Archive for January, 2012
I was talking to someone at the recent Pac Cup prep seminar, and he was urging me to go crewed instead of double-handed. His points were entirely valid — more hands, more eyes, more sleep, and so forth. Almost certainly a shorter passage. But I was thinking there are a number of benefits to the less is more way of thinking, most of them intangible benefits to the skipper. You know, the grumpy fat guy writing the checks. And I had the notion that more skippers might be choosing this path, so I checked the numbers for the last three Pacific Cups, and was proved right — in percent terms, the number of DH entries has been growing. If you add the single-handers doing the SHTP, then the percentage of boats going shorthanded has been pretty stable right around 40% for these same three years. So, 4 out of 10 skippers are foregoing crew for their Hawai’ian adventure. Sounds good to me (so far).
This year’s edition of the SSS Three Bridge Fiasco was the fourth time we have done the race, and the first time we have finished. Annika flew up from UCSD to provide her excellent helming skills. The weather couldn’t have been better warm and with lightish winds, except for the two big holes near Blackaller and at the end rounding Yerba Buena.
The wind was pretty variable at the time of the start. Motoring along the city front at about 0900, the wind was up to 15+ kts with whitecaps forming west of TI, and so we put the #1 genny below and hauled out our shiny new Doyle Stratus #3. But a half hour later it had dropped to less than 8, so it was down the hatch with the #3 and out again with the #1. Even so, we called the start pretty badly, and were about 5 minutes late over the line, creeping along at 2 kts. After being razzed by our pal War Dog about having too small a sail up, we set the spin, and proceeded to drift down to Blackaller, with over a hundred boats around us doing a floating fiberglass impersonation of 880 at rush hour. We barely stayed outside the Anita Buoy, and then it was really crunch time as we entered the Maelstrom. Three trimarans were lined up ahead, ama to ama and we where hemmed in on either side with boats less than 10 feet away. The tris seemed to form a solid barrier, and in spite of the well known fact that multis are the fastest boats sailed by teh bestistist sailors, with our spin up we were fast than they were, and as overtaking boat had no rights. I guess in hindsight I should have doused the spin, but somehow the waters parted and we snuck through. “A ballsy move” was what one fellow racer told me the next day, but it was more reckless than anything.
We overstood Red Rock only to find the wind dying there as well, and had to do a short, slo mo tack to stay clear of the reef. Then we made one of the better tactical calls of the day, delaying setting the spin to head south until the wind settled down. At it turned out, the apparent wind was ahead of the beam for the whole reach down to TI, and we saved time over those boats that had set and doused. The Bay Bridge was another traffic jam, and this time we did not do so well getting out of it. But we picked up a bit by going straight for the Pier 39 corner instead of hugging the city shoreline as many boats did, and then had to tack out. Our finish was at 15:35, putting us at 158th out of 271 double-handed starters. It was a great day on the water for Annika and me!
[Edit] framgrab from our crossing the finish, seen from the Racedeck