'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.
Brad Cameron’s Mull 22 Pocket Rocket is 2nd to the Bridge, was laying about at Svendsons for over a decade - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
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.
Ray Lotto on E-27 El Raton gambled on the Counter Clockwise rout and took second in the 20 boat e-27 fleet - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
With the majority fleet headed north, Darren Douds Coarsair 31R 'Roshambo' heads off in clear air - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
With the replacement Blackaller Buoy buried in there somewhere, the fleet gathered for the 1st of several togetherness assembly’s. - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
Ben Landons T650 Flight Risk takes a flyer opting for the great circle route - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
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.
Steve Hixon’s Santa 35 'Break Out' cruises past Camp Reynolds on Angel Island - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
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.
Roe Patterson’s Moore 24 ' Mooretician' was the 1st to round the Rocks about 20 minutes to noon - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
Not far behind was John Kernot on Moore 24 Banditos with Scott Easom’s Farr 30 'Eight Ball' in hot pursuit.
For some reason, 8-Ball was not listed as competing, which we find quite odd. - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
Urs Rothatcher with Matt Noble was hard to miss on the course on his brand new SL 33
'Bridge Runner' We’ll have some video of fast cat’s 1st race in the next couple days. - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
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.
As the counter-clockwise contingent’s last stragglers emerged from the lee of Yerba Buena, the Clockwise contingent arrived, and began stacking up like salmon in a river, awaiting the next pulse of energy to push though the obstacle ahead of them. - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
3 Bridge Fiasco 2012 - Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©
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!
by Erik Simonson
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11:06 PM Mon 30 Jan 2012GMT
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