Gorgeous spring weather decended on the Bay this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing for some sailors involved in the Great Corkscrew Slough Race hosted by the Potter Yachters and South Bay’s Peninsula YC.
"This was the fourth year PYC hosted the rendezvous, and things looked promising," said PYC’s Lee Callister. "The rain had stopped, there was breeze and everything seemed perfect." After the 10 a.m. skippers meeting at the clubhouse, the race officially started ‘Le Mans-style’. "All the drivers ran — well, ok, walked briskly — to their waiting boats and set off down the creek. It was high tide. What could go wrong?"
Light breeze is what went wrong. "It took them longer than anticipated to tack their way up to the turning basin where the creek widens," Callister said. "And longer to work their way to the mouth of Corkscrew Slough. And longer to tack their way up the shallow slough."
As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no Potter Yachter . . . or something to that effect. "First one boat ran aground, and then another," reports Callister. "Others who stopped to help then fell victim to the dropping tide. A few managed to power their way out but six were left immobilized. Fortunately, most were prepared, and all took it good naturedly by enjoying the sun and chatting on the radio as they waiting for the tide."
"At 2.5 feet, my Bull’s Eye Lia was the deepest draft (yet shortest) vessel in the flotilla," said racer Jerry Higgins. "Since I was leading the race, Lia was the first to go aground. A couple boats tried to pull me free, but they dashed when it became obvious I was going to be there a while. As luck would have it, they also grounded a couple thousand yards farther down the slough."
"To be fair to the organizers, the faster boats that kept moving did beat the tide and made it all the way around without incident," said Dave Kautz, who raced on his O’Day 192. "The rest of us? Well, the pictures tell a good story."
As the tide finally started coming back in, a flotilla set out to rescue the stragglers. "They managed to herd all the boats back to the starting point, where the sailors were pleased to find hot corned beef and cabbage, liquor and a roaring fire waiting for them," recalled Callister.
Indeed, Higgins said, "The only bad part about sitting in the mud all afternoon and evening was thinking about the feast we were missing. But they kept it warm for the crews of the six mud-bound vessels. You can only imagine how good it tasted as we flushed it down with beer after we arrived around midnight! The PYC people are the warmest group of yachties I’ve ever encountered. I was so taken by them, in fact, I’ve applied for membership!"
How do you attract attention to a hotel and marina complex? One successful formula seems to be to host a cruisers’ rally with cash prizes, parties, free drinks and all sorts of discounts on local services. That’s exactly what organizers of the first-ever Cruisers’ Rally to El Salvador did, and an impressive fleet of nearly 60 entries is headed their way as we write this.
The first five boats arrived at Hotel Bahia del Sol yesterday, with a second group staged to leave Huatulco during the next weather window. Chula, Inspiration at Sea, Sirens Call, White Rose I, and Waltzing Matilda were all greeted by official rally hostess Claudia Olviedo, who joined bar pilot Rogelio aboard his jet ski to usher new arrivals across the bay’s tricky sandbar.
The hotel definitely made the cruisers’ feel welcome, by hosting an opening day party with drink specials, ice-cold local beer, and an endless supply of snacks.
Additional boats are expected to trickle in during the next eight weeks, with the Rally’s official deadline being May 10. For more info on the Rally and this up-and-coming destination — including tips for crossing the Gulf from Huatulco — see the website.
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As of a day ago, Franck Cammas’ 105-ft trimaran Groupama 3 had spent as much time behind the pace of the Jules Verne Trophy holder as she had in front of it. But an improving weather situation and fast transit of the ridge of the Azores High have translated into a lead of over 400 miles against the ghost of Bruno Peyron’s 50d, 16h, 20m record run aboard the 125-ft maxi cat Orange 2 in ’05. Better yet, the forecasts are showing an unimpeded run to the Ushant finish in a southwesterly breeze with its concomitant, benign sea state — critical to the speed threshhold of the giant multihull. The 10-man crew — which includes the Bay Area’s Stan Honey at the nav station — were anticipating a tougher traverse of the ridge.
"We’re happy to be back in the breeze because things were still pretty tricky on Tuesday, close to the axis of a ridge of high pressure," Cammas said. "The GRIB files had us believe that we could be swallowed up by the light breeze of this high pressure, which might have led to us being stuck for hours or even days! In fact, the night proved windier than forecast and we were able to make good our escape via the north."
Now Groupama 3 will have to negotiate the depression that the crew is banking on pushing them all the way home to a Saturday finish.
"Right now, we’re going to have to deal with a depression, which we hope we’ll be able to play with as far as the finish," Cammas said. "It’s going to be windy with quite a lot of gybes to perform. In fact we’re tackling our first maneuver right now. The maneuvers are very smooth after 45 days, but it’s still a tricky moment as it’s in situations such as these that you can damage material. We have to stay on the pace now and not take any risks, however we can do it without forcing ourselves to stay in the low. We’re confident about the condition of the gear because we’ve preserved the boat throughout, but we’ll be attacking a similar phase to that of the Southern Ocean."
We knew folks were anxious to join the Delta Doo Dah Deux, but when all 50 available slots were filled within 12 hours of Monday’s announcement, we were taken completely by surprise! We truly wish we could accommodate more boats — and hope to in future years — but right now we’re keeping it small in an effort to make the event managable.
If you didn’t register in time, you can still sign up for the waiting list — last year a number of initial registrants cancelled, opening up spots for others. Email Christine, and be sure to include the following:
- Your name
- Your daytime phone number
- Your boat’s name and make
Thanks again to everyone who’s entered. Pack your sunscreen, hammock and Advil — you’re in for one fun party!