An 8 a.m. gray start, ending in a black nighttime finish for all but one of the 37 boats in five classes that spent the past Saturday puzzling how to sail doublehanded around the Farallon Islands before midnight, couldn’t obscure the satisfaction that comes from the challenge. For the past 40+ years, the Bay Area Multihull Association has run the Doublehanded Farallones race to give both multihull and monohull sailors a chance to test their boats, skills and strategies to be first around the Farallones with a crew of just two.
The skippers’ meeting on Thursday optimistically showed light winds slowly building to moderate by late afternoon, giving everyone (including the race committee) the hope that they’d be home in time for dinner. Regardless, the midnight cutoff was clearly explained just in case the forecasts and reality clashed. The ensuing clash with reality played itself out on the ocean, as the breeze never really built unless you were good enough to sail through the doldrums and catch the evening breeze by the Golden Gate on the return into the Bay.
Annoyingly, one boat, the Seacart 30 GP+ Bottle Rocket, sailed by David Schumann and Trevor Baylis, did actually finish before dinner — they came in just before 6 p.m. The rest of the fleet nursed their boats through the light air as daylight faded. At about that same time, we were aboard our friend Randy Gridley’s Sabre 38 Aegea hoisting the asymmetrical cruising chute as we rounded the Farallones, doing mental calculations about whether it might be possible to finish by the midnight cutoff. Our 2.2 knots of boat speed, with 25 miles to go, convinced us to fire up the diesel to join only five other boats to DNF, with admiration for all those who succeeded under sail alone.
It was a long but pleasant day on the ocean, with flat water, relatively warm air, and the occasional whale spouting to distract you from your search for williwaws, cat’s paws and zephyrs crossing the Gulf of the Farallones. Despite the light winds there was always enough to keep you moving and believing you were going to be home before midnight.
After that annoying performance by the blazingly fast trimaran, the next boat to finish was a monohull. Dave Hodges and Tim Cordrey, sailing David’s Farr 38 Timber Wolf, added another win in the Monohull 1 class to his stellar record. From there, finishers rolled in right up until 11:35 p.m., when the Beneteau 10R CruzSea Baby, sailed by Brian and Amanda Turner, finished up the night. Six minutes separated the J/120s Hokulani and Twist, with Nathalie Criou and Blake Loncharich aboard the Beneteau Figaro Envolée in between, at just a few minutes before 10 p.m. Everyone radioing in at the finish thanked the race committee for their late-night dedication and a great day on the water.
We’ll bring you more on BAMA’s Doublehanded Farallones Race in the November issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, you can see the full results from the efforts of all these colorful sailors on an otherwise colorless day right here.