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The Berkeley Fan

“What the heck is the Berkeley Fan?” you might ask.

That was then…

What was formerly known as the Olympic Circle, and also as the Berkeley Circle, is a region of water west of the Berkeley shoreline. San Francisco Bay racers know this area for its mild currents and nukin’ summer breeze, usually accompanied by drenching chop. Many a regatta is held on these gnarly waters — which are quite a bit tamer in the winter.

graphic of Olympic Circle
As seen in a YRA chartlet from 2007, the ‘OC’ marks formed a nearly perfect circle. ‘D’ is a green government buoy. The stick across the lower right portion of the graphic is the Berkeley Pier.
© 2019 YRA of SF Bay

The Olympic Circle was an old concept. The XOC pin lay in the center of eight other marks, each about one mile away from XOC, north of the crumbling Berkeley Pier. Race courses could be set up without use of temporary inflatable marks and the competitors sent on courses corresponding to the wind direction. For instance, in a northwesterly (a common wind direction), GOC could be the first mark for a windward first leg. Windward-leeward courses could be constructed, or as was popular in previous decades, a triangle-sausage course.

A start at XOC
The XOC starting pin, as seen in a Berkeley Yacht Club Midwinter race a couple of years ago.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

But the Berkeley Flats— they’re called that for a reason — continue to silt up. First the deeper-draft boats started running aground at AOC and complaining to the race committees. Then AOC, BOC and HOC simply became unusable. They’re no longer on station.

This is now…

Chartlet of the Berkeley Fan
An updated chartlet shows the current configuration of the racing area.
© 2019 YRA of SF Bay

For 2019, the Yacht Racing Association changed the area’s designation from “The Berkeley Circle (OC)” to “The Berkeley Fan,” as the remaining marks form more of a fan shape than a circle. (Other marks, including the commonly used GOC and XOC, often go missing too, and race committees use inflatable drop-marks in their place. Frankly, most clubs using these waters are now setting all their own marks.)

BYC drop-mark
This orange pillow has been serving as BYC’s starting pin for the past couple of Midwinters seasons.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

For more information on this and other racing areas on San Francisco Bay, see pages 42-47 of the 2019 Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule.

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