As we headed out from Sausalito in our photoboat at 6 p.m. Friday evening, the sun was still so hot that we thought, "Damn, forgot the sunblock." But a few minutes later, as we approached the Cityfront, we were pulling on our fleece and foulies.
As Mark Twain observed so long ago, summer in San Francisco can be on the chilly side, especially when the City becomes enveloped by a thick blanket of fog. But gray skies aren’t enough to deter diehard sailors from pursuing their passion. Friday night, for example, several dozen boatloads of racers were out running the buoys during the Golden Gate and South Beach YC‘s Beer Can Races. Hey, even if it had been raining, the experience would have been more fun than sitting in the Bay Area’s mind-numbing ‘Friday getaway’ traffic.
To be fair, we should point out that it’s often sunny and clear for evening races in the City. It was just our bad luck to focus on them during a particularly monochromatic evening. But we had fun anyway, and we’re pretty sure the hundred or more participating sailors did too.
All throughout the Greater Bay Area, beer can races continue until fall. Check out the complete schedule in Latitude 38‘s Calendar. If you don’t have a boat of your own, we suggest showing up early at a sponsoring yacht club with a six-pack of cool beverages, some snacks and a smile, and you’ll be likely to find a ride. For newcomers to racing, beer can races are an ideal means of getting some hands-on experience in a decidedly low-key setting. And you don’t have to be a member of the sponsoring club.
Despite what the mainstream media — who consistently display their ignorance of all things nautical — would have you believe, the crew on the 60-ft eco-cat Plastiki were not rescued off the coast of Australia this weekend. Readers will recall that the boat, built from 12,500 empty soda bottles, was towed out of San Francisco Bay on March 20 by an outboard-powered RIB. In fact, the plan all along was to hire tow boats at each stop as Plastiki has limited mobility and no engine.
The crew had originally planned to stop in Coffs Harbor, and had pre-arranged a tow there. But when they realized that a storm brewing in the Tasman would push them farther north — away from their final destination of Sydney — they decided to get towed in early. They consulted with the Queensland Water Police for suggestions, and contracted for the 42-ft Australian Volunteer Coast Guard vessel Mooloolaba Rescue to tow them into Mooloolaba yesterday. No fuss, no muss.
Plastiki is still on schedule to arrive in Sydney on July 25.
With the bulk of the ’10 Pacific Cup fleet safely moored in Kaneohe Bay, all seven divisions have been decided. The final overall finishing order was remarkably balanced considering that some crews were confounded at the beginning of the race by light to no breeze, before they were blessed with a decidedly northern route, and breeze that reached the high-20s.
Division D, which started a week ago last Thursday, looked as if it would sweep the top spots overall as the rich got richer with strengthening breeze and nary a hole in their way. But while the overall winner, Jack Taylor’s Dana Point-based SC 50 Horizon legged out over the entire fleet, the big boats in Division E had different ideas. Both Chip Megeath’s Division E-winning R/P 45 Criminal Mischief and Hector Velarde’s runner-up SC 70 Mirage leap-frogged into second and fourth overall, respectively. Between them, Bill Helvestine’s Division D runner-up, the SC 50 Deception, held onto third overall, and Steve Carroll and Patrick Lewis aboard Carroll’s Express 27 Tule Fog slingshotted around almost everyone to win Doublehanded 2 and round out the top five, despite the handicap of their Tuesday start.
Pretty much everyone we’ve talked to described the ’10 Pacific Cup as a really wet and cold race, so much so that for more than one boat, making a big move south halfway through the race was as much an issue of race strategy as one of comfort — they wanted to warm up! Horizon navigator Jon Shampain, who has done “more than a dozen and less than 18,” Hawaii races, said that he’d never sailed so far north. Sailing the northerly course meant that many boats reported seeing an inordinate amount of trash as they steamrolled through the gyre. The weird weather also meant that the normal tradewind direction of 65° was replaced by a breeze that oscillated from 20° to 110°, frequently!
For many of the boats, it was their fastest Hawaii race ever, and the elapsed-time winner, Australian Alan Brierty’s R/P 63 Limit, set the bar with a time of 6d, 16h, 19m over the 2,070-mile course. Horizon‘s time of 8d, 11h, 46m is, as far as we know, far and away the fastest time to Hawaii by a SC 50, ever and would likely still be, even if sailed at the TransPac distance of 2,225 miles. Criminal Mischief — keep in mind, it’s a 45-ft boat — sailed the course in 7d, 10h, 21m!
As for the rest of the divisions, Dylan Benjamin and Rufus Sjoberg sailed Benjamin’s Dogpatch 26 Moonshine to an easy win in Doublehanded 1, and Pat Broderick, Gordie Nash and Michael Andrews sailed Broderick’s Wyliecat 30 Nancy to a mere 45-minute win in Division A. Dean Treadway’s well-traveled Farr 36 Sweet Okole handily won Division B, and Division C went to James Gilmore’s Columbia 30 Uncontrollable Urge. The scene here at Kaneohe YC has picked up steam in the last couple days. Many of the top boats actually beat not only their accomodation reservations, but also the bulk of the party preparations and the sizeable cadre of volunteers that’s been working around the clock to get boats moored, and properly greet crews with leis and trays of mai tais. As usual, the reception has been as warm as the daytime temperatures, and when not doing boat clean-up, the crews have been busy lounging by the pool and under the tents on the Kaneohe YC lawn. We’ll have more on the race in the August issue of Latitude 38, until then, visit the link above for more on the race including updated finish times.