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A Delta Ditch Run Both Fast and Fraught

Brisk breeze and gusty puffs promise two things for the Delta Ditch Run: a fast race with early finish times, and carnage along the 65-mile course.

Heart of Gold at the start
Joan Byrne’s Olson 911S Heart of Gold at the start, run by Richmond Yacht Club north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. We noted quite a bit of south to the breeze in the morning.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Those were the conditions for the 31st running of the race from Richmond to Stockton this past Saturday, June 11. Although no records were broken, they were at least trembling nervously. (The monohull and multihull records were set way back in 1998, by the Santa Cruz 50 Octavia and the D-Class cat Rocket 88, respectively.)

Nelly Belle and Arcadia
The unique Nellybelle, in Light 2, and Arcadia, the winner of Heavy 2, in San Pablo Bay. The two divisions started together.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

In addition to gear failure minor and catastrophic — and sunstroke in 100-degree heat — running aground is among the pitfalls of this tricky course. Several keels found mud or rocks, some just a touch-and-go, others with more stick.

Wiki Wiki Moore 24
The wind came up and got gusty in narrow New York Slough, with several turns requiring jibes. Lots of round-ups and a few round-downs resulted.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The bulk of the fleet arrived plenty early to enjoy the hospitality of Stockton Sailing Club — all outdoors due to COVID. The weather was perfect for a late afternoon/evening of lounging around the vast lawn along the river, chowing down on BBQ, sipping a Mount Gay rum slushie — or laboring to haul out, lower the rig, and pack up.

Sketch at Mark 19
The winning sailors on the Heavy 3-winning Olson 25 Sketch doused right at the notorious Mark 19, the one mark on the course. The San Joaquin River takes a turn to the north here, about three miles east of the Antioch Bridge. It’s a rare Ditch Run that allows for spinnaker carries in this stretch.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

One boat didn’t have to wait for the end of the race to take the mast down — the spinnaker pole did that for them near Little Venice Island around 6 p.m. Richard vonEhrenkrook’s Cal 20 Can O’Whoopass had a good chance at first place overall on corrected time when an ill wind ended their race. We’ll have more on that subplot and more photos from the race in the July issue of Latitude 38, when we’ll also hear from the small boat that did win overall — Scott Sellers’ and Harrison Turner’s J/70 1FA.

Medusa aground
A couple of guys had to get off the boat to push the Santa Cruz 27 Medusa out of the weeds and off the rocks.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

In the meantime, see results at

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