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Not a Complete Fiasco

This year’s Three Bridge Fiasco, sailed on San Francisco Bay on Saturday, January 26, was nowhere near the Fiasco it could have been. For instance, during last year’s race a raging ebb sucked most boats out the Gate, and only four entries out of 317 starters were able to finish. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the years when 100 boats will squeeze through the pursuit race’s finish line off Golden Gate Yacht Club at the same time, from different directions. That can lead to long delays in sorting out and posting results, irritating the competitors eager for instant gratification in the Internet age.

GGYC race deck
Cover your ears! One SSS volunteer fired the first gun at 9:50, signaling a 10-minute warning for the first start, while another volunteer hoisted the yellow flag (formerly a ‘shape’).
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Cal 20 start
Richard vonEhrenkrook and Rachel Porter nail the first start on the Cal 20 Can O’Whoopass. The Yankee Dolphin Old School and Cal 20 Slainte were more conservative. GGYC replaced their starting buoy X with a yellow inflatable mark.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

This year, 274 out of 334 entries finished, and in a manner allowing the Singlehanded Sailing Society to post preliminary results only one day later. “The wind forecast looked pretty grim this morning,” wrote PRO and SSS race chair Jim Vickers on Saturday night, “but it worked out well. It’s a good thing all of you followed my checklist and affirmed ‘I will finish the Three Bridge Fiasco this year’ when you woke up. Pending a review of OCS, the winners appear to be Mama Tried in the Doublehanded Multihull Division, and the J/105 Advantage3 in the Doublehanded Monohull.” Another J/105 was not so lucky. “One boat was taken out by a whale and had to be towed in, so that was a first for the SSS.”

The race did prove to be a fiasco for that one boat. Adam Spiegel / Ben Pedrick on the J/105 Jam Session had rounded Blackaller Buoy (the Golden Gate Bridge mark) to starboard and headed up toward Red Rock (the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge mark), when they collided with what they believe was a whale that broke their rudder. Other racers had sighted the whale earlier in the waters between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. “I saw a whale in the Bay on the way to the start line, in the vicinity of Harding Rock around 9:10 a.m.,” Bruce Munro advised the SSS. Bruce and  Mark D’Arcy were sailing the Sabre 402 Princess. “Having a race boat wiped out by a whale is a first for any regatta on the Bay that I know about.” A RIB sped out from the marina to go to the aid of the damaged boat.

Blackaller Buoy rounding
The racers had plenty of northerly breeze on the Cityfront for a fast reach to Blackaller. The ebb gave them a boost of extra SOG.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“I’m happy to report that 100% of you either finished or called in your retirement. Thank you all for this,” wrote Jim Vickers in an email to the fleet. “We had a couple ‘crasher’ boats that crossed the line but weren’t entered. It took three hours to figure out why our number of finishers plus the DNFs/DNCs didn’t sum to the number of entrants.”

Bay Bridge East Span
The counterclockwise Bay Bridge rounding. The Bay Bridge is the only one of the three bridges the course actually rounds, sailing under both spans.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“Our finish data is perfect, in that I have time-stamped photos of every boat that agree with both sets of recorder data. The start is a separate issue, with lots of 20-minute penalties accrued for being in the box, starting early, starting early and often in a few cases, and a whole lot of Moore 24s OCS. This will take time to sort out. Maybe by Wednesday this will have all settled out.” In the meantime you can check preliminary results on Jibeset.

Moore 24 start
The Moore 24 start. Most of the 27-boat fleet started west to east, on port, headed toward Treasure Island.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The SSS will hand out awards for the top finishers and shirts for all racers at the trophy meeting on Wednesday, February 6. Oakland Yacht Club in Alameda will host the gathering starting at 7:30 p.m. The SSS hopes that everyone will pick up their shirts. We hope that all the division winners will show up to tell their tales of success. And, we’ll want to take pictures of the overall winners for a story in the March issue of Latitude 38.

Another Girl
“My first time singlehanded!” Cinde Lou Delmas exclaimed. Her distinctive green Alerion 38 Another Girl is usually seen packed to the gunwales with sailors of all ages.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
James at the wheel
James Dilworth, at the helm of the Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice, appears to be saying, “Third mark, Red Rock, in the rearview mirror; check!” James is the developer of Latitude 38’s new WordPress website, and he also sails the Santana 22 Pip.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John


  1. noone 5 years ago

    I guess only doublehanders count.

    • Christine Weaver 5 years ago

      The singlehanded division is still only preliminary.

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