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Pull the Sheet

The weekend forecast for the Corinthian Yacht Club’s Midwinters was a bit foreboding. Squalls, rain, even hail, all with cold breezes combined with a massive, runoff-enhanced ebb current. So it was with some irony that we found ourselves on Sunday hiding from the ebb behind Angel Island while the race committee put the starting sequence on wind hold and we relaxed in calm, sunny conditions.

The Sheet

As we puttered along, the call suddenly went out to “Pull the sheet.” In fact, along with the many large logs and other debris being washed into the Bay, was a large sheet of plastic that needed rescuing. We pulled out our trusty boat hook (which doubles as a downwind whisker pole), did a quick U-turn so that crewmember Michael Rossi could pull the sheet into the hands of John Vreeland, thus saving Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup Project from having to drag one more piece of plastic from the Pacific gyre.

Pulling a plastic sheet from San Francisco Bay
This was not a normal fishing expedition but it was a big catch!
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Beyond the Sheet

The entire weekend turned out better than forecast, with very little rain. Besides a major squall passing through right during Saturday’s starting sequence, the skies cleared and the breeze was brisk and manageable, which everyone greatly appreciated as they needed all of it to fight the ebb around the course.

Beneteau 36.7 Mistral
The Beneteau 36.7 Mistral found the current too much to manage at just the wrong time.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John
SR33 Kuda Wuda
The SR33 Kuda Wuda showed off on a sparkling day of racing on Sunday.
© 2019 John Vreeland

This was the last weekend of Corinthian’s two-weekend Midwinter Series, one that put everyone’s full complement of sailing abilities to the test. Crisp color transitions highlighted tide and wind lines, but you still had to figure out which side to be on. Then you had to find just the right combination of wind and current while searching for tactical advantage against your fleet.

J/120 Shenanigans
The PHRF Class 2 winner, the J/120 Shenanigans, shows the breeze was right for a kite big enough to block out the Salesforce Tower.
© 2019 John Vreeland

It was a classic brain teaser of the sort that makes racing the Bay so endlessly interesting. Unlike most sailing, the upwind legs seemed to flash by in nanoseconds, whereas downwind legs against the ebb were on ‘extended play’. On our Ranger 33 Summer Sailstice, our top speed over ground was 10.1 knots upwind while we clawed our way around Harding Rock downwind at about two knots. (Have you ever thought about what kind of chain and ground tackle is holding the Harding Rock buoy in place on a day like yesterday?)

The course.
It was all backward. The top speeds were upwind and the slowest speeds downwind. At least over the bottom.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We’ll have more in Racing Sheet in the March issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime you can see who beat the ebb and their competitors by checking out the race results here.

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