As the morning dock off time closed in on Sundays Bay Tour Finale, the previous evening's festivities at the St Francis still lingered in the minds and souls of the multitude of Kiwi sailors participating in the inaugural PAC52 Cup. The countries All Blacks rugby team was on the video screen in a match vs Argentina on Saturday Night, and if there is one thing the Kiwis love more than sailing, it's rugby. And beer. Mix the three together, and you have a happy lot that can party on all night yet rise to the occasion the following day.
The Noon start off Alcatraz for Sunday's final race of this series was greeted with brisk winds and again, heaps of legendary San Francisco sunshine. On the line, was the grudge match between BadPak and Invisible Hand for the regatta tie 2nd place breaker, Beau Geste's seeking redemption for failing to keep their string of bullets intact, and for other boats, finishing the season strong with hopes of also upsetting Beau's string of success. To become the best, one must beat the best.
Also on the line was the RC's flag ship, WL Stewart's anchor rode. When the starting gun fired the fleet of 6 saw Rio and Beau fighting for the pin end of the line and The Hand, Gladiator, BadPak and FOX choosing the committee boat end. It was a nice clean start for all, with one exception. FOX had won the RC end with clean air and promise for a great start until things ground to a quick halt, with the committee boat in tow. Remarkably, they quickly doused the headsail, backed down and were back up and running in short order. It's a distance race, still time to recover!
The course d'jour, # 48, would lead the fleet out the gate to Point Diablo, (or Punta Diablo for our Spanish speaking audience members) back in the gate and east past Alcatraz to the green 1 mark, back up hill to Blackaller, set the kites and blast down to the red 4 mark, then climb back up to a drop mark by Blackaller, then a short downhill blast to finish in front of the club in grand style. 18 or so awesome miles on an awesome autumn afternoon with the San Francisco Bay providing the goods, just like the brochure promised!
Gladiator led BadPak around the Point Diablo mark with Beau in hot pursuit, and by the time they reentered the bay, Beau had magically found another gear and pushed ahead. The Hand and Rio not far behind, and FOX, undeterred, making up lost time with no quit.
The Boats spread out across the central bay in 15 to 18 knots of wind, but fell back in line for the leeward mark approach then spread back out headed backup hill. Beau reached the 2nd windward mark with a 20 second delta on Gladiator then BadPak and The then RIO not far behind, with FOX closing their gap even further.
Another fun blast east this time east of Blunt saw the fleet compress at the bottom again, with The Hand having gained on BadPak only to hand it back with a bad gybe. "We really gave it to them at that point" Frank Slootman said after the race "Sometimes you just beat yourself, but that's yacht racing, isn't it?
The Fleet mostly went right for the final uphill climb aside from FOX, with nothing to lose, why not take a flyer and see if lady luck is on your side. And damn if it didn't almost pay off. They shaved of even more time and arrived at the final windward mark a short distance behind The Hand.
Beau finished the day and the regatta in 1st with 6 bullets and a deuce for a total of 8. Tom Holthus's BadPak managed to hold off Frank Slootman's Invisible Hand for the regatta, with 24 points vs 25points, and the British team, Tony Langley's Gladiator in 4th with 26 points. Manouch Moshayedi's Rio in 5th, sailed the last two days without their boss on board, the tweaked lower back keeping him shore side, with eyes glued to the race track. Victor Wilds FOX showed resilience and fought the good fight throughout the regatta and will continue to get stronger with each passing regatta.
The PAC 52 Season series title was claimed by Tom Holthus's BadPak , and was celebrated dockside at the end of racing today with a surprise champagne shower by crew, ending a remarkable regatta, and season for the class and it's members. Prior to the Rugby party last night, the owners sat down for their annual meeting and make plans for the future and assess the past. They all commended class president Julie Servais and with a vote of confidence extended her leadership for the next season.
The boats will ship south in the following days and set up for the 2018 season, with some additional events to be added for the fleet to compete in. A revised schedule will appear soon at www.pac52class.com