Three Bridge Fiasco Report

Rich and I had a great time sailing in the Fiasco.  We saw some old friends, made some new ones, had a few minor close-calls, and experienced quite a variety of conditions.

Our start time was 10:18:18AM.  Almost a dozen other boats shared the same starting time, and since the various starts were spaced by about one minute it was quite an adventure just getting to the line and crossing it without incident. 

The wind was light from the east (more or less) at the start, and continued to lighten until a big group of us ended up being parked before even reaching the Blackaller buoy (near the Golden Gate Bridge).

The adverse current and the lack of wind called for deployment of our “secret weapon”

While anchored we made some sandwiches and kicked back, enjoying the sight of some of the competition drifting backwards.  This lasted for the better part of an hour, until the wind began to fill in from the west.  We weighed anchor, rounded Blackaller, and began sailing across the Golden Gate towards Angel Island.

Rich and I had sailed the course the day before, but the wind was totally different on race day.  On Friday there was a big patch of dead air through much of Raccoon Strait (between Angel Island and Tiburon), but today there was a good breeze all the way through.  We rigged the spinnaker as we approached the Strait, but a wind shift meant that our pole was on the wrong side.  Since I had virtually no experience flying the kite shorthanded, I decided to keep the pole where it was and wait until we were leaving Raccoon before launching it.  Back on Port tack, we then flew the kite all the way to Red Rock.

 

We rounded Red Rock in a clockwise direction, while watching a smaller boat bang her keel on the rocks closer to shore.  She bounced off and continued on, seemingly no worse for her little adventure.  Once in the lee of Red Rock, we had a real struggle getting the rest of the way around.  The wind was light, and the current was sweeping us toward the Richmond Bridge pillars.  We managed to avoid contact by sailing under the bridge.  We then fought our way back into the central bay in a series of close tacks, with the current often cancelling any gains made.  We eventually made it though, and began our passage to Yerba Buena Island.

On this leg, the wind really picked up.  It was still coming from the west, and we definitely made some points as we waterlined many smaller boats.  Most of the fleet sailed through the main channel (see the previous entry about the Coast Guard’s warning about this channel), but we took the recommended alternate channel. 

As we rounded the Yerba Buena we were pleasantly surprised to see a number of competitors trapped in the light air behind the island.  We passed well to the outside of them and stayed in good breeze.

We tacked our way under the bridge and out towards Alcatraz.  Our last long tack took us behind Alcatraz, then straight to the finish buoy.  One final tack took us over the line at around 5:45PM.  We then sailed back to Sausalito where we had a very nice dinner with friends and family, who had been watching the race from Angel Island.

I don’t yet know how we placed, but I assume it was in the bottom third.  I do know that boats were still finishing right up to the 7:00PM race deadline.  It was a long day, but a very enjoyable one for sure!

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