2009 has been a windy year so far in the San Francisco Bay.
It looked a whole lot windier Friday as we were rigging our 10.0’s while the city front was full of white caps and bump and jump sailors wound on the 5.0’s. Nonetheless, a group of 10 or so sailors took part in the first twilight series of the 2009 season.
The series is run of the deck of the St. Francis Yacht Club along the San Francisco city front.
Unlike most formula races, this regatta is more of a sprint than a marathon.
5 races are run each night around a short course with sailors navigating their way through several buoys, commercial traffic and the famous SF fog.
There is big emphasis on starts, board handling and calling your lay-lines as each race last only 5-7 minutes! All of the fleet starts on port tack as the starting line is immediately next to the shore. The biggest advantage is to win the start on the inside and get the shore lift up to the first mark. Usually only 1 or 2 boards can squeeze out from the pack, but those that do- get to Anita rock first and are off with a good lead going downwind.
The RC can call 1 of 4 courses which involve an extra gybe or 2 around the starting buoys or straight downwind after the windward mark. After rounding the leeward just east of the St.FYC, sailors head back upwind towards the shore and make one last tack to the start/finish line in front of the club. The San Francisco tides usually pay a big part in strategy as the ebb or flood can give you a big advantage or serious setback as you work your way around the course.