The Winnings are, well, winning again, and the 18s ruled the waves of San Francisco Bay in Thursday's traditional Bridge to Bridge Race run in conjunction with the eighth annual 18' Skiff International Regatta, both hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.
As a brisk breeze abandoned the kiteboarders, John (Woody) Winning's Yandoo came from behind to seize first place overall in 19 minutes 54 seconds, followed by son Herman Winning's Appliances Online 38 seconds later, Micah Lane's Macquarie Group in fourth place and regatta leader Howie Hamlin's Harken in sixth.
Frank Wittke of France was third overall and the first kiteboard to finish the 7 1/2-mile downwind charge from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge, which about two hours later was due to close to traffic for five days to replace a 300-foot section of the two-level span between San Francisco and the east side of the bay.
There was a new class of entry: ocean racing keelboat, consisting only of Chris Welsh's legendary Ragtime, a 45-year-old wooden Spencer 65 from Newport Beach, Calif., that within the past year was overall winner of the race from Los Angeles to Tahiti and won its division of the Sydney-Hobart Race. It is in town for the annual Big Boat Regatta later this month. Ragtime finished 16th overall in 28 minutes 4 seconds.
“I thought the race was to bring your best and go for it,” Welsh said happily. “It was great. We hit 18 knots in flat water, and we passed all the kites when the wind died.”
For the 18s, the race counted as the eighth of 10 in the regatta, which winds up with the last two races Friday. Until Hamlin won it last year, no 18 had finished first overall.
After a bad day with a big rig Wednesday, John Winning's success moved him back to within one point of Hamlin, while Herman Winning's second place, coupled with his runaway victory in the regular 18s race Thursday, has him in third place, one point ahead of Lane.
Oddly, John Winning didn't realize he had won the Bridge to Bridge overall until told so in the boat park back at Crissy Field.
“I thought there must have been some of those kites that had already finished,” he said.
Apparently, he and his crew of David Gibson and Andrew Hay were too busy hanging onto the edge while skipping over the opposing ebb tide in winds of 20 knots gusting to 28. At one point they were unofficially clocked by a pursuing photo boat at 25 knots.
Their strategy was to sail closest to the City Front while most of the 18s followed a course farther out past Alcatraz and Herman Winning took a middle route in between.
“We started right at the red [south] buoy and went the whole way with two jibes,” Winning said. “The ones that went the other way stayed on the same jibe the whole way.”
A handful of kites led the away until turning the corner, where the wind dropped steadily to 5 knots at the finish—OK for 18s but deadly for kites. It seemed like an invisible hand swatting flies as one kite after another settled helplessly on the water.
There were 59 competitors overall. Only seven of 30 kites finished while 10 of 14 Formula Boards reached the Bay Bridge. The 18s had six finishers.
Complete 18 Skiff results
(after 8 of 10 races; one discard)
1. Harken, Howard Hamlin/Paul Allen/Matt Noble, Long Beach, Calif., (5)-1-3-2-1-3-2-4, 16 points.
2. Yandoo, John Winning/David Gibson/Andrew Day, Australia, 1-3-5-1-3-(9)-3-1, 17.
3. Appliancesonline, Herman Winning/Tim Austin/David Ewings, Australia, 4-2-1-(6)-6-6-1-2, 22.
4. 24hrRoadService, Trevor Barnabas/Aaron Links/Daniel Phillips, Australia, 3-(6)-2-3-4-1-5-5, 23.
5. Macquarie Group, Micah Lane/Jack Macartney/Peter Harris, Australia, 6-7-8-4-5-2-4-3, 31.
6. Asko/Gill, Archie Massey/Simon Noarne/Dan Wilsdon, Australia, 2-5-10-7-2-11-6-(DNF), 43.
7. Slam, Grant Rollerson/Fang Warren/Ris Cleary, Australia, (8)-4-4-5-(DNF)-5-DNF-DNF, 54.
8. Harken Blue, Joey Pasquali/Rory Giffen/Kevin Richards, Santa Cruz, Calif., 9-(DNF)-DNF-9-7-7-DNF-6, 66.
9. Panasonic Viera, John Whitty/Dan Higlett/Harry Bethwaite, Australia, (DNF)-10-DNF-8-10-4-7-DNF, 67.
10. Skiff Foundation Blue, David Rasmussen/John Gray/Dan Morris, San Francisco, 10-9-7-10-9-8-(DNF)-DNF, 67.
11. Spot Satellite/Toyota Messenger, Dan Brandt/Cooper Dressler/Danny Cayard, San Francisco, 7-8-6-(DNF)-11-DNF-DNF-DNF-DNF-DNF, 71.
12. Skiff Foundation Red, Ty Reed/Dan Malpas/JV Gilmour, San Francisco, (DNF)-DNF-9-DNF-8-10-8-DNF, 77.
13. Skiff Foundation White, Chad Freitas/Mark Breen, San Francisco, 11-11-(DNF)-DNF-DNF-DNF-DNF-DNF, 92.