delta ditch pinch

race report

delta ditch pinch

This weekend’s Delta Ditch race  – the original upriver, (usually) downwind slide and one of SA’s favorite all-time races – had not one, but two dedicated threads for those who wanted to follow the action.  The Sailing Anarchy thread is here, and the Multihull Anarchy thread is here. OTWA West Coast bureau chief Jeremy from Surf City Catamarans did another stellar job of covering the race and taking sweet shots of the action as well as videos posted in the threads.  Here’s a report from J that makes us wish we lived in NorCal:

The 20th anniversary of the Delta Ditch threw-down to be one epic event! The wind started early from the NE, puffing to above 20 in some spots, which coupled with the flooding tide made for some rough starting conditions. Over 175 boats signed up and 8 dropped out before even entering the Delta, a testament to the brutal conditions. The D-Class Adrenaline suffered from a parting main halyard lock and had to abandon early. The Moore 24 fleet, always entertaining to watch their starts, turned out with 30 boats. Some of these guys have been racing together for a long time, which makes them able to read each other’s minds as they pile up around the favored end. During their start, one guy got squeezed out and ended up in a bit of a tangle with the committee boat. The Express 27 fleet, the Wylie Wabbit’s, Melges 24s and, F18s, attended in impressive numbers as well.

My primary function was to keep an eye on the smaller cats and render assistance if needed, which put us up in the front of the pack…but not as far in front of the pack as TUKI, pictured above. This Prosail 40, hit its stride and was gone. TUKI finished the race with blistering elapsed time of 5:13:28. When this 40’ overgrown beach-cat powers up in a puff, the motion is slow as the windward hull lifts off the water and the boat accelerates forward. I wanted to get some pics and had the hammer down for almost 10 miles before I caught this beast. From my perspective, TUKI doesn’t even feel the chop, it just glides right over the top of it like a shark gliding through the water. TUKI was the first boat over the finish line, almost an hour ahead of the second boat. Breakfast at Bills, an F18 sailed by pretty much the nicest people in catamaran sailing, Jay and Pease Glaser finished in 6:03:05. Randy Smyth and Johnny Lovell, along with the Glasers, make a total of 4 Olympic medalists sailing in the multihull class.

Bay Area locals Phillip Meredith and Mark Lewis followed Jay and Pease across the line, sailing aboard their F18. Phillip is no slouch when it comes to wrestling his powerful F18 in pretty much any conditions the Bay has to offer. An advocate for getting new people on the water aboard these small cats, you can find him sailing the South Bay often. He and Mark both were some of the early adopters of the F18 here in Nor Cal. In the multi 1 div corrected out, David Meacock aboard a Nacra 20 and Gary Russel sailing a Hobie 16 followed TUKI.

Imagine sailing a Hobie 16 up-wind in those conditions for over 80 miles, that takes some stones. With an elapsed time 7:43:29, Russel beat the first mono hull, Pegasus 32, by 10 minutes. Russel’s been sailing 16s since the 70s, so I guess in the past 40 years he’s learned something about how to make it go.

Up near the front of the pack with the multis were the 3 boat fleet of Melges 32s. The 32s traded spots all the way up the Ditch. The maneuverable M32 sails just like an oversized dingy, with a giant A kite. All said and done, the Pegasus Racing M32 was the first monohull to finish with an elapsed time 7:53:43 despite some nice wipeouts. I’ll be posting some video from my dash cam of the 32s trading gybes. Corrected out, the beautiful 8 Meter Yucca (elapsed 8:34:34) finished first in the monohull class, followed by a Cal 40 named Henry Hannah, Bad Hare Day, a Wylie Wabbit and the Pegasus 32.

Yucca is one fine vessel! Built in 1937 in the era of wooden hulls and teak decks, Yucca is a nice mix of beautiful, traditional lines coupled with modern rigging and sails. In the mid 60s the boat sustained major damage when she blew up while refueling. You’d never know, she’s a beautiful boat, and she really trucks up wind. She’s very fun to watch.

In the evening, boats were still finishing as the once brutal Northerly switched off and a light, warm breeze filled from the West. The DJ fired up and Tri Tip was served; all washed down with rum. I felt like I’d been pulverized from blasting through the chop in the Surf City Skiff, so I took a nap in the truck. My GPS showed 142 miles traveled, and my back agrees. Thank you to the organizers of this great race! Good times!

I’ve posted a pile of pics here to check out at your leisure.  Thanks!

-Jeremy Leonard