SAN FRANCISCO--For most sailors, the worst way to start a regatta is to be over early for the first start. Tom Kassberg, a 41-year-old J/105 skipper from San Francisco, would've been thrilled if that was the worst thing that happened to him on Saturday, the first day of the Sailing World NOOD Regatta Presented by Farmers Insurance and Mount Gay Rum. Kassberg's day started going in the wrong direction before he even got on the water.
"I was getting the crew sandwiches," he said. "I went to the deli and I was coming back, doing about 35 through a green light. Another car came through a solid red and I couldn't do anything to avoid them and I plowed right into them. The next thing I know, I'm standing on the sidewalk."
An X-Ray at a nearby hospital revealed a broken clavicle. Fitted with a sling, however, Kassberg was determined not to let one "little" car accident--his Ford truck is totaled--ruin his regatta. So he rushed down to the water, got on his boat Walloping Swede and just made the first start for the 35-boat J/105 class, the biggest at this NOOD Regatta.
After a morning like that, you would hope that Lady Luck might reward the resilient Kassberg with a couple of good races. But this was not to be. With a new crew and an aching shoulder, Kassberg finished 17th in the first race. He rounded the first mark in fourth in the second race, but after one problematic takedown decided to call it a day and is currently 28th in his class.
"I was having a hard time steering when the breeze picked up," he said. "Once we shrimped the kite, I called it a day."
Despite his run of tough luck, Kassberg left the host St. Francis YC with a smile. "I'm just happy I'm walking around," he said. "I feel like a pretty lucky guy." Kassberg said he that he probably wouldn't race on Sunday, but was still planning to get out for the Big Boat Series in two weekends.
Unfortunately, Kassberg's car accident wasn't the only collision involving a regatta participant. A flood tide, a westerly which built to over 20 knots, and some crowded course conspired to stir up a little mayhem on the City Front. Early in the second race for the 13-boat Farr 40 fleet, David Thomson's Peregrine and Sheppard Kett's Flyer were involved in a brutal collision that knocked both boats out of that race, and Peregrine, at least, out of the regatta. Up at the front of that pack, just a few lengths clear of the chaos, was Brack Duker's Revolution. Though he's only owned the boat for just over a year Duker has quickly climbed the learning curve. He was the class of the fleet today, leading the fleet all the way around the track in the first race and then winning the second race thanks largely to a scorching first run and some sharp tactics from Peter Isler. Peter Stoneberg's Shadow recorded a pair of seconds while Robert Shaw's Wahoo stands in third with nine points. Duker's Revolution was awarded the Lewmar Boat of the Day award for Saturday.
Also winning boat races on Saturday were Carl Smit's J/24 Blunderbuss, Ben Wells' 11-Meter Headhunter.net and Robert George's J/35 Kiri.
In the 21-boat Melges 24 class the Southern Californian sailors who showed they're not afraid of a little fog and 20-knot seabreeze. Argyle Campbell put together a 1-2 and has a 2-point lead over Dave Ullman. Michael Stone's Not the Family Buick is another two points behind Ullman in third.
John Wylie's Tabasco leads the 1D35 class with a 2-1 scorelines while Scott Sellers' Swamp Donkey and Mike Devries' Mad House are tied for first in the 17-boat Express 27 class.
Dave Wilson amd Jeff Littfin are tied for first in the J/105 class, each have recorded a first and a second.
The forecast is for more of the same tomorrow, a building southerly, a strong flood tide, and some intense competition. Bad luck is sure find someone, but hopefully it'll wait until everyone gets out on the water.