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The Craziest Fiasco Yet

While straining to see anything in gray nothingness, a skipper who has 20+ years of Three Bridge Fiascos under his keel commented: “This is the craziest Fiasco ever!” Even sailors on the smallest boats had their smart phones out trying to ‘see’ ferries, ships, tugs, barges (and some of the competitors) on AIS apps. Others monitored Vessel Traffic Service on VHF 14, as well as 16 and the race channel, 72.

Summer Sailstice in the fog
The Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice sails a counterclockwise course in the low, thick fog. Alcatraz is over there somewhere. Moni Blum and Philip Strause at least got close enough to see the Ranger from the Santa Cruz 27 Wolpertinger.
© 2020 Philip Strause

Saturday’s Bay Tour pursuit race drew 317 entries, not the largest ever, but still the biggest race in the West. Out of those only 42 were able to finish — but even that low number is higher than we expected. After the sailing-blind fog cleared, the wind died and sailors found themselves at the mercy of a building ebb. Red Rock, the mark farthest north, seemed like an unobtainable goal. So huge kudos to those who stuck it out! A westerly breeze did finally fill in as far as Red Rock, but not until around 4:30 p.m.

Off Point Richmond, a cluster of CCW rounders tries to beat north, staying in shallow water, hoping for relief from the ebb.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Among the earliest finishers, Buzz Blackett and Jim Antrim aboard the brand-new (just launched on Friday) all-carbon Antrim 27C. ‘io sneaked across the line in front of Golden Gate Yacht Club more than a minute ahead of the first multihull, Peter Stoneberg and Kyle Gundersen on the super-fast Extreme 40 Shadow. Both completed the course just after 4:30.

Starting area
Race entries don’t come any newer than this carbon Antrim 27 (foreground), seen here getting dropped off in the starting area by a RIB.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Racers have to choose their direction to sail the course, and the order and direction of mark roundings. Blackett reports that ‘io sailed a clockwise course, starting with Blackaller Buoy, through Raccoon Strait in the dying flood, and around Red Rock. They jibed their way on the new ebb to Treasure Island. Then they took advantage of the new breeze much earlier than it reached into the North Bay and those stuck there still trying to get to Red Rock. “A northwesterly breeze between 10 and 12 knots got us to the finish in a hurry, with only five tacks,” Buzz said.

So, the answer to the question, “Which was the right way to go?” was “clockwise” — this year.

Another Girl in the fog.
Cinde Lou Delmas and Milly Biller on the Alerion 38 Another Girl, another CCW boat, made it all the way around the course — just seconds after the 7 p.m. time limit passed. At least her distinctive metallic green paint job made her easier to see in the fog.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The volunteer race committee from the Singlehanded Sailing Society posted results quickly. Find them at We’ll have much, much more on the race and on the new Antrim 27C in the March issue of Latitude 38 (not the February issue — that’s already gone to press).

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When you drop everything . . .
On Saturday, January 4th, I watched as Seaward’s crew brought their vessel neatly to the dock at the Newport Sea Scout base in Southern California.
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