Data Sandwich

There hasn’t been a 505 world championship on San Francisco Bay since 1981. Apparently it takes that long to forget—

Though day three lacked the carnage of day two, and that was a relief.


Fascinating, meanwhile, to see how the SAP techies slice and dice their transponder-based data to turn it into news for sailors at the end of the day. Defending world champion Ian Pinnell continues to sail narrower tacking angles upwind than Mike Holt or Mike Martin, and his VMG continues to show up lower. Makes sense, of course. In Tuesday’s race three, Pinnell sailed the first beat in about 19 knots of breeze at average tacking angles of 96 degrees, tack to tack, the tightest of our pull-out group. That compares to angles of 99 degrees for Howie Hamlin, 103 for Mike Holt, and 108 for Mike Martin.

Yes, I know that 108 sounds astonishingly wide, but the man likes to foot for speed, and that’s how the interim data shake out. Alexey, the SAP/Business Objects slice-and-dice specialist, plans to run analyses of races four and five, subtracting immediate post-tack data so that we aren’t including the downspeed numbers. It’s likely that the angles will come out tighter, in that analysis.

On the final downwind leg, we find Howie Hamlin covering 1.52 miles—barely more than the measured distance—at an average of 14.55 knots. Mike Martin covered 1.48 miles at 14.94 knots, and that fits the way the results looked.

Remember that flood tides shortened the downwind legs, and these speeds are over-the-ground.

And as we go along, we keep getting better. I’ve been working with the software people—sponsors of the SAP 505 World Championship—in their mission to demonstrate that business intelligence software can perform, even in unlikely environments doing a job it was never intended to do.

Meanwhile, this is the Mike Martin show. He and crew Jeff Nelson are so dominant, it’s scary. A broken mast in race two is the only drop of rain on their parade of breakaway wins, and now enough races are completed that the St. Francis Yacht Club race committee will drop worst-race scores, and there’s even a second drop in the works if eight or nine races are sailed, which is likely.

In 1999, Martin won the worlds, crewing for Howie Hamlin. He’s since been on a mission to do what no one has ever done in 54 years of 505 world championship competition—win as both crew and driver. He’s been hard on the scent before and come up short. Now he’s the man to beat.

Opportunity note: if you have a spare 505 mast or three hanging in the garage—new version or old—now is the time to load them up and truck them over to Crissy Field beach. I know a few people who need replacements, and I’m not sure that new production can keep up. Let me rephrase that. I know it can’t keep up.

Layday on Wednesday, and then we’re back at it for two races on Thursday.

For full results and live tracking, go to

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