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Sportboat start, with three Minis and Trunk Monkey, Skip McCormack's Farr 30. ©2010

Log of the SSS Farallones

May 22, 2010

For the continuation of this story, please see SSS Farallones Race. We've moved the photos there too, as this log got rather longer than we'd anticipated. If you're just looking at this story for the first time, we recommend starting at the bottom and working your way up, since the entries appear in reverse-chronological order.

2156: French Kiss just finished, and Avalon is close. Two more are close to the South Tower. This will be our last report tonight. We'll have a wrap-up tomorrow.

2150: Libations Too reports his boatspeed as 6-7 knots. He's about four miles west of the South Tower.

2136: As Fayaway, a Ranger 23, approached the finish he called on the VHF to alert the race committee that his battery was very low. He's been jibing back and forth, staying in the middle on his approach.

2120: One division is complete, with all entries started, everyone finished and no one dropped out. That distinction belongs to Division 3, PHRF 104-155.

2109: After that little flurry of finishers, we have a break. Six more boats are still racing. Breeze here is at 13-14 knots, and the current's not too bad close to shore.

2105: Even Keel has finished; Ergo is about to. The Express 27 Taz!! is also approaching the line. "What a day," said skipper George Lythcott. Daisy Cutter, the only Mini to keep racing, is at the St. Francis.

2101: Toucan just called to say that he is about 7 nm out. Darwind is 3.3 nm from the bridge.

2058: Bosporus II holds the distinction of being the first boat to finish after dark. Ergo should be next. Even Keel is about even with St. Francis YC.

2038: Friday Harbor, a Beneteau 323, just finished, as last bits of pink fade from the sky and the X buoy fades into the twilight. We can see five boats within the Bay, but they're moving pretty slow.

2025: The wind speed at GGYC is down to 9-12 knots and the ebb is starting. We can see a couple of boats on our side of the bridge.

2015: After Elise came Sobrante and Dream Chaser. Libations Too, a Pearson 323, called in to say that he is 5 nm outside of the San Francisco Buoy and believes he is the last boat. Twelve remain on the race course.

2006: The Crowther cat Rainbow has finished. Elise, Nathalie Criou's Express 27 is on her way.

2000: Previous SSS Race Chair Max Crittenden's Solar Wind finished. He said, "It was great, until the last five miles when I got stupid." The sun has slipped below the Marin Headlands, but official sunset is not until 2018. The last two boats that we know of are about 15 nm outside the Gate.

1956: The Gibsea 43 No Ka Oi has finished. No Ka Oi is Hawaiian for 'the best'. Wetsu was the first of three Express 27s to finish.

1945: The busy-ness of the commercial traffic continues, with another container ship outbound. We've had a break between finishers, but here comes Sagitta, Walter George's Islander 28, and more.

1930: Sirius, a C&C 37, is approaching the finish; that leaves 20 more still racing, with 24 finished.

1927: The Yankee 30 Seawitch has finished, followed by Emerald, another Yankee 30. So far, almost all boats are finishing without spinnakers, Outsider being a notable exception. The whale has been spotted outbound at the Ferry Building.

1920: The sun is sinking toward the Marin Headlands, making it hard to see the boats that are coming. Radio chatter continues regarding the whale, which was just sighted again. The Islander 36 Cassiopeia just finished.

1915: The wind chill on the race deck is brisk to say the least. We've got a couple of heaters going, and everyone is bundled up against the westerly, but we sympathize with the racers. "It's even cold for a San Francisco summer," commented one of the volunteers.

1910: Robin, a C&C 35 brings up the rear of that little group of finishers.

1905: Sail a Vie, Phil MacFarlane's Ericson 35, has finished; Synthia Petroka's Hawkfarm Eyrie is next. She got the gun for her division. It cost her a spinnaker that had gone to Hawaii twice. Busy vessel traffic this evening, as another inbound ship has just passed under the bridge.

1900: We're seeing gusts up to 25 knots here on the GGYC race deck. Origami, an F-27, just finished, followed by Gavilan, which just scooted by Mirage, who finished on main only after a spinnaker takedown from hell.

1855: Flying a staysail as well as a main and jib, Jabberwock, a Buccaneer 35, was the second multihull to finish.

1845: After some rocking and rolling in the Bay, the Olson 34 Red Sky crossed the finish line. Until they called the race committee, the RC couldn't figure out who the mystery boat was, as Red Sky was not registered. He apologized for accidentally crossing the finish line, and thanked the RC for the race - or non-race - around the island. Thirty boats are still out there, and about seven are inside the bridge, plus another inbound ship.

1834: Ben Mewes on the Black Soo Mirage called in to say he is at Mile Rock. It took him seven hours to get to the turning mark. Meanwhile, a whale has been sighted south of the Bay Bridge.

1830: Tiger Beetle crossed the line a couple of minutes after our previous entry. Shaman, a Cal 40, has just finished. The seas have flattened out, and it looks like the wind has eased up, but the windspeed indicator at GGYC still says 19-20 knots. The wind at the Farallones is still about 10. As soon as the two outbound ships, still neck and neck, passed the Gate, an inbound ship appeared under the bridge.

1820: Dazzler, coming from the north, and Pegasus, a J/35, coming from the south, converged on the finish. Pegasus scooted ahead to get there first. Rob Macfarlane on Tiger Beetle just called in to say he's coming, and "The islands are still there."

1816: Uno will be the first Wyliecat 30 to finish. Dazzler is within the Bay too.

1809: Two ships are outbound, a container ship and a tanker, one on each side of Alcatraz. From our perspective, they look like they could be racing each other. We have a couple more racers coming in, hard to see in the glare of the low-angle sun.

1801: Here comes Coyote! And another has come into sight. Maybe one of the Wyliecats?

1747: An outbound cruise ship just pulled out from the Cityfront. No more finishers on this side of the Gate at the moment.

1745: Twist and Shamrock have finished. Green Buffalo finished at 17:45:15.

1738: Outsider and Tivoli have finished.

17:29:14: Humdinger is the first multihull, second boat to finish. Congratulations to Larry Olsen. We can see Outsider, and Judy Bentsen on Tivoli has radioed in to say she is close.

17:14:33: Trunk Monkey sailed across the finish line! Congratuations to Skip McCormack. 53 boats started, 10 have dropped out, that leaves 42 more to finish. A multihull is on its way... It's Humdinger.

1707: Trunk Monkey is going to finish in about five minutes!

1701: Gavilan says that Vessel Traffic would like the fleet to stay north of the Lightship, as a pilot will be boarding a ship at 1800 south of the Lightship.

1655: Vessel Traffic hailed to advise the racers that there would be three incoming ships from 1800 to 1850. Gavilan is relaying the message to boats which are further away. Tiger Beetle just called to let us know that he is at the Lightship, with a couple of Wyliecats, plus Coyote and Outsider ahead of him. He thinks that Eyrie is not far behind him. While we wait, here's another shot from the start.

1636: Just uploaded a little video of our racers at SE Farallon Island from the webcam.

1617: Two more Minis, Flying Ace and Poco Loco have dropped out. Poco Loco is currently sailing back under the bridge. Meanwhile, we've spotted a couple more boats at the island.

1609: Boat sighted from the Farallones webcam! (but don't all look at once). Wind is at about 10 knots there.

1531: Wind continues to ramp up at GGYC. Buoy reports indicate gusty conditions outside the Gate too. The National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory through Sunday evening. The race commitee, with binocs in hand, are anxiously looking for possible finishers. The VHF has been quiet, as has the voice mail.

1330: If you'd like to see what the Farallon Islands look like right now, go to We haven't spotted any boats on the webcam yet.

1311: The wind has built quite a bit and with it the ebb chop here at GGYC, where the YRA racers are getting blasted by gusts - we just recorded one of 30 knots. However, at the Farallones, the wind is only at 9+ knots. More drop-outs: the Mini Pocket Rocket, the Bristol 29 Skylark, the F-24 Puppeteer and the Wilderness 21 Tinker.

1157: Outsider sent us a little movie at 1035.

1131: Wind reports: Golden Gate YC, up to 20 knots, due west. Lightship at 1050 was 13.6 and the Farallones had 10.8. Berkeley YC is here getting ready to start the HDA/ODCA Spring 1 race.

1117: Windstar, a Worth 40, dropped out at 1110 by VHF. Racers can withdraw via VHF 71 or by voice mail on (866) SAIL SSS (724-5777). Race committee is monitoring both. Racers are absolutely required to call in if they are not going to finish.

1027: Horizon has officially dropped out of the race. "It was a little rougher than I expected," said skipper Bill White.

1000: Tiger Beetle called in to report that an Islander 28, Horizon, is returning, due to a problem with his jib. This is not yet official, as Horizon has not radioed the race committee.

For photos from the start, see our next story.

0942: The starts have been cross-checked. Out of 68 boats signed up, 53 started. All are now beyond the GGB. The slowest boat is Toucan, an Albin Vega 27 rated 240. No Cal 20s! But four Mini Transats are racing.

0926: The northwesterly was brisk at the 0830 warning gun but tapered off during the starting sequence. Several boats, fighting the last of the flood, were quite late at the start, and none were over early. Skippers who found early bits of ebb got to the Golden Gate Bridge first.

At 0630 the breeze at the Lightship was 15 knots from the northwest. Water temperature and air temperature were both 49 degrees. Yeah, San Francisco - home of the 49ers! (Fortunately, the sun has been shining brightly all morning.) At 0850, the Lightship recorded winds at NW 310 degrees true, 13.6 knots, with 17.5-kt gusts. Wave height and direction: 6.6 feet every 10 seconds, WNW 294 degrees.

Race committee volunteers are cross-checking the starting lists and the radio check-in lists. Checking in by VHF is mandatory in SSS races. Despite the light air and the challenging current, so far no one has called to drop out.

0826: Good morning from the Race Deck at Golden Gate Yacht Club, where the Singlehanded Sailing Society is running the Singlehanded Farallones Race. We'll be reporting from this vantage point throughout the day. First warning in a few minutes; we'll be back after the starts, which go through 0900.

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