San Francisco, Ca
June 15-16, 2014
San Francisco Yacht Club hosted the inaugural Multihull Regatta on June 15th and 16th. Fifteen boats signed up and were greeted with winds gusting to 26-kts at the committee boat. Just to keep things interesting, the SF Bay tossed in a few extra knots of breeze at the windward mark. The result: almost everyone got spanked.
Things got off to a roaring start. “Alex van Brunt got a big jump on the fleet and never looked back,” said Charles Froeb, a SFYC member who drives the black Wildcat “Kaos vs Control.”
“The weekend was awesome,” said the youngest F18 skipper Ben Brown. Brown started crewing on cats at 9-years-old and started helming at 12. Now, at 17-years old, Brown has extensive cat experience with overtones of fearlessness and undertones of wisdom. In short, he’s so good it’s sick.
The climax of the regatta was Race 3, the final race on Saturday. Winds were gusting over 26-knots and the waves were building. Brown and his crew, 17-year old Andrew Wilkenson, had the most fun in those borderline “insane” conditions.
“Roundings were pretty scary, as they normally are in over 25-kts,”said Brown. “We tipped twice on the first downwind leg, but once all the other cats abandoned the race, we took it easy and didn’t push our boat. But we still put the kite up–because it’s more fun that way.”
Brown made his way around the course and was the only F18 to finish the race. It was a wild ride and a hard-earned bullet. While Brown/Wilkenson were drenched, they were still laughing and joking around. Kids these days!
“Frank and I ‘wisely’ sailed straight in after seeing the wind and sea state two minutes into the first leg of Race 3,” said Alex van Brunt who took 2nd place overall. Froeb agreed. After flipping twice Froeb said: “we were getting a little cold and decided that it would be wiser not risk injury to us or the boat and head for the sunny SFYC harbor.”
Jose Castello, crew on Water Bison, had one word for Race 3: “mayhem.”
“It looked more like a swim meet on Saturday afternoon than a regatta,” said Greg Retkowski who crewed on This Side Up, a Nacra Infusion. Retkowski was referring to the fact that every F18, except for two, capsized on Saturday. Brown took top capsize honors with three dunks, followed by Charles Froeb with two swims. But they both made it to the podium proving that upside-down isn’t always slow.
“SFYC Mai Tais are a terrific remedy for a challenging day on the water,” said F18 Fleet Captain Phillip Meredith once all sailors were enjoying their libations on the sun-drenched dock at the yacht club. Always choosing safety first, the F18 fleet decided to add wind limits to future fleet races, so racers wouldn’t feel pressured into making poor choices in bad weather.
After a weekend of unbelievable racing, Charles Froeb dominated the fleet and earned first place over the nine F18s registered for the event. His crew on Saturday was Jody McCormack, an Aussie 18’ skiff sailor, that easily adapted to the more stable F18.
Froeb said:“I would do a pre-start maneuver and Jody would caution, ‘If you had done that on a skiff, we wouldn’t have survived.’” Stable is a relative term in sailing–Froeb/McCormack capsized twice on Race 3.
Jim Johnstone, Froeb’s regular crew, relieved Jody on Sunday. “The conditions were near ideal on the final day of racing,” said skipper Froeb. “Flat water and 10-15 kts; easy double-trapping weather and controlled spin reaching off the wind.”
“Race 5 was an absolute blast, with ideal conditions for racing the F18,” said Nick Grebe, who is the newest talent in the F18 fleet on his Hobie Tiger Evil Octopus.
Cherie Sogsti, who has been helming an F18 for less than a year, was the only female F18 skipper and earned herself a solid 4th place finish with her husband Greg Retkowski pulling all the ropes. “It’s so much fun I can’t stop smiling,” said Sogsti. “We joined the F18 fleet because we wanted to be apart of an active and exciting fleet. My husband and I got what we signed up for, and so much more.”
Michelle Farabaugh, SFYC Race Council Chair, and Forrest Gay, SFYC Director of Sailing hatched the idea to have an annual SFYC Multihull event. Next year they hope to expand the event and double the participation.