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Crowd at the meeting
Kame Richards addresses the crowd at the SSS Three Bridge Fiasco skippers meeting. ©2016
Ready for the Three Bridge Fiasco

January 28, 2016

When the Singlehanded Sailing Society reconvened on the evening of Wednesday, January 27, after a brief break between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, some old business came first on the agenda of the meeting held at Oakland Yacht Club.

Bill Erkelens with trophy
Bill Erkelens, Jr., collected his trophy for first overall in October's Vallejo 1-2. He sailed the Wylie Wabbit Jack.

David and Dan
David Morris (left), and Dan Doud were presented with the beautiful new multihull season trophies. Dave sailed his F-27Tri N Fly singlehanded; Dan crewed for his son Darren on the highly successful Corsair 31R Roshambo.

When the skippers meeting for Saturday's Three Bridge Fiasco pursuit race began, outgoing SSS Race Chair Allen Cooper called the 367-boat race the largest in America. "No one has challenged that yet, so it must be true," he said. He made some requests of the gathered crowd of singlehanders and doublehanders.

  • "Do not anchor at the entrance to Pier 39." Whereas ferries and tour boats can generally go around sailboats in open waters, they need to be able to get in and out of their harbors safely.
  • Do not start 30 minutes later than your assigned start time, or you will not be scored.
  • If you see someone in a restricted area and you want to protest them, fly your protest flag, shout out to them, hail on the VHF, notify the race committee and file your protest as stipulated in the Sailing Instructions.
  • No recalls will be hailed for boats over early. "If you're OCS, keep sailing." You'll be charged a 20-minute penalty. "The idea of turning back with 35 Moore 24s coming at you is not fun."
  • If you're finishing after sunset, call in to alert the race committee that you're coming. If you're finishing after dark, light up your sail numbers as you cross. Last year a boat that had finished was 'missing' because it went unnoticed.
  • If you violate one of the restricted areas listed in the SIs, you can't 'unwind'. It doesn't matter if it's deliberate or not.

And that brings us to the 'safety zone' at the east span of the Bay Bridge. In the shadow of Yerba Buena Island the wind goes light. The Coast Guard and CalTrans were allowing only a very narrow sliver for passage under the new span, right up against the shore, west of the old H Pier. Fortunately the race committee was able to gain a concession, and the fleet will be allowed a bit more space. The Additional Sailing Instructions have been updated accordingly, and a chartlet shows the allowed and forbidden zones.

Bay Bridge zones
The east span of the Bay Bridge. The area outlined in green is the new go-zone. Everything to the east of it, in red, is the no-go zone. ©2016

Kame Richards of Pineapple Sails talked to the sailors about race strategy. "Why would 350 boats enter this race?" he asked. "Because it's a huge, long guessing game, always a challenge to the very end. The currents are somewhat predictable. The wind is unpredictable." Kame says that on his boat, the Express 37 Golden Moon, they are always changing their minds, "faster and faster the closer it gets to the start.

"At max ebb is the birth of the flood on the Cityfront. There should be flood all over at 11:20. Wind is the big deal. The last couple of times we went to Yerba Buena first. If it's a westerly it'll die just as you go around the corner. If you're at Red Rock at 5:00 p.m., the water's all going to Stockton, so you'd better hope for a strong northerly.

"Look far ahead of you. See what's happening with the boats that are two miles ahead. Unless you're Richard." (Richard vonEhrenkrook's Cal 20 starts first.) "Thanks Richard, for showing us which way the wind is blowing."

Kame Richards talked about wind and current. ©2016

Kame believes that when you're sailing shorthanded you have fewer distractions, and it's easier to pay attention.

For more tips, see Wednesday's post on 'Lectronic Latitude. But above all, be sure to read the Standing Sailing Instructions and the Three Bridge Fiasco Sailing Instructions, both of which can be found here. Good luck, and we'll see you out there.

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