Three Bridge Fiasco 2013

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Replay of our track, above.   Below, a  time lapse movie from dropatan.

Annika and I had our best-ever 3BF performance last Saturday, with blustery winds pushing us to a 14th out of 34 starters in our Division (DH Spin PHRF<108), while beating all the other Olson 34s (two of which admittedly single-handing), all the Express 37s, and overall 61st out of 256 DH monohull starters (based on the preliminary results).    Last year (the first year we even finished the damn thing)  we were a bit below the overall fleet midpoint, and this year we are in the top quartile, at least if one chooses one’s denominator wisely.

Because the Fiasco can be run in any direction, this race starts the night before more so than others.   I had studied the predicted tides and winds on SailFlow, and it seemed we could look forward to NW moderate winds, though how strong these would be and exactly when they would fill in depended on the model.   With the last of the flood at the start and a strong ebb in mid-afternoon, it seemed clear to me that clockwise was the way to go.  Also, we had had good luck with CW last year.   Apparently, a lot of people took the NWS prediction of  Westerly all day to heart, fortunately for us.  I discounted the  predicted strength though, since the forecast had been for 10 – 15 kts for several days, though the most recent was calling for low 20s.

Conditions at the start were fairly warm, sunny, and with the breeze varying from 8 to 14 kts.   As we approached the start area and pulled back on motor power, all of the engine alarms sounded at once — alternator, coolant temp, and oil pressure.  A very hurried check on the engine found no real problem, but the distraction caused us to miss our start time by several minutes.  Even the moderate wind of 12-14 kts after the start made it hard to pull the big #1 genny in in a timely way, but we did our best taking advantage of the early ebb along the shore on the way to Blackaller.

We had one slow spot near Harding, but I liked how the flood was still helping us through with about +1kt over the ground, and felt the dead spot would not last.   We did see a few boats peel away from the CW group and head for points East.  Coming though Raccoon, we continued to enjoy the flood in mid-channel, so decided to stay there rather than hugging the Tiburon shore as so many others seemed to be doing.  We also encountered new-to-the-Bay Olson 34 LOYA.

Rounding Red Rock the question became: to set, or not to set?  The angles were fine for the spin, but we were in a very crowded situation and the wind was in the high teens.   Boat speed was good and no one was passing us.  So we decided to sit tight.   Also, it was lunch time.  As we ran down to TI, the wind increased and moved steadily bow-wards, so that by the time we were at Berkeley it was 20+ kts and too hot to carry the spin.   We observed several boats rounding up or having some serious spin management issues, including the boat whose main had a huge logo for “the official law firm of AC34” on it, having lost both sheets and the red spin flying straight out from the masthead as they passed under the Bay Bridge.   Since this specific scenario is one that I have nightmares about, I felt a lot better on our decision not to fly that day!

Our biggest mistake came next.   With the wind  in the Slot clearly over 20 kts, we should have gotten ready to change down to the #3 and maybe even reef, as we were grossly overpowered with the #1 up to go upwind, as we certainly would be doing on the final leg.    Instead, as we approached the Bay Bridge West span, we decided to just gut it out even though we were on our ear and boatspeed was not good.  Annika felt she had good control, and I knew that changing down would cost us a lot of time.   So we hung on as we beat around the corner and towards Alcatraz in the very bumpy seas and winds solidly in the mid-20s, gusting to 30, and where it was clear the now-ebbing current was going to be a benefit.   Our finish was at 13:49:28, and we made sure to do complete turn around the X buoy to leave no room for doubt as to crossing the line.

We had a  very fast run down the Estuary where the wind stayed above 20 kts most of the way, and on starting the engine found it to be fine, with no alarms sounding.  Hmm.    We capped our day with a well deserved dinner at Scolari’s, our favorite eatery on Park Street, where the dress code is sailor-friendly.

Also see writeups at NorCalSailing, Latitude 38,  and Sailing Anarchy.

Race replay with multiple boat tracks here.

59 Responses to “Three Bridge Fiasco 2013”

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