Rags x 2
The Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Pt. Richmond to S. San Francisco race Saturday on Ragtime with Chris Welsh and Matt Vukelich.
Start was in front of Richmond YC, out and up Racoon Straits to Little Harding buoy, then across Alcatraz, under the Bay Bridge and down towards Alameda, then to the finish at McCovey Cove (AT&T Park).
We were a bit late at the start, wanting to be conservative amidst the congested fleet. 11-12 knots of breeze; #3 jib and full main. First trial was going gently aground exiting the Richmond Channel; all of the other boats were able to sail through, but with Ragtime’s 11′ draft it wasn’t working, so we bore off and exited via the center of the channel and then hardened up again. By the first turning mark, we were ahead of all but one boat and passed them shortly after in route to Raccoon Straits. Breeze was up to 12-14 but shifty in direction.
The Straits were a kick. 2-3 knots of building flood tide, water action very visible in large swirls and eddies. With limited local knowledge, we were cautious about pushing the tide relief on the edge near Angel Island. Strong uprises from underwater features were a bit foreboding, especially since we had already gone aground once. Looking behind us, we could see the competition was going far further in to shore.
Near the leading edge of the Straits the tidal flow was virtually a set of standing waves across the whole channel. Very cool to sail through. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjAUyk2rx7
Unfortunately, as lead boat and with a bad GPS waypoint we eased off below Little Harding. Half way to a mark closer to Angel we looked back at the competition hard on the wind for a mark to weather and realized we needed to head up to get around the mark and set off for the South Bay. Made it, but had one of those uncomfortable moments of pinching and slowing into the tide to barely make it around. With three knots of tide, a half boat length away is a damn close rounding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd3lz8jmzq4
The #3 and main were a good combo past Alcatraz as we needed to stay high to allow for the flood that was sweeping us down. Having stand up paddled around Alcatraz from StFYC the day before I was very aware of the strength of the tidal flow around the Island. Between the tidal sweep and a header as we approached the Bay Bridge we still had the right sails up, and with the tide we were seeing 13 knots + over the bottom. Great stuff!
We expected lightening wind after the Bridge and went to set the Jibtop to bear off. Tough sledding with only two on board – scariest part was both working on the bow for the sail swap during a busy Saturday on the Bay. Got the new sail up and the old down, but were a bit overpowered in the short term. Rounded the mark with a bit of drama – actually had to gybe briefly to get below it without getting swept by.
After the rounding headed for Candlestick and the finish. Overpowered again and too tight for the Jibtop but with only three miles to go, no sense in trying to swap back to the #3. Breeze on solidly, rail down. After settling down we realized that our COG was 30 degrees above our heading; we were able to ease the jibtop, make speed, and head way down while letting the tide lift us up to the finish.
Finished in 2:35 total time, fastest monohull and corrected to second place in our division. Pretty happy with that, given it was our first DH outing and the boat is not set up at all for two man racing. Huge kudos to the Singlehanded Society for running a fun, well attended (70 boats +/-) race, and to the organizers and SF YRA for getting our handicap sorted in time for the race