San Francisco, CA (September 29, 2016) – Mother Nature had some surprises in store for the 68 boats that assembled on the Berkeley Circle for the third day of racing at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds, hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club.
Split personality conditions tested each boat’s light- and heavy-air skills, as well as their patience as conditions played tricks on racers and the Race Committee alike. While the breeze varied, consistency proved its importance as several teams stayed fast, irrespective of the breeze and its meandering moods.
The two teams to do that best, Claudia Rossi’s Petite Terrible (ITA 853) and Joel Ronning’s Catapult (USA 187) – now hold the top two positions.
Winds of 5-10 knots and a flood tide awaited sailors as they began the downwind run to the Berkeley Circle, which is located some 7 nautical miles northeast of St. Francis Yacht Club. With a stronger left-hand component to the breeze than previous days, the Race Committee set the windward mark due east from Alcatraz Island, allowing boats to catch a fast, tide-powered ride to the leeward gate.
The procession was lead by Ronning’s Catapult, with hometown hero John Kostecki calling tactics. The breeze slowly built as the fleet swapped their kites for their headsails and Trey Sheehan’s Hooligan: Flat Stanley (USA 389) and Jack Franco’s 3 Ball JT (USA 3) hotly pursued Catapult.
Fast forward to the finishing line, and Catapult strutted to a clean win sailing wing-on-wing, followed by Hooligan: Flat Stanley and Rossi’s always-fast Petite Terrible. “It felt great to get in a fairly light-air race,” said Ronning, immediately ex post facto. “I’ve got a fabulous crew, and they knew what to do! I listened to [Kostecki], and we kept the boat going fast.”
While Ronning made his win sound simple, there was nothing straightforward about what unfurled next. The Race Committee started their countdowns for race two, the starting gun sounded, the boats launched off into gathering airs before popping their kites at the offset mark, and—with Jud Smith’s Africa (USA 179), Catapult, and Petite Terrible hammering for the leeward gate—the race was abandoned due to a course that was no longer square to the wind. – Read on