Corsair 24: Multiplying on the Bay
Corsair 24: Multiplying on the Bay
All the hoopla surrounding the 34th America's Cup has San Francisco Bay's multihull community electrified. From the January/February 2013 issue of Sailing World.
Rafi Yahalom’s new Corsair Sprint 750 accelerates around the first windward mark with a sizeable lead. The starboard ama of Lookin’ Good flys over the water as the crew eases the sails. Yahalom turns down to a reach; we hoist the screecher, furl up the jib, and take off at 14 knots.
“Do you like the color of the screecher?” Yahalom yells over the wind in his thick Middle Eastern accent, the red earflaps of his fleece-lined cap dancing in the breeze. “My daughter and granddaughter picked them out.”
Before I have a chance to comment on the bright purple and orange hues, Yahalom’s slightly frazzled crew Chris Harvey interjects, “Rafi, all you care about is looking good—I’ve got to help you actually race.”
“It’s true,” Yahalom admits. “Hey, that’s even the name of my boat!”
The discussion is tabled for the moment, but it’s already too late. Perennial multihull champion Ross Stein, on the Corsair 24 Origami, is barreling toward us, sailing lower angles, faster, with his spinnaker flying. Having won all four of the previous day’s races at the Sperry Top-Sider San Francisco NOOD as a fill-in crew for Stein, I was looking forward to giving him a taste of his own medicine, but Lookin’ Good isn’t up to speed. Stein is an expert at reaching to get the boat on a plane, then soaking low with the waves, which opens up wide passing lanes on San Francisco Bay.
For Yahalom, on the other hand, it’s just his second day on the boat, and while he’s a passionate multihull sailor—he races a Hobie 20 with his daughter—he’s still figuring out the trimaran. His buddy Ron Kitowski is helping him out, as is Harvey, who offers a wealth of knowledge gleaned from racing high-performance multihulls, including his F-27, on the Bay.
In the NOOD’s multihull class, the Sprint 750 is also at a disadvantage downwind. To muster the requisite six boats for a class at the regatta, Stein had to come up with a way to even out the speed differences between the Corsair 24 and its newer siblings: the Sprint 750 and Dash 750. The older boats, also called F-24s, were built in San Diego in the 1990s. The newer tris, which have been built in Vietnam since 2006, are the same length and width, but a taller mast, bigger spinnaker, and lighter hull give them a speed advantage. “Our strategy, to keep things simple, was to ask the 750 sailors not use their spinnakers,” says Stein. “The Bay Area Multihull Association (BAMA) said, ‘OK, well they will still rate faster than you even if they’re not using their spins.’ But the feeling in the Corsair fleet was that it was still a plus because the more those guys get excited about this style of racing, the better off we’ll all be.”
Stein’s Origami, with the crew of co-owner Bill Pace, and Stein’s 20-something daughter and son-in-law, pass us before we reach the leeward mark. We finish third, behind the F-24 Gaijin skippered by Peter Adams. Spirits remain high onboard, even though Lookin’ Good has dropped a few places. Over the course of the day, the breeze comes on stronger and stronger, so we reef the main, ditch sailing with the screecher downwind, and hang on for dear life. Or maybe that was just me.
When I catch up with the guys onshore, Adams, who is the perennial runner-up to Stein, confirms what I’ve gleaned from the day. “The only way we could beat Ross is if we tied a lawn chair to his boat,” he says.
|Rafi Yahalom, Ron Kitowski, and Chris Harvey (l to r) brave the spray.
Photo by Meredith Powlison.