What started a a cottage industry in the Mid 80's, when the sailing world was abuzz with the twelve meters headed to Perth to do battle for the Americas Cup, and more specifically, here in the Bay Area, Tom Blackaller's USA campaign, became a Millimeter phenomenon. With some 400* hulls made by Jim Taylor of Millimeter Marine in San Rafael, the one person, 12' 6" replica of the 12 meters spread out across the country, with strongholds in Stamford, and SF Bay, and have recently been massing at Lake Oswego near Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington and British Columbia.
This past weekend, 10 Millimeters gathered at the Encinal Yacht Club on the Oakland Estuary for the 2012 "Nationals", for the 28th time since the 1st Nationals in 1985. Yes they have been held elsewhere, including Richardson Bay twice, leading to sinkings when the cockpits flooded following broaches, 4 times in Stamford Connecticut, and one each in Marblehead, Key Largo and Huntington Lake. You might say the Estuary is ground zero for the Millimeter class.
The boat itself is very, very trailerable, at only 70 lbs hull weight when empty. The ballast consists of "Lead Pigs" which live in the hollow keel . Each pig weighs about 25-30 lbs. The class rule on ballast is described here:
13.1 The helmsman and internal ballast must weight 430 lbs +/- 10 lbs. Except that there shall be a minimum of 210 lbs of ballast (in the form of lead) and a maximum of 330 lbs. Of internal ballast (in the form of lead).
Millimeter boats can be found used for $500.00 to $ 2,000.00 on the open market, which is pretty cheap for a complete boat which will bring you lots of fun and excitement and not a dime in dock fees.
Assembling the rig upon arrival is a piece of cake. The skipped just sets the mast into the divot, attaches two through deck bolts, and then straps down the stays and shrouds, and she's ready for sails. Each boat is steered by foot pedals, and control direction can be switch to user preference. "The steering can be the most difficult thing to master: Say Aaron Lee "You get so caught up in dealing with which strings to pull, you end up sailing way off course while figiting, it took me about a year for things to get sorted naturally.
There are a myriad of lines to contend with, your competition, boat traffic, and wakes.
Yes, with little freeboard, a large wake while heeled can fill the cock pit rather rapidly. The boats are all equipped with hand powered pumps which are good for minor water insurgence, but the "Bug Gulps" can be problematic, hence the desire to sail in flat water locations.
Nameless recalls his adventures with the Millimeters some decades past:
It was long time ago but as memory serves, it had to be 90 (I know because I drove myself and the boat to the event in my VW bug, boat upside down on top looking like a shark). If I recall correctly, I ran into someone sailing them at the FC lagoon. I got to talking about it and how I had always dreamed about one (mom and dad said no when I asked if I could trade/sell one of our toro's and my sailboard to get one).
I found out there were two sitting on a double trailer in Sacramento and a deal might be worked out. The long and short was I was allowed temporary chartering of one after driving someone else's rig up and bringing them back. I practiced a bunch in the lagoon and got my maneuvers down pretty well, but never had the chance to two boat. I was pretty cocky going into the regatta, and as I remember day one was pretty light, very shifty and I got smoked. Bruce and Packy had some tips afterwards and it was onto day two.
Day two started in moderate breeze and I was doing well until I missed a shift and got spit. By the time race 2 started it was blowing high teens and gusting.I think I had a great start, good boat speed, and a lot of water coming in, so it was a pump fest all the way up hill. I think I rounded the weather mark in 2nd after two boats just kept going for shore. Not me...set the kite and thought I had a chance for a bullet. Well, more water was now coming in than out and I was pumping non stop. About halfway down the run I saw an rc boat go by the leader, he luffed up and they proceeded to come over to me and tell me the race was abandoned. Bummed, I dropped the kite and that's when the rc noticed I was sitting in a bathtub of water. They told me to tie a tow line on and get in the whaler. off they go, dragging the boat and me back to the dock, the whole time the boat is sitting lower and lower in the water. We entered the harbor and slowed down and you could tell it was coming. As soon as the whaler hit the dock next to the hoist and stopped, down she went like a greased refrigerator. Thankfully being next to the hoist, removal of lead and bringing her back to the surface was fairly painless. Just a lot of free diving.
Fun freaking boats and the top end of the fleet are just like toro seniors!
Pax Davis in "Metric Ruler" Has won the annual Millimeter Nationals 9 times, and is 2nd only to Bruce Munro's 13 victories on the all time list. Other previous champs in attendance were Randy Smith (red cap) shown below providing some advice to long time sailing veteran Hal McCormack, who was initiated into the fraternity on Saturday, his 1st sail ever in the Millimeter.
Hal has been associated with the fleet since it's inception and was PRO on may a regatta in the early days, and sails with several members in the Mercury Fleet, but this was his first time trip around the buoys in a millimeter. Aaron Lee (#7 below) won the title in 2009 and is the go to guy at EYC if you want to go demo a Millimeter for yourself.
The racing this weekend was near perfect conditions with brilliant sunshine on Saturday, and slight clouds Sunday and breeze in the 4-8 knot range. 15 knots is the top limit for these awesome minature keelboats, anymore and things can go sideways pretty quick! Pax Davis's report from the weekend:
Ten Millies competed in the 2012 Millimeter National Regatta at the Encinal YC on the Alameda estuary where the club is located. Saturday, there were holes but the wind averaged 4-8 knots under a bright sun. Sunday, the wind was 4-8 knots and some puffs slightly stronger under sun with some clouds.Very smooth water. Great Millie sailing.
There were six races completed on Saturday and four races Sunday. If more than eight races were completed, there were two discards. The courses were a sausage finishing on the wind for the first race and a mix of a double sausage finishing on the wind and a sausage and a half finishing downwind.
Chris Golian did all the race committee work, setting excellent buoy location, calling the General Recalls, individual recalls and the scoring. He did it all. Vice Commodore Mike Andrews took videos of the action that was played later at the club.
Pax Davis won the Gold Fleet and The Steve Taylor Perpetual Trophy. He started very fast on Saturday with four firsts and two seconds. Aaron Lee was second. He came on strong Sunday winning three of the four races. Randy Smith was a close third place.
The Silver Fleet was won by Liam O’Flaherty. Jeff Rauenhorst placed second. The entire fleet is split into Gold and Silver groups after five races. Both Liam and Jeff had strong second day results.
Some improvement in the fleet. Paul Turner, fourth place gold fleet, was in the top five in six of the races. Greg Owens seemed to have his best races on day one, whereas Bill Fruchterman came on stronger on day two. Kieth Denebeim was welcomed back as he placed in the top five three times on Saturday, the only day he participated. Hal McCormick was a guest skipper. However his borrowed boat had breakdowns.
Many Thanks to the Encinal YC for putting on the regatta.
Owner Sail# R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 Points Place
Pax 214 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 4 1 2 11 1st
Aaron 135 6 4 1 3 3 2 1 1 3 1 15 2nd
Randy 22 2 2 3 1 4 4 5 2 2 5 18 3rd
Paul 52 4 8 5 7 6 3 3 5 4 11 37 4th
Liam 212 3 7 6 8 5 5 6 8 5 4 41 5th
Jeff 220 9 9 7 5 7 7 4 3 7 3 43 6th
Greg 84 7 5 4 6 8 8 9 7 3 6 51 7th
Hal 14 5 6 5.5 5.5 11 11 8 9 8 7 54 8th
Keith 12 8 3 8 4 4 6 11 11 11 11 55 9th
Bill 111 10 9 9 9 9 7 7 6 6 8 63 10th
To find out more about the Millie's as they are known, Check out The Millimeter Website
For more pictures from the weekend, check out:The 2012 Millimeter Nationals Galleria d' photoboy