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Jeannette Daroosh gets ready to throw the anchor off the bow of the Catalina 38 Harp, in GGYC's last midwinter of the season. ©2012 norcalsailing.com
Seaweed Soup Midwinters
March 5, 2012
Saturday's Golden Gate Yacht Midwinters, the final race of the series, experienced the lightest air yet. A languid northerly was not enough to counteract the rain-enhanced ebbing current, but the race committee stayed on schedule with rolling starts. While some boats managed to escape the start line off Golden Gate YC, a mixed fleet clustered around the line, drifting backwards and forwards over it, some dropping anchors to avoid drifting all the way back to next door neighbor St. Francis YC.
Before the sequence got underway, PRO Matt Jones gave an odd instruction, and repeated it adamantly. He announced, "Make sure you have your protest flag out. If your protest flag is not ready, you're not ready to race." During the sequence he also reminded some of the racers about motoring after their warning.
About the time boats started giving up and dropping out, the race committee abandoned the race for everyone except the first three divisions, PHRF 1, 2 and 3. Not everyone heard the three shotguns or the announcement on the VHF however. In PHRF 4, Arcadia, Gordie Nash's modified Santana 27, and Uno, Steve Wonner's Wyliecat 30, match-raced within ten feet of each other for the third leg of their course, from Point Knox buoy to the temporary A buoy off St. Francis YC. "We sailed the course fine," said Gordie. They brought the northerly with them. "We crossed the line first and didn't understand why we didn't get a gun or even a horn," said Gordie's wife, Ruth Suzuki. If Uno had won this race, they would have finished the series first in their division; Arcadia would have won the series if their division had not been abandoned As it happened, Steve Waterloo's Cal 40 Shaman, which never escaped the misery at the start line but had been in first place going into this race, won PHRF 4.
About the time that the last boats still racing in PHRF 3 found the wind near Alcatraz, the RC abandoned their division too. An outcry on the VHF didn't help; once the decision was made, the RC had to stick with it. They also shortened the course for PHRF 1 and 2 to one lap around instead of two.
The leaders of each of those two divisions were battling it out for the big prize, the Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Perpetual Trophy, a big silver bowl. If Brad Copper's Tripp 43 TNT won PHRF 1, and Scott Easom's Farr 30 Eight Ball didn't win PHRF 2, then the overall trophy would go to TNT. If both boats won their divisions, then Eight Ball would hold onto the trophy, which they won last year. And that's what happened.
After the awards were handed out, we asked PRO Matt Jones about his announcements on the radio at the start. Regarding the motoring issue, he said that he'd been mistaken, that your engine has to be turned off at your prep, not your warning. Regarding the bit about the protest flag, the series had several protests this year where the flag was displayed late. "When you're racing on a lee shore, and you call for sea room, you need to be able to back it up with a flag."
For complete results of the series, see www.ggyc.org.