt Noble, but on his jibe into the leeward mark on the second of three laps his skiff flipped and Hamlin flew by, closely pursued by Herman Winning. By the time Barnabas and crew got their boat upright, they were destined for sixth place.

Winds started at 14 knots and built to 18 through the two races, with gusts to 20 knots.

Hamlin took no joy in the way he won. “You just feel, well, that could happen to us, but we're in the lead,” he said. “All we're focused on is getting around them.”

After taking the lead from Barnabas, they still had to fight off Herman Winning, carrying him to the far right corner before tacking toward the finish line to win by 10 seconds.

All three people on Hamlin's skiff sailed in last week's SAP 505 Worlds but on different boats.

There will be two races each day through Friday, including Thursday's late afternoon Bridge to Bridge classic with kite boarders and windsurfers. The scoring includes discards after the fifth and ninth races.

Complete results

(after 2 of 10 races)

1. Yandoo, John Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Day, Australia, 1-3, 4 points.

2. Harken, Howard Hamlin/Paul Allen/Matt Noble, Long Beach, Calif., 5-1, 6.

3. AppliancesOnLine, Herman Winning/Tim Austin/David Ewings, Australia, 4-2, 6.

4. Asko/Gill, Archie Massey/Simon Noarne/Dan Wilsdon, Australia, 2-5, 7.

5. 24hrRoadService, Trevor Barnabas/Aaron Links/Daniel Phillips, Australia, 3-6, 9.

6. Slam, no crew information, 8-4, 12.

7. MacQuarie Group, Micah Lane/Jack Macarty/Peter Harris, Australia, 6-7, 13.

8. Spot Satellite/Toyota Messenger, Dan Brandt/Cooper Dressler/Danny Cayard, 7-8, 15.

9. Skiff Foundation Blue, no crew information, 10-9, 19.

10. Skiff Foundation White, Chad Freitas/Mark Breen/J.V. Gilmour, Albany, Calif., 11-11, 22.

11. Harken Blue, Joey Pasquali/Rory Giffen/Kevin Richards, Santa Cruz, Calif., 9-DNF, 23.

12. Panasonic Viera, John Whitty/Dan Higlett/Harry Bethwaite, Australia, DNF-10, 24.

13. Skiff Foundation Red, Ty Reed/Dan Malpas/J.V. Gilmour, Albany, Calif., DNF-DNF, 28.

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