A warm fall morning greeted the San Francisco Bay on Sunday, with light easterlies, balmy temps and glorious sunshine. The easterly provided crews a lengthy siesta for the final day of the 2018 PAC52 Cup, and the last race of the year for the 2018 PAC52 5 stop series. Entering in to the day RIO had claimed 4 bullets in the previous 5 races, with a total of 8 points, The Hand lay in 2nd with 12, BadPak had the only other bullet and a total of 15 with Interlodge holding 20 points, 5 of them SCP baggage due to owner driver rule and the one-point penalty assessed per race. (Brad Rodi stepped in for series for owners Gwen and Austin Fragomen).
In the big picture, with the season championships on the line, Invisible Hand had won 2 of the prior events and tying a 3rd, for a total of 78 points. In 2nd, with an even 100 points, despite a bundle of SCP’s, Interlodge, had one regatta victory and a tie. RIO entered the day with 110 points total and last year’s season champions, BadPak with 120.
All numbers crunched and just two races to go, Invisible Hand had to just finish the final two races to win the overall championship, and had little to lose if they decided to get a little sporty on the course. When the boats finally pushed off the dock just after noon, a cool westerly had filled in across the race track, 12-13 knots and flat seas.
When the boats entered the box for the start of race 6, a 7.0 nm course 23, The Hand was ready to play spoiler and wanted to make regatta leader RIO earn their 1st regatta victory of the year. “We had wiggle room and figured we would have some fun with it” commented Invisible Hand’s Frank Slootman “We took RIO into the point at the start and forced them into a 360 straight off”.
The effort worked for a short while, and the unfettered Interlodge and BadPak benefitted greatly, rounding the weather mark in clean fashion with The Hand and RIO trailing.
The pressure had increased by 5-7 knots on the 1st leg and the boat blasted downhill in a flourish. RIO would break from the fleet and take a southerly route to the mark 1 mile east of Alcatraz, and the other 3 would take the north side. When the leeward merge occurred, The Hand had outpaced the fleet arriving 1st, Interlodge in 2nd, BadPak in 3rd and RIO 4th, but with a much smaller gap. During the next upwind beat, Invisible Hand would continue it match race covering of RIO and arriving 1st at the weather mark, would luff RIO up in an attempt to allow the other boats inside.
“ We thought we had them right were we wanted” Frank would later say “ But Manouch is a slippery sailor, ad the whole thing backfired” RIO would escape and lead the charge downhill for another Hollywood finish and their 5th Bullet of the regatta, with Interlodge and The Hand, in a photo finish with The Hand claiming 2nd by inches!
For the Finale, Race 7, a repeat course 23, the boats started clean in 20 plus knots, and Interlodge would find another gear and assume the lead from the 1st beat onward. With plenty of space, Interlodge would continue to build on their lead past the 1st weather mark, accelerating ahead of The Hand, RIO and BadPak in a route, taking their 1st bullet of the regatta, yet score a deuce with the SCP as per class rules.
Back at the dock, the skippers and crews of boats would exchange pleasantries and congratulate one another on the season well done, carry the sails one final time back to the trailers and exchange plans for the near future. The big winners for the day, Frank Slootman and tactician Gavin Brady would have a laugh filled discussion with Manouch Moshayedi and tactician Mike Menninger on the day’s shenanigans, the regatta and the season. “It’s just been fantastic sailing here this year regardless of the results” Manouch would comment” San Francisco Bay is the ultimate place to race these boats, we can’t wait to come back again!”
With the 2018 season a wrap, most boats will pack up and ship to SoCal for a well deserved rest before reconvening at the San Diego Yacht Club for the Midwinters.