Island Yacht Club's Silver Eagle Long Distance inside the Bay race 2011 was held Saturday on San Francisco Bay.
The D Cat Rocket 88 was first to finish, completing the 50 mile course in just four hours and twenty minutes!
Ushered in with a heaping helping of a deepening marine layer and brisk winds, 15 boats from three classes started promptly at 10:30 AM at the St FYC, windward to Blackaller, then cracked off Harding Rock, then Blossom Rock before heading to points North. Oh but then once you reach the Peteluma River entrance, you sail back south, eventually ending up in either traction or at the Island Yacht Club itself in the Oakland/ Alameda Estuary.
The two boats with PHRF's above 120 were entitled to sail a slightly shorter version of the course described above, The Eaglet, just a mere 31.8 nm version. We receive some really great reports from some of the participants, so without further adieu, here they are:
Greg Mitchell: Cotour 34' 'Hapa Girl'
Blowing dogs off chains on the delivery over had us thinking a reef - but as we got over to the Fancy it moderated quite a bit. Puffy, but generally light at the start - and more SW in the breeze than expected, which proved to be the case the whole day. Uneventful rounding at Blackaller, and off to Little Harding - which would normally be a screecher reach, but not today. The F27s all threw up kites and we were left underpowered with the screecher. So - off with that and up with the assym, and off we go.
Those minutes, made longer as we were shorthanded put us a little further back. Around LH, and now the breeze is up, can't lay Alcatraz, shoot - can barely point about Berkeley Pier so down with the assym, and back up with the screech, get around Alcatraz, and back up with the assym. Did I mention we were shorthanded?
Get around blossom and settle in for a long reach up to Petaluma. Slowly chasing down the last of the F27s, a nice long broad reach at which point I start to feel spasms in my ribs, seems I strained them somewhere in all the sail changes. We get to Red Rock right behind the F boat - and decide that since it's DDW all the way to Petaluma, we'd try the big symmetric. Blowing about 18 or so.
Up goes the big kite - figure out the compass course, and aim dead at the mark - doing 10s and 11s the whole way. That F boat was flying angles, and would come by a bit ahead, next time a bit behind, etc all the way up there. Crew got a good break during this 1/2 hour - but the back was starting to tighten up pretty good.
Another uneventful mark rounding, and now the San Pablo Bay is showing it's fury - solid, short spaced chop. The F boat rolls in a reef and they're just gone. Bye bye. We struggle a bit - decide to put in the reef - goes pretty well, and the boats much happier. Up to china beach, tack to the refinery, back to San Rafael bay, and now tack to just below Red Rock.
Decide at that point to retire so we ignore the restrictions around the long wharf. The angles are such that it would've been a straight shot to the south bay, barring any headers around the lee of Angel.
Tie up about 3:30'ish or so.
One small break - a reefing pad eye, but otherwise an inexpensive day on the water.
Time to convert the boat to cruising mode now - off to the delta in a couple of weeks. Gotta get the back in shape
Greg Nelsen Azzura 310 'Outsider'
On the Azzura 310 we went with just three.... Rob and 'Sid' (Daniel) from the Doyle loft were able to join me. The breeze was on for the commute from Alameda to the St. Francis YC. As the start approached the wind moderated a bit and we got underway. We could have had a better beat to Blackaller as we got pushed over a few times from Starboard boats hitching toward shore but we were still in touch rounding the mark.
The 'full' crewed boats (Henderson, 2x FT10, U24) all got their kites up before us but once ours was pulled we pull toward the front. Several boats went real high toward Raccoon Straight but we held our course dead on Little Harding with the boat breaking loose on the pulls onto full plane. On the way there we saw the Hendo go bald headed and then spin around into the wind and drop their main....... not sure what happened but they were out.
Gybed around Little Harding and knew we were not going to be able to lay Blossom Rock with the A2 spinnaker up. Carried it with the main fully unloaded and as close to the wind as we could to hold our line under Alcatraz. We finally dropped the kite and jib reached our way toward Blossom. One FT10 dropped with us and the other fell way off course until they dropped. We gybed around Blossom and kept jib reaching until under Angel Island.
We set the masthead reaching kite and three sailed reached to Red Rock. The Tigers were coming down carrying big kites so we did a quick change back to the A2. We worked our way with building breeze into San Pablo Bay. The breeze went full on and we in the mid-teens with burst to 17k+ the rest of the way to the turning mark near the entrance to the Petaluma River.
The next mark was in the South Bay so we knew we were in for a beating, literally. We tucked in a reef since the main was useless and pumping. Even with the reef in we were sailing with just the jib. With a bit of the ebb remaining our speed over ground stayed above 7k. We had to throw in a handful of tacks to make it over Richmond. We noticed one FT10 behind us had dropped their main and were beating with the jib only. The wind died a bit in the Richmond Riviera so we shook out the reef.
Our upwind line had us smack in the middle of Treasure Island so the choice was made to take a hitch over instead of pressing under. A bad choice in hindsight as it took two hitches to clear the island. We were off jib reaching again doing 8.5k+ on our way to the southerly turning mark off Army St.... to tight to carry the kite. At this point we noticed a FT10 was still heading to weather after TI back to South Beach so they had retired.
We jib reached back to the Navel Air Station entrance mark and then hardened up for the last 'weather' mark. The spinnaker was up quickly after that and we had a fairly normal run down the estuary with a container ship doing a spin in the turning basin so that made the pass a bit tricky with the spinnaker up. The wind went light and forward off the Encinal YC so we dropped the kite for a bit and then it went back up for a short bit before the finish.
It was a very fast VMG race as we covered the 49nm course in 7h, 8m. The Ultimate 24 sailed a good race, finished 41 minutes after us but nipped us on corrected by 3.5 minutes. Tough upwind conditions for a 24ft lightweight so they did a great job.
Andrew Scott F-27 'Papillon'
Despite not having the warm weather of the 4th of July weekend, the wind filled in early and stayed late. So the 2011 edition of the Silver Eagle was notable for the lack of wind holes that usually dot the course. Papillon got a good start on port and had a good beat up to Blackaller.
We immediately started to drop back due to the fact that it took a long time to raise our chute. My crew, Andrew and Bruce were doing a great job, but I had forgotten to re-pack the spinnaker, so it was a mess. When we got it sorted out, the other F-27 in the race, Peregrine Falcon had squeaked by us to leeward and we were playing catch up.
Catch up was going pretty well until crevice corrosion in the stainless at the top of the spinnaker sock released the spinnaker with a pop! Oops, another thing I should have checked. We recovered some ground by getting to Red Rock via Richmond while the lead boats stalled some in the Angel Island wind shadow, although that shadow was smaller than usual.
The sail in San Pablo bay was rollicking with 12-14 knots boat speed and low 20s true wind speed. We had one stuff that lifted the stern out of the water, but the chute was eased quickly enough so we were off to the races again. The beat upwind went well for us so we were able to advance in the fleet. Life was good until we came out of the Angel Island wind shadow going back towards the south bay and got hit by a gust. We completely buried the leeward float as I (see a pattern here?) lost my footing and was not able to release the main sheet.
Luckily, heading up kept us from heading over, but we then lost time putting in a reef. From then on we saw lighter wind and bluer skies until we reached the warm, flat-water finish at Island Yacht Club. As always, a great tour of the bay, a fun day on the water, and a big thank you to Andrew and Bruce!
The D class catamaran, Rocket 88, won the multihull division with a screaming time of four hours twenty minutes for the 49.5 mile course. Peregrine Falcon corrected to second finishing in 6 hours 14 minutes. For Pete's Sake led the sportboats and Phoenix won the PHRF > 120 group.
Fabio Maino: Flying Tiger 'Centomiglia'
I love this race! It didn't end up as we wanted, but the long spi ride from AI to Petaluma with sustained speed of 18+ was worth every penny (and re-paid in advance for the long beat back to the central bay).
After a decent start we hoisted at Blackaller and kept the spi up until Alcatraz. White sail reach to blossom, jibe and white sails to AI. Then we hoisted the reacher, a few boat lengths from the other Tiger, and we kept trading jibes, speed always in the mid teens, all the way to Petaluma.
Outsider was well in front, with their large spi up they can run very deep, and fast. With our little reacher we were zooming back and forth, crew grinning from ear to ear trading places with the other tiger a few times.
It's too bad there aren't a few more FT10s around the bay to play with: it's just so cool when we can race boat for boat (by the way there is one up for sale in alameda for small change, for a 33 footer that can sail in the high teens from May to September).
We rounded the Petaluma Channel marker and San Pablo was windy and nasty, especially the first mile after the marker where it's very shallow. Back to Castro rock we cracked off a few degrees, and I told the crew to watch for the restricted zone off the Richmond Wharf.
After a short discussion if there was such a thing like a restricted zone in the race, we were trying to determine where the hell was 2 QR, when we got a courtesy call from Outsider telling us that 2QR was on our starboard... Quick check with the GPS would confirm it, and someone on board suggested it was time to crack the beer open and pass the sandwiches.
The reach across the slot was great with kite surfers and windsurfers zooming all around the boat. The condition in the South bay were milder, and the final spinny run to Alameda would have been a great way to finish the day, but it wasn't going to happen this year.