Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 King of the Bay - Mike Holt

Over the last weekend, May 5/6 a strong fleet of 17 505's descended on St Francis Yacht Club for the annual King of the Bay event. This time run as part of the Elvstrom/Zellerbach regatta.
The fleet assembled was a truly impressive one, multiple World Champions and we added up 25 wins at the North American Championship combined. The KOTB is sailed every year on the Bay at a time of the year when the wind is fresh and the conditions testing. Bragging rights for top West Coast heavy weather sailor are tied down for a year and boats and crews are tested to the limit. This year did not disappoint in any way. The breeze turned up, as did the waves on the afternoon ebb tide and somewhat unusually sunny and warm weather graced us with its presence! The racing was expertly run by the StFYC team, led by Tony Chargin as the PRO and the countless amazing people out helping him, lay marks, pull flags and rescue sailors when needed. It is easy to forget the assistance all these people bring and racing in the Bay just would not be possible without it, so many thanks from all of us to them.
So, the racing, what you have come here to read about, right. We had three races each day, following a pretty typical pattern, starting light and building to strong as the day goes along and the heat builds up inland. Race one got away in 10-12 knots slowly building and the flood tide still running. Meaning a longer beat and a tough layline call. Howie and Andy nailed it and led from start to finish in a short, sharp two lap race. Mike and Jeff followed on their heels in 2nd and Mike and Carl nipping at theirs in 3rd. Race two was next up and now 3 laps, the tide was starting to turn and getting the right side of tide lines was critical, a bit of boat speed to get you there was handy too. Mike/Jeff had that to lead at the top chased by Mike/Carl, Howie/Andy and Augie and Fritz. Up the second beat Jeff allegedly somewhat out of practice paused to splash around a little letting Carl and I through into the lead. Not wanting to waste the opportunity we pushed on to win from Mike/Jeff with Augie/Fritz taking 3rd. Race 3 saw the ebb running hard and the breeze in full effect. A bay ebb chop was also building and clearly showing where the current was strongest! Mike/Jeff again lead the way, but Carl and I were able to pass on the first down wind and hold them off for the next two laps. Unfortunately for the race and as it turned out the series we could not close this one out, taking a swim yards from the finish. Mike/Jeff obviously laughing too hard at our splash, over stood the finish letting Howie/Andy through for the bullet. Mike/Jeff got 2nd and we crossed the line in 3rd with the spinnaker wrapped around the spreaders... All in all a great day of racing and tight throughout the fleet with many close finishes.
As ever, after racing StFYC fed and watered us with cold beer and chili, much needed after a good day on the water. 
Sunday opened much like Saturday, warm, sunny and no breeze. But after an hour or so wait a good breeze again filled in and we were treated to 3 more superb races. Race 4 was very much a deja vu for us. Mike and Jeff sailing away leaving us all to watch and wonder how the hell they do it. We finished 2nd with Augie/Fritz in close contact in 3rd. Race 5 and the ebb starting to run lead to a general recall and when we finally get away I will forever have the image of Hubert and Xavier screaming off the line, putting the big lever to full effect. After the spray cleared from that Mike and Jeff again lead from Carl and I with all the usual suspects in close attention and some more very close finishing. So, into the last race and ho hum very boring Mike and Jeff.... But wait, they get the final run wrong, wiring out to the right while behind we all gybe set for current relief. As we come back together we are ahead and Mike/Jeff are neck and neck with Howie/Andy, just managing to cling to 2nd on the line to win the crown by one point. 
Congratulations to Mike and Jeff who despite the one point win really dominated upwind and a big thanks to everyone for making the event and having one of the strongest turnouts for a West Coast event in a non Worlds year for a long time. Particularly to Augie and Tyler for making the trip from the East Coast. Those of you that did not make it, what can I say, you missed a good one!
Next up is Santa Barbara May 19/20 where it seems we will also have plenty of boats racing.

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