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J-111 Worlds: Peter Wagner (USA) and his SKELETON KEY team take top honors

SAN FRANCISCO – The 2017 J-111 Worlds was hosted last week in grand style by St Francis Yacht Club. The eight boats thrashed it out in nine races on San Francisco Bay. Four of the boats were from the Bay Area, two made the cross-country trek from Annapolis, one came up from Los Angeles, and the long-distance award went to an Australian team from Sandringham Yacht Club (near Melbourne) sailing the yacht JOUST, a local charter.

I crewed with the Aussie team along with Chris Watts, another world class sailor from Santa Cruz. We had four great days of racing – three days around-the-buoys on the Berkeley Circle, and one long-distance race that took us from Alcatraz to Pt Bonita, down to Pt Blunt, up to Pt Cavallo, and back down to Treasure Island. Close racing in 20+ knots everyday. The regatta was sailed in a flood tide so it made for long, hard beats and quick runs.

JOUST was helmed by Rod Warren (AUS). We had great group of six Aussies that were nothing but professional. They transformed the charter boat (already a two-time Rolex Big Boat winner in the J-111 Class) into a rocket ship upwind. We managed to win four of the nine races, including the last race of the series when everything was on the line. SKELETON KEY and SLUSH FUND were simply a bit more consistent over the four days, showing that bullets are not all that matter!

It was perhaps the best four days of racing I have ever experienced anywhere. SF Bay was in all its summertime glory, and proved once again it is one of the world's best sailing venues.

Congrats to Peter Wagner and his SKELETON KEY team for their consistent and clean sailing, and clutch performance on the final day. When asked about the origins of his boat’s moniker, Wagner cracked a small smile and said, “A skeleton key is an Australian term for a surfboard that performs well in a variety of conditions, and we like to think that we sail well in all conditions.”

Editor's note: With thanks to our newest Sailing Illustrated contributor, Ryan Kern, who grew up sailing in Newport, RI and has lived in the Bay Area since 2002. A member of San Francisco Yacht Club, Ryan has sailed in the J-111 Class since 2013. He says, "I just try to sail as much as I can with my friends, who happen to be really good sailors and great people." –TFE

Peter Wagner (USA, San Francisco, center holding platter-trophy) and his SKELETON KEY team at the prizegiving Sunday with StFYC Commodore Jim Kiriakis. Photo: Gerard Sheridan.

"Iconoically beautiful and reliably windy" San Francisco Bay. Beaut photos by Gerard Sheridan.

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