You can’t help but get goosebumps when you see over 360 sail boats scattered across the entire San Francisco Bay. The SSS Three Bridge Fiasco brought all comers out on the water, from big old double-enders to twenty-foot sport boats and all sorts of multi-hulls. I decided to bring a little East Coast Anarchist tradition to the race, doing some of the same information-collecting and web-posting that I’ve done for the past couple of years for SORC races and other events. Of course in San Francisco the Anarchists are always there in force, making our progress in moving the 3BF live coverage forward easy. We took advantage of the Bay-wide cell coverage and 3G speeds, keeping the live thread truly live with video, photos and reports from all over the bay. Take a look at the OTW coverage – it’s pretty neat to be able to replay a race from start to finish through a thread, from morning videos to GPS recorded tracks, and maybe we’ll even get to see some results soon.
For those who haven’t read the stories in the last week, the Three Bridge Fiasco is a double-handed or single-handed race whose only real requirement is that you round one mark and two islands – each near one of the three bridges that border the central part of San Francisco Bay. The Fiasco comes into play because all other normal racing standards are thrown to the wind – boats can start in either direction, finish in either direction, round marks in any order and in any direction.
Looking at the current and the teensy amount of wind forecast, the general consensus seemed to be to go CCW (counter-clockwise), but there was a hint of wind on the water somewhere around the starting area causing some unfortunate racers – like our own War Dog – decide to go the slow way. Photoboy picked me up at South Beach Marina and we headed over to Yerba Buena Island to camp out and wait for boats. Given that I’d just finished a stretch in Miami and Key West working with the Etchells and SORC groups, seeing more 6 times that number of boats sailing around on SF bay was absolutely staggering.
PS: Here’s EVK4’s race report:
You all know that clumsy big kid with the heart of gold who just can’t get out of his own way? He’s always bumping into people, accidentally causing trouble and tripping over his own feet? Yep, that was us at the start line. With little to less wind, we came barreling into the start wielding 26,000 pounds of ocean-ready cruising boat, hanging a big anchor off the bow and a wind vane off the stern. And we were on port. So we ventured into the scrum, almost fouled 8 boats in one fell swoop, did our slow motion version of a crash tack, rinsed and repeated. We just kept going in there and getting pushed back out. I’d love to blame the Moores but they only caused the first two failed attempts. Things finally cleared out enough that my helming skills could get us "near" the line about 45 minutes later!
Of course I’m kidding, Paul and I are great sailors and even better racers, we just happen to disagree with PHRF’s assessment of Valis at 126. Our egos know the truth, given the boat’s maneuverability and straight line speed, combined with our cat-like racing instincts, we should be about a 18, so we just wanted to start with our faster brethren. Give those guys with the high ratings a bit of a head start so we could teach them and PHRF a lesson in Yacht Racing 101.
The proof of this skill comes in our actual belated start. Paul: "you’re not going to make the mark", me: "crap, you’re right", him: "hmmmm", me: "uh oh", him: "maybe stuff her into the wind for a second", me (this one is a thought bubble): "I wonder how much gelcoat costs on a Pacific Seacraft like this?" And, then, miraculously, our skill paid off, we missed that big rusty ball by about 4 inches (Mr. Crealock, good idea on the canoe stern) and our wind vane cleared the top by about 1 inch. We didn’t hit it! After high fives and a brief debate on whether it was like football where breaking the plane was the same as hitting, we kept going.
This is where our strategic insight came in. Thanks to our head start strategy, we knew what the two halves of the fleet were doing and it was obvious that CCW was the way to go. As we got to the point of tacking towards TI, we just kept going. Not sure if it was deliberate but we had wind and neither of us wanted to go through all of the headache that involved tacking the beast. Besides, it was sunny over by Richmond and foggy over by Oakland. Decision made, we were going to Red Rock first.
We cleared Point Blunt, bore off and started talking kite run. Paul, as the man that pays the bills, was selected as foredeck (we hadn’t discussed this beforehand) so off he went up into the war zone to get the kite hoisted. He came back about 3 minutes later and said, "no spinnaker we have a mouse nest." I’ll admit here that despite my huffery over my many ocean miles and insistence that I really know how to sail, my first thought was, "crap, another term I don’t know" and figured it was some technical term describing a spinnaker that was tangled up somehow. But, nope, it meant that a mouse had chewed up his spinnaker and made a nest with little pieces of his spinnaker. We had a very expensive laugh over the absurdity of that situation though I know there are some sailmakers out there right now thinking about breeding rodents. Read On.