2018 US Sailing Multihull Championships Race Report - Jonathan Weston

April 23rd, 2018

Wednesday, April 18
Randy’s Clinic

This was the clinic Randy Smythe has traditionally offered to sailors wishing to hone their skills (before he put on the clinic to all sailors in the championships). Beginning with a dry land chalk talk covering a variety of topics including sail trim, boat trim and tactics, the participating sailors then took to the water to undergo a series of practice starts and drills. As witnessed from Randy’s boat, the sailors began judging they were on the starting line, raising their hand when to signify. In reality, most were a good 10-20 yards behind. As the drills proceeded, the fleet grew tighter and tighter, showing vast improvements in this area, as well as navigating laylines. It was a good investment by all, as the regatta starting lines were tightly packed as should be.

FWYC Fun Race

Traditionally, Weta sailors have joined in on this fun sprint across the bay and back as a warm-up and gear shake down. Sunny skies and moderate winds set the tone for the frivolity. Richard Stephens got off to a head start with Dave Berntsen hot on his heels. Then along came screeching the sprite high school daughter of Cliff Farrah, Cam Farrah, right over the top of me and a few others. Donuts (moi) decided to return the favor, and found the new boat chartered to be quite hot and lively, passing all boats to the turning mark. Heading back upwind, Richard Stephens proved that old yellow boats do matter, and passed Weston upwind, with Cam and Weston both crossing whatever finish line was imagined, let’s say at the same time. Pops Farrah and all the other boats racing headed quickly to the bar.

Day One, Thursday, April 19

The sea breeze kick in and built steadily throughout the day, giving us four great races to kick off the serious, though still absolutely fun portion of the regatta.

Race 1 – 10 knots (1 undone)

Mike Krantz (Lake Lanier, GA) picked up right where he left off, winning Wetafest and Nationals 2015, and the first race of the 2018 US Multihull Championships. His recipe? Mid –line starts, clean air, and great speed. Randy Smythe (Fort Walton Beach, FL) was the faster upwind, but couldn’t lock into Mike’s vapors downwind. Heated up! Bob Hodges (Lake Pontchatrain, LA) crossed third, with Carey Jones (No Idea) taking advantage of Weston’s kite knot kerfuffle to cross 4th, with Keith Rice (Cornell, NY) in 5th.

Race 2 – 15 knots

Dave Berntsen from San Fran got the clean start on this one and stretched his wings, showing how to SF Bay Area bros work the boat in the breeze. Randy again proving fast upwind, not so much down, handing Mike the runner up spot. Bob Hodges hanging in there in fourth, with Weston coming back from a horrible start to grab fifth.

Race 3 -   16 knots

Krantz, Hodges, Smythe, Weston, Berntsen. It was pretty much how the race ended, but not how it began. The big gains and reversals of fortune were on the right side of the course as the sea breeze clocked around. Time to take notice.

Race 4  - 18 knots

With the Heavy Weta clinic being presented on by Weston and Berntsen that night, it was time to put one on the water, as the breeze kicked up a heel. Weston heads to the right side with a good lead, which turns wrong. Berntsen rounds first, Smythe second, Weston third. Weston passes Smythe downwind. Berntsen, Weston, Smythe, Krantz, Hodges.

At the end of the day (true end, not the expression), Krantz leads followed, by Berntsen, Smythe, Hodges, Weston.

Day Two, Friday, April 20

The skies are still sunny but the wind backs off to 5-8, with the wind coming from one direction, then dying to reset for another. The sea breeze forecasted never made a showing. This made for much tighter racing than the day prior. Sneeze and you fell in the toilet.

Race 5 – 5 knots

Smythe shows he knows his home waters and gets off the line with good speed. Weston, perhaps catching a good draft, decides wisely to follow the master in his home waters around the shortened course. Meanwhile, disaster strikes for both Krantz at the pin end, and Berntsen buried at the start. Keith Rice introduces himself to the light air mix and places third. Mr. Consistency, Bob Hodges, crossed in fourth by I don’t know in fifth. Probably Richard Stephens. A 12th for Berntsen and yikes, 20th for Krantz, proving human after all.

Race 6 – Lot of boats over early on this one, with the light sea breeze coming in hard to the right. A good start and clear air not rewarded to the absolute wrong side or middle. Those over early or tacking early, including Linda Wright, shared big dividends. But light air lake masters Krantz, Rice, and Stephens took the top spots. Smythe 4th, I dunno on 5th.

Race 7 – More light air and big holes in the wind to sail into and drink. Smythe says enough of this with Hodges drafting and pull away. Carey Jones gets in on the action with a third. Whoever got lucky on the big header train going downwind in fourth and fifth. Cam Farrah right in there and Dad as well, till she rolled right over him.

Not much has changed at the end of this day, except for Berntsen falling off the map in the light air. Rice leapfrogs Weston into 4th.

Day Three, Saturday, April 21

The breeze is back. The Hot Donutz sign is lit. Heading out to the race course, it hits 20, but by the first leg, it began to expire, gradually dying until after three races are completed, the bay goes full flat tire. All boats are towed in. Too bad for Randy, Bob, and Cam Farrah, who would have all benefited from a shortened course.

Race 8 – 16 dropping to 9 knots

Weston and Smythe neck and neck at the top mark, with Smythe having trouble raising his kite (kite dropping advantage nixed). Berntsen, back on his game, passes Weston downwind. Krantz passes Weston on the second downwind leg as the wind drops, keeping his boat heated up while Weston tries to soak it across the line. Hodges right behind, with Smythe taking his throwout, a 5th!

Race 9 – 8–5 knots

A tough race getting through the slop, with slopmaster Krantz gaining points back on Smythe, who finishes second. Weston does well upwind but can’t hold of Hodges and Berntsen on the down low.

Race 10 ­– 6 knots

The skies are getting grey with the impending storm. Hard to keep up with these boys in this breeze while still getting hammered back by chop from the wind that failed to deliver on our end. Smythe, Krantz, Rice, Weston… but Hodges cracks finally with a 10th.

End of the day, Smythe leads Krantz by one point. Hodges leads Weston by 4 with Rice right in the scoop 3 more points behind. The stage is set for the big breeze promises on SuperWeta Sunday.

Day Four, Saturday, April 22

The wind is epic, 15-20. This would be a light air day for San Francisco sailors, now chomping at the bit. RC convenes with local weather “experts” and decides to cancel racing at 8am due to thunderstorms moving toward the race course from 60 miles away.

Reasons given were liability and not enough rescue boats. Not enough rescue boats, for a major US Sailing championship – could not even wait to see if lightning strikes were in the area. But, a great race committee otherwise; and understanding (sort of, in between head shakes, watching a Sunfish rip around the bay), that the Fairhope YC tragedy, which resulted in a big lawsuit or two against that yacht club, set a precedence for hyper–safety precautions.

Still 10 races is nothing to shake a stick at, much less a head, and to win a major championship a sailor must be great in all conditions. Randy Smythe, Mike Krantz, and Bob Hodges proved this over the course of the regatta, enough and beyond to wear championship medals around their sunburned necks.

By Jonathan Weston

  • Categories

Wētā Owners

We’d love to hear from you. Send us your stories and photos.

Contact Wētā