USA. 18′ Skiff International Regatta: Hamlin takes lead; Paul Cayard checks in on the action

SAN FRANCISCO—Anytime Paul Cayard gets homesick for sailing a Volvo 70 on the edge in the Southern Ocean he can step out for a similar rush on an 18-foot skiff on his hometown San Francisco Bay.

“I actually did sail one of these here back in ’79 or ’80,” Cayard said as he chatted with competitors on Crissy Field after Day 2 of the 18′ Skiff International Regatta. “It was wild.”

Cayard stopped by at the prodding of his son Danny, 16, currently a youth sailor who like most competitors his age is more attracted to the wild side of sailing than to the sedate Star keelboats his father has sailed most of his life.

That’s the direction a teenage peer, Samuel (Shark) Kahn, 17, has taken, not only with his Olympic aspirations in the 49er skiff but early success in the 18s, where he swapped first-place finishes with veteran Howard Hamlin Wednesday on another blustery day on the Bay.

Hamlin, from Long Beach, Calif., won the first race and followed Kahn in the second race for a 1-2 day that moved him past Australia’s John Winning (2-3) into first place overall with four races remaining. Hamlin has eight points, Winning nine, and Kahn is right there with 10 after discarding an earlier fifth place when the first of two discards kicked in Thursday.

Friday’s action includes the 6 o’clock Bridge to Bridge classic—five miles from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge, with a flock of windsurfers and kite boarders joining the fun. The 18s will tune up with one of their usual nine-mile buoy races at 4 p.m., three times around a 1 1/2-mile long windward-leeward course along the bay front.

Two boats will be sailing with their 10-foot-long bowsprits repaired or replaced. Grant Rollerson’s DeLonghi and Peter Barton’s West Marine both limped back to the beach during the second race after their extensions snapped.

If the brisk winds continue—during Thursday’s racing it peaked at 32 knots near Angel Island on the north side of the course and 24 at the leeward mark—the Bridge to Bridge should be a spectacle.

Kahn’s Pegasus Black craft had capsized three times in the first two days but Paul Allen, Kahn’s forward crew, figured they’ve now found the secret to success.

“Keeping this big black stick in the air,” he said, referring to the mast. “Once you get in the lead, if you stay upright you usually stay there.”

Kahn followed Hamlin and Winning in the first race but blew off the starting line in the second, soon tacked to cross the fleet on port tack and never looked back. Allen, who trims the spinnaker, played a key role.

“Downwind you really feel the pressure of the spinnaker,” he said. “You’re the throttle guy. If it gets scary I pull the kite in to stall it and that slows the boat down a little bit. It feels like your arms have been pulled off by the end of the day, but I like being up front. It’s a good view from up there.”

Hamlin had his own “18 moment.” After running away to finish 2 minutes 12 seconds ahead of Winning in the first race, he had to scramble for second place in the second race.

“We had a nuclear puff on the second [downwind] run and just blew by people,” he said. I was doing something I’d never done before: holding the tiller with two hands.”

Almost like the Southern Ocean.

This is one of the class’s three major events each year, along with the JJ Giltinan World Trophy Championship in Sydney and the European champion held last June on Lake Garda in Italy.

U.S. yacht wins final regatta leg

Published: June 18, 2006

GOTEBORG, Sweden The U.S. yacht Pirates of the Caribbean won the ninth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday, while the Dutch entry ABN AMRO One took overall honors for the grueling around-the-world regatta.

The No. 1 Dutch yacht, skippered by Mike Sanderson, was last in the six- yacht fleet in the ninth leg, but won the 58,000-kilometer, or 36,000-mile, race with a total of 96 points.

“This has been a great run for ABN AMRO,” Sanderson said. “This is a rock-solid team.”

His crew celebrated by throwing Sanderson overboard.

The Pirates finished second over all with 73, while Brasil 1 was third in the leg and third over all.

In Saturday’s race, skipper Paul Cayard’s Pirates edged the second-placed ABN AMRO Two by 4 minutes, 50 seconds. The No. 2 Dutch boat came fourth over all with 58.5 points.

“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood,” Cayard, 46, said of the close finish.

For Simon Fisher, the 28-year-old navigator aboard ABN AMRO Two, it was a bittersweet end to the ocean odyssey.

“We were feeling pretty confident until the wind ran out,” he said. “It would have been sweet, actually winning a leg, but we were unlucky.”

The race started off at Vigo, Spain, in November and has been marked by the death of a sailor and the dramatic rescue of the 10-man crew of the sinking entry Movistar of Spain.

The last leg was a 925-kilometer dash from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to this southern Swedish port.

Hundreds of small boats crowded the waters off Sweden’s second-largest city, while thousands – including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia – gathered in bright sunshine to cheer the yachts from shore.

GOTEBORG, Sweden The U.S. yacht Pirates of the Caribbean won the ninth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday, while the Dutch entry ABN AMRO One took overall honors for the grueling around-the-world regatta.

The No. 1 Dutch yacht, skippered by Mike Sanderson, was last in the six- yacht fleet in the ninth leg, but won the 58,000-kilometer, or 36,000-mile, race with a total of 96 points.

“This has been a great run for ABN AMRO,” Sanderson said. “This is a rock-solid team.”

His crew celebrated by throwing Sanderson overboard.

The Pirates finished second over all with 73, while Brasil 1 was third in the leg and third over all.

In Saturday’s race, skipper Paul Cayard’s Pirates edged the second-placed ABN AMRO Two by 4 minutes, 50 seconds. The No. 2 Dutch boat came fourth over all with 58.5 points.

“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood,” Cayard, 46, said of the close finish.

For Simon Fisher, the 28-year-old navigator aboard ABN AMRO Two, it was a bittersweet end to the ocean odyssey.

“We were feeling pretty confident until the wind ran out,” he said. “It would have been sweet, actually winning a leg, but we were unlucky.”

The race started off at Vigo, Spain, in November and has been marked by the death of a sailor and the dramatic rescue of the 10-man crew of the sinking entry Movistar of Spain.

The last leg was a 925-kilometer dash from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to this southern Swedish port.

Hundreds of small boats crowded the waters off Sweden’s second-largest city, while thousands – including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia – gathered in bright sunshine to cheer the yachts from shore.

GOTEBORG, Sweden The U.S. yacht Pirates of the Caribbean won the ninth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday, while the Dutch entry ABN AMRO One took overall honors for the grueling around-the-world regatta.

The No. 1 Dutch yacht, skippered by Mike Sanderson, was last in the six- yacht fleet in the ninth leg, but won the 58,000-kilometer, or 36,000-mile, race with a total of 96 points.

“This has been a great run for ABN AMRO,” Sanderson said. “This is a rock-solid team.”

His crew celebrated by throwing Sanderson overboard.

The Pirates finished second over all with 73, while Brasil 1 was third in the leg and third over all.

In Saturday’s race, skipper Paul Cayard’s Pirates edged the second-placed ABN AMRO Two by 4 minutes, 50 seconds. The No. 2 Dutch boat came fourth over all with 58.5 points.

“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood,” Cayard, 46, said of the close finish.

For Simon Fisher, the 28-year-old navigator aboard ABN AMRO Two, it was a bittersweet end to the ocean odyssey.

“We were feeling pretty confident until the wind ran out,” he said. “It would have been sweet, actually winning a leg, but we were unlucky.”

The race started off at Vigo, Spain, in November and has been marked by the death of a sailor and the dramatic rescue of the 10-man crew of the sinking entry Movistar of Spain.

The last leg was a 925-kilometer dash from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to this southern Swedish port.

Hundreds of small boats crowded the waters off Sweden’s second-largest city, while thousands – including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia – gathered in bright sunshine to cheer the yachts from shore.

GOTEBORG, Sweden The U.S. yacht Pirates of the Caribbean won the ninth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday, while the Dutch entry ABN AMRO One took overall honors for the grueling around-the-world regatta.

The No. 1 Dutch yacht, skippered by Mike Sanderson, was last in the six- yacht fleet in the ninth leg, but won the 58,000-kilometer, or 36,000-mile, race with a total of 96 points.

“This has been a great run for ABN AMRO,” Sanderson said. “This is a rock-solid team.”

His crew celebrated by throwing Sanderson overboard.

The Pirates finished second over all with 73, while Brasil 1 was third in the leg and third over all.

In Saturday’s race, skipper Paul Cayard’s Pirates edged the second-placed ABN AMRO Two by 4 minutes, 50 seconds. The No. 2 Dutch boat came fourth over all with 58.5 points.

“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood,” Cayard, 46, said of the close finish.

For Simon Fisher, the 28-year-old navigator aboard ABN AMRO Two, it was a bittersweet end to the ocean odyssey.

“We were feeling pretty confident until the wind ran out,” he said. “It would have been sweet, actually winning a leg, but we were unlucky.”

The race started off at Vigo, Spain, in November and has been marked by the death of a sailor and the dramatic rescue of the 10-man crew of the sinking entry Movistar of Spain.

The last leg was a 925-kilometer dash from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to this southern Swedish port.

Hundreds of small boats crowded the waters off Sweden’s second-largest city, while thousands – including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia – gathered in bright sunshine to cheer the yachts from shore.

In the Arena: For ocean race’s leader, the only trouble has been in port

MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006

BALTIMORE The awkward moments for the leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race have been reserved for port.

There was the broken arm that the watch captain, Mark Christensen, suffered when he took a tumble as the crew docked the yacht in Cape Town. There were those two straggling performances during the inshore legs in Sanxenxo, Spain, in November and in Annapolis, Maryland, a week ago.

There was even the opening pitch by the captain, Mike Sanderson, at Tuesday night’s baseball game here at Camden Yards – a pitch that bounced before it crossed the plate, much to the amusement of Oriole fans who would not know their port from their starboard.

But put ABN AMRO One to sea with its wide beam and no-nonsense multinational crew, and there is nothing awkward about it. It has been slicing through the swells and crushing the suspense out of the quadrennial round-the- world Volvo race since the first ocean leg in November, and the Dutch boat without a single Dutch sailor now holds what looks suspiciously like an insurmountable lead over the rest of the fleet, with four of the nine offshore legs including the current one, from Annapolis to New York, still to be settled.

The boat that its crew has dubbed Black Betty has had too many edges: an edge in preparation time; an edge in finances; an edge in boat design; even an edge in boat redesign. It has all been very impressive as they have racked up the points and the nautical miles and the publicity for the Dutch bank that is bankrolling them.

Volvo Ocean Procession does not have nearly the same ring to it, but then that is hardly the leaders’ fault. Who’s to chastise a pleasant, competent bunch of sleep-deprived men with calluses on their calluses for getting the most out of themselves and their cleverly conceived yacht?

“Of course, we are surprised about the gap, but we are over the moon with the gap; long may it continue,” said Sanderson, an unpretentious 34-year- old who looks a few years older at this bleary stage.

The gap stood at 19.5 points heading into the current leg, a Sunday-to-Tuesday sprint. ABN AMRO One could finish in last place in the next two legs – or even skip the next two legs altogether – and still be guaranteed the lead, but none of the chase pack is expecting a sudden disappearing act.

“ABN AMRO One is just clearly in a class to itself in terms of the speed,” the veteran skipper Paul Cayard said as his Pirates of the Caribbean sat in third place. “They aren’t even really racing. They’re just riding on the boat that is going about a knot faster. In all the races I’ve done, there hasn’t been such a big speed discrepancy among the fleet.”

The discrepancy has its roots in the decision to hire Juan Kouyoumdjian, a young Argentine boat designer. The Annapolis-based company of Bruce Farr has long dominated the market for yachts in the Volvo race, formerly known as the Whitbread. Farr or his associates have designed every winner since 1985, and this time, the four other primary contenders turned to Farr again: Movistar, Pirates of the Caribbean, Brasil 1 and Ericsson Racing Team.

But ABN never even negotiated with Farr, choosing to work with Kouyoumdjian, a 34-year-old who made his name designing America’s Cup yachts and who is more commonly known in yachting circles – for obvious reasons – as Juan K.

Clearly, Juan K. got his sums and computer simulations right for the debut race of the Volvo 70 class, with its extra length and canting keel. Clearly, it was a masterly decision to build a surprisingly wide double-rudder boat that was optimized for 11 to 18 knots of wind yet very slow in light winds, as witness its sixth-place finish in Annapolis.

Farr’s people spent some of the Maryland stopover picking over the yachts they had designed to get an idea of what they could have done better. Cayard has his theory. He says Farr and his team miscalculated the point when the stability of a wider hull would begin to outweigh the benefits of a narrower hull, which generates less drag.

“Historically, the average wind speed around the world is 13 knots, and Farr must have thought the narrow boat would be the right beam for 13 knots,” Cayard said. “But in fact, because the sail plan powers the boat up more – probably – than they anticipated, the crossover is not 13 knots. It’s really 11 knots.”

What also helped ABN AMRO was having the time and money to run a two-boat program, the only one this year, so Sanderson and his crew could test the first boat out of the yard for several months and provide major input into how to improve the primary boat, which was still under construction.

The recent winners of the Volvo have usually been two-boat programs, but to limit costs, the race organizers adopted a rule this time that any boat built for the race would have to compete in the race. That dissuaded most of the entrants from building two, but ABN AMRO stuck to the traditional winner’s strategy and elected to use its first boat, nicknamed the White Boat, as a learning experience for young, gifted sailors, primarily in their 20s.

The surprise, after nearly five months of racing, is that the youngsters are in fourth place and just three points behind second-place Movistar, the Spanish-based boat that was one of the pre- race favorites. But Movistar, unlike the ABN boats, nearly sank in the early going because of issues with the new keel.

“We’ve had a lot of the breakages the other teams are having,” Sanderson said. “The difference is that we had a lot of those pre-race.”

ABN’s crew members are clearly sensitive to suggestions that they are simply along for the ride, that their

It is over

Seahorse

August 2006

It is over. As I said in my last article, “a lot can and will happen” between NY and the finish in Gothenberg.

I think what happened was beyond all of our expectations. The very unfortunate loss of Hans Horrevoets and the sinking of movistar were almost too much to take in a 48 hour period. Just as the event was sinking in its most disastrous moment, the kids on ABN2 revived the show with their outstanding seamanship, composure, and compassion. The Portsmouth stopover was naturally a subdued with all that had happened out on the Atlantic. Through it all, everyone kept looking to the “kids” to set the tone and lead the way forward. They made good decisions all the way including the one to continue in the race.

Onboard The Black Pearl, we managed to move solidly into second place overall in Portsmouth, only to antagonize our families and fans during the “Round Great Britain leg” and the Rotterdam In-Port race, allowing Brasil1 to have a shot at us on the last leg. We were managing our lead, playing a conservative hand, but the heat was definitely going up in the kitchen. But in the end, we did what we had to do and even managed to win the last leg to end the “Lap” on a huge high. The number of boats and people awaiting our arrival in Gothenberg was a least twice as big as the two America’s Cup finals that I have been in. For me, it was extra special as my wife is Swedish and my inlaws were all there to welcome us home.

To finish second overall, after being last after the Cape Town In-Port race, and all the struggles we had with the boat, was a very satisfying achievement. Satisfaction is derived by exceeding your expectations, and while we did not win this race, I am every bit as satisfied as I was after winning with EF in 1998. My biggest pleasure was seeing our team, 30 strong, come together over the 12 months. We started as a bunch of individuals and developed into a team. That process is a beautiful thing. I think it is one of the most special things about sport. The intensity of sport matures relationships at a very high rate. People who don’t know each other at all at the beginning of something like this, are life long friends at the end of it. There will always be a special place in my memory for the 30 Pirates who made it all happen.

I stayed in Sweden for 10 days following the Volvo. My sister in law got married and I just hung around with my family. I then went down to Castellon and raced in the TP 52 regatta there with Lexus/Atalanti. Russell Coutts was the helmsman so we had some fun sailing together for the first time. We did not have a good regatta though, finishing 9th out of 21 boats. The bottom line there is that is a very competitive fleet. It is almost one design in terms of the speeds. I would liken it to Star racing more than Farr 40 racing. The boats have some conditions when they exhibit a slight edge but, by and large, any boat can when any race. The regatta leader and race 5 winner, finished 16th in race 6 and dropped 6 places in the standings. Half of the boats are new for this season so that was just the second regatta. All the boats are in the process of improving their performance. We had some issues with upwind speed and getting enough load on the rudder. So we played with the rake and rig set up and made some small improvements. There is a lot to be learned there and lots of potential for every boat in the fleet. Whoever puts the time in will reap the benefits.

Last week, I went to Cascade Locks on the Columbia River (Oregon) with my son and his crew Max. He was sailing his 29er there and 49ers were also racing. That is a fantastic place to sail. 15-20 knots of wind every day, flat and fresh water, good camping, inexpensive and generally a relaxed atmosphere. I was the guy in charge of buying the beer, getting is chilled down, getting the pistachios, chips and salsa, and having it all ready when the boats hit the shore. I had our pickup truck backed up to the levy, tailgate down, cooler out in front, extra chairs laid out when the guys and gals came ashore. I really enjoyed having a couple of cold ones, listening to everyone talk about the races that day and just relaxing at a regatta. I also went kite boarding for the first time. Damn, I wish I had discovered that 20 years ago. But, “never too late”, and “nothing like the present” so I am into it. But, I also like the 49ers. I could see getting one myself.

Maybe.

This weekend I am sailing my new Star, for the first time, in Santa Barbara for the Lipton Cup. There is a Lipton Cup in every club it seems, but this is the REAL Lipton Cup. Austin Sperry, who with John Dane, has won the Bacardi Cup, the North Americans, and a few other events this year, is coming out to tune me up. I need it.

I thought the plan was to relax after the Volvo! It could be so easy to get too much on my plate again. 49er, kite boarding, TP 52, Star Worlds in San Francisco in September, and I need to get back to my flying. I am concerned that I just never seem to learn.

Paul Cayard