January 6, 2014

The Bay’s Biggest & Wackiest Race

With the potential of freezing weather, strong winds and rain, it’s a mystery why roughly 350 boats turn out annually to do the Three Bridge.

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As a whole, sailors are often stereotyped as rugged individualists who pride themselves on self-sufficiency. But no subset of sailors actually fits this profile more accurately than singlehanders and doublehanders. This month, several hundred of them are sprucing up their boats and fine-tuning their gear in anticipation of the largest — and whackiest — race on San Francisco Bay’s annual race calendar: The Three Bridge Fiasco, January 25, which accepts only shorthanded entries.

The race’s head-scratching instructions specify that boats can cross the starting line in either direction, then proceed in any order around buoys or landmarks near three bridges: the Golden Gate Bridge (the fleet rounds Blackaller buoy), the Bay Bridge (around Treasure Island), and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (around Red Rock). Competitors cross the finish line in either direction also.

As you can see, the event’s shorthanded fleet is typically composed of a wild variety of sailing craft.

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Given these perameters, we understand why the Three Bridge is often referred to as crazy or goofy. What’s not so obvious is why it draws the largest turnout of boats of any race here all year — even those that take place on glorious summer days. It makes us shiver just to think about all the times we’ve been out photographing the Three Bridge when it was so cold, wet and miserable that we couldn’t wait to get back to the dock.

So, if you’re a Three Bridge regular, tell us: What is it about this annual contest that makes it so compelling? Do you see it as an annual rite of passage? Is it to test your mettle? Or is it that you’re so desperate to get out of the house in late January that you’d find almost any excuse? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Racing Seminars

This summer two historic ocean races to Hawaii resume their bi-annual starts in the Bay — The Singlehanded Transpac and the Pacific Cup. In each case, organizers employ an extensive network of support and education to racers.

As shown in this 2008 Pacific Cup file shot, the 2,200-mile trip to Hawaii begins with a beat up the Cityfront.

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One aspect common to each is their pre-race seminars. These are open to participants and non-participants alike and provide in-depth discussions on numerous topics such as on-board electronics, rigging, safety, and sail management. This month both will be holding events on topics that might very well interest you — whether you’re planning to sail to Hawaii this summer or not.

The Singlehanded Sailing Society’s January 8 seminar is all about steering. The two-hour session covers important aspects of emergency rudders, self-steering systems, and the installation and maintenance of autopilots and associated equipment failures. The presentation will be held at the Oakland YC from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Similar seminars are held monthly through July

The Pacific Cup YC hosts their Pacific Offshore Academy at the Richmond YC periodically through March. On January 26, POA #3 covers various topics that include: boat optimization, crew practice, provisioning your boat, returning home, and insurance. Reserve your spot online or show up at 1 p.m. the day of the event with your $20 admittance fee.

What the. . . ?

Will marina pricing inspire a new era of curbside parking?

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Looking at this image of a sailboat in odd surroundings we were reminded of a couple of times when we couldn’t remember for the life of us exactly where we parked our car.

In any case, this shot seems to be screaming for a caption, so we invite you to take a hard look at the image and send us your cleverest caption suggestion. The one we like best will earn its author some official Latitude 38 swag.

This morning the amazing Earth Wind Map gives us a vivid depiction of the strong winds currently hammering New England and Northern Europe.
"One of the reasons Mexico remains a Third World country is because it continues to appoint people to positions of power who don’t have any idea what they are doing." This is the opinion of one of the most mild-mannered and respected marina owner/managers in Mexico, one who is also one of the most knowledgeable on Mexican maritime law.