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Southern Spars - North Technology

Single Handed Sailing Society's 2012 3 Bridge Fiasco

by Erik Simonson on 31 Jan 2012
Jackie Philppott and her Cal 20 Dura Mater were the 1st to the Bay Bridge Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
The Single Handed Sailing Society's 2012 3 Bridge Fiasco welcomed 334 registered boats to take part in the competition. The numbers this year were staggering but, still short of the record.

As the forecast neared, any and all fears of dampness were alleviated, and the new concern became the wind, or lack thereof but, as dawn broke on the San Francisco Bay Area, sailors and organizers were joyed to find that the breeze was back in the picture! Then they were posted with the never ending question, which way to go?

If you are unfamiliar with the 3 Bridge Fiasco, it's premise is simple. Take one start finish line, three obstacles placed near the San Francisco Bay's three centrally located bridges, and go around them and through the start line any which way you want.


The Single Handed Sailing Society originally only had a handful of takers the first time around and the idea of fiasco
was quite contained compared to numbers of entrants in recent years. With the start pushed forward to 9:00 AM this year and the last scheduled for just after 11:00 AM, the theory is the slower first starters will be long gone before the faster boats get going.

With a brisk Northerly in the mid teens at the start, and a forecasted building flood, a majority of the fleet opted to take a clockwise approach, with Blackaller first, then ride the tide to Red Rocks in the North Bay, but that was not the only option.





Raccoon Straights offered the best current option for north bound passengers, and the vast majority opted for the scenic route, riding the tide and were greeted by a couple dozen seals and sea lions who taking advantage of the mackerel run.


The ride from Raccoon to Red Rocks was pleasant as it was smooth, and many of the crews began reducing layers
as the temps began to rise. Rounding rock just south of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge is on of the major milestones of the regatta. An this year with the Northerlies still holding steady in the 5-8 knot range it means a nice down hill ride is in the forecast.




After rounding Red Rocks, the fleet spread out pretty well, and it was at times hard to discern which routes were being favored, but as the fleet of now southbound sailors reached the Treasure Island Area, the regrouping began in earnest.



Once through the Bay Bridge Narrows, the fleet was blessed with glorious, mirror like conditions the water skiers dream about.

At one point there must have been well over a third of the fleet compacted on the south side of the Bay Bridge, proof positive that ratings systems was working well. Despite the general lightness of wind, a positive and happy vibe rolled through the fleet, after all it's nearly February and while many of our friends and family are shoveling snow before frostbiting, the only frost bite anyone suffered this day was from leaving their paws on an ice cold frosty one too long!

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