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Wind Versus King Tides at the Corinthian Midwinters

The rain stopped, the clouds parted, the sun shone, the wind blew and the king-tide, mountain-runoff-reinforced current ripped through the Bay, leaving most racers in the Corinthian midwinters wondering if they would ever finish a race against the ebb. Despite relatively light winds predicted for Saturday, the race committee made the bold choice of sending the fleets across the Slot, through the swirling whitewater rapids and practically surfable standing waves. Magically they were right, and most boats finished the race.

CYC PHRF 1 Start
The weekend started out perfectly and stayed that way. PHRF 1 gets off the line on Saturday.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

There were wind holes, eddies, bold current lines and puffs that somehow combined to allow most boats to move forward. Aboard our Sabre 38 Finistere, we spent what felt like an hour in a race with the stationary Sutro Tower. A slowly building westerly and final attainment of the Cityfront threw us and others a lifeline to round Fort Mason buoy. We thought they were crazy to send us that way, but it was a long but perfect course.

Cal Maritime Academy TP52 Heather
Cal Maritime Academy’s new-to-them TP52 Heather, with coach Jeff Thorpe aboard, showed her speed with a 40-minute margin in her win on Saturday. Touching the bottom looking for tide relief on Sunday required the engine and withdrawal.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The muddy brown water pouring out of the Delta was littered with logs and other flotsam and jetsam, adding one more navigational hazard to the potholed race course.

Spindrift on the committee boat.
Other hazards of light air and big currents intruded in the day, but the anchor held, races continued uninterrupted, and no damage was done.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

If you were sitting on a park bench the day might have felt chilly, but geared up for racing and working the boat the temperature was ideal. Sunglasses and sunscreen were the order of the day. The Saturday evening party with band, buffet dinner, and a boisterous, social crowd was a reminder of pre-pandemic race parties.

Harding Rock buoy
Another fierce competitor on the course was Harding Rock buoy, which passed us at about five knots headed to Berkeley.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The forecast for current on Sunday was similar but, thankfully, more breeze was forecast to help everyone duel with the current and one another. Another downcurrent, reaching start to a set mark off Little Harding before a turn to weather and a long beat to YRA mark #19, R “8” in the North Bay, once again had us questioning the wisdom of the race committee. Getting through Raccoon Strait in the lee of north winds blowing over Tiburon seemed questionable. Once again it was a great call. Our wisdom has always been in question.

Raccoon Strait
The intensity of the building northerly vanished in Raccoon Strait. Despite the appearance of serenity this was a tense moment, sticking our bow back into current off Elephant Rock.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

There were moments in Raccoon Strait when emerging on the east side looked darn near impossible. Fortunately, our “back-of-the-pack” position gave us a motivational view of the success of others. Everyone persevered by latching onto whatever puffs came by and eventually found some steady breeze that overcame the relentless ebb that was conspiring against us all.

Jib Marten's Worth 40 Freedom
Jib Martens and family aboard their Worth 40 Freedom working hard in a nip-and-tuck battle with Harding Rock.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

As predicted, the wind did pick up later on Sunday afternoon, making finishing the course a breeze — as long as you didn’t break anything. The big sails that felt good at the beginning of the day were now overpowering, and current became more of an afterthought as the wind demanded more attention. We’d show pictures from the final beat but our hands were full!

The results from the two-weekend, four-race, one-throwout series show a lot of ties in each class. Names at the top of the class lists are Farr 52 Zamazaan, Azzura 1000 Outsider, Custom Frers 40 Jeannette, Sabre Spirit Rhapsody, Express 27 Salty Hotel, Mull/Nash hybrid Arcadia, Worth 40 Freedom and the Tartan Ten Topgallant. That all looks good now, but those places are far from secure. It will all get settled in February.

The king tides were powerful but the wind won. We hope the weather is as next month. Full results here.


  1. Vince Casalaina 1 week ago

    More like lack of wind and massive current flow. If you miss a mark and get dragged down current, turn on the motor and go home. Saturday was much more wind and slightly less current – much more fun.

  2. Charlie Nichols 1 week ago

    Loved your article! Great write-up and numerous too! Glad to see others often question RC wisdom – and sailing in MB where the king tides have meant some crazy current it’s good to see others overcome nature! Nice job!

  3. milly Biller 1 week ago

    Very fun and interesting racing- both days- and they were pretty different ! On Sat, we beat feet to the City , and on Sun we beat feet over to the Tiburon shore. Both seemed like the right move. Fun weekend of sailing !
    Thanks Corinthian ! Sailing with my dear friend Cinde Delmas on her beautiful boat Another Girl.

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Southbound Sailors
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