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Hang 20
The Express 27 Hang 20 exits the Bay in the OYRA Duxship Race on May 21. ©2016
OYRA Duxship

May 25, 2016

The 2016 OYRA Duxship Race got underway from the Golden Gate Yacht Club on time at 12:00, with wind and against a 2.6-knot flood. The Encinal YC Race Committee, with PRO and YRA chairman Charles Hodgkins in charge, got things rolling with no hitches. Following the race, several sailors remarked about how well the start went. OYRA established the noon start time instead of the usual 10:00 to allow the peak of the flood to pass before the race started.

Pat Broderick's Wyliecat 30 Nancy flirts with the beach-goers. ©2016

After starting, boats hugged the shoreline, short-tacking up the beach, giving brunch diners at St. Francis YC and dog walkers along Crissy Field close-up views of bottom paint. The few boats that ventured out toward the middle quickly came back in and joined the pack. After the South Tower, everyone jumped off for the Marin Headlands and relief from the flood in the coves and bights on the way to Point Bonita.

White Shadow
Jim Hopp's J/88 White Shadow sails past Crissy Field. ©2016

As is often the case, several large ships, including the Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien out for a cruise, chose that time to enter the Golden Gate, so staying clear of them added to calculations. For good measure a humpback whale swam under the Golden Gate Bridge and across the fleet, headed southwest while all the boats were headed northwest. A warning from the race committee about avoiding "marine mammals" reminded skippers the day was for racing and not whale watching or bumping.

Raven and Hang 20
Truis Myklebust's F-27 Raven was the lone multihull. ©2016

After Bonita, most boats continued out a mile or more before turning up toward Duxbury Reef. The few boats that turned up too soon found themselves in the "When do I tack for the buoy?" quandary as they neared Bolinas. Then the WSW wind slowly clocked around to WNW, making fetching the mark even more difficult. As the afternoon wore on, the wind speed diminished from the low teens to the high single digits making the slow boats even slower.

The usual fleet of fishing boats drifted or trolled near the Duxbury Buoy, creating still another navigation problem. As boats rounded Duxbury, they were urged on by a dozen sea lion pups hanging on to the bouncing green buoy or attempting to clamber up to join their mates. At least one boat reported seeing a great white shark, probably a major reason the pups were seeking shelter on the buoy.

Duxbury buoy
Duxbury, a buoy with multiple purposes. ©2016

The reach down to the Lightship was fast, especially for the large boats that started first and took advantage of the wind before it began to drop. Another audience of seal lion pups cheered boats as they rounded the Lightbucket and began the run back to the finish line. Again, the larger boats found wind to fill their chutes while the slower boats struggled to keep theirs filled. The early finishers split, with some going to the north along the Marin Headlands before crossing to the South Tower and some south past Mile Rock to China Beach and the South Tower. The later finishers found early flood up the middle.

Aboard Scott Cyphers' Ericson 35 Ergo. ©2016

The sea conditions, which had been a little lumpy for the first part of the race, smoothed out, and enough northwest swell had built for some modest surging along the deepwater channel and into Point Bonita. From Bonita to the finish the water was smooth as the flood built, and the westerly wind, channeled by the Golden Gate, built back into the low teens.

The finish line moved from GGYC to StFYC, shaving a quarter mile off the course. Shana and Mark Howe's SC50 Adrenalin took top honors and first in PHRO-1A, finishing in 4:41:48 for the 33-mile course and correcting out to 5:38:35. Most of the large boats finished in less than five hours.

Trig Liljestrand's J/90 Ragtime placed first in PHRO-1B. Laurence Baskin's Express 37 Bullet took PHRO-1C. Jim Quanci's venerable Cal 40 Green Buffalo won PHRO-2A. Adam Mazurkeiwicz's Express 27 Yeti placed first in PHRO-2B. Joshua Rothe's Santa Cruz 33 Oscar took the SHS-1 Doublehanded division, and Bob Johnston's J/92 Ragtime! came in first among the SHS-2 singlehanders.

Rich Pipkin and Mary McGrath traded their J/105 Racer X for a J/125 they're calling Can't Touch This (ex-Double Trouble) and placed third in PHRO-1A with the third highest corrected time, 5:40:31, among the 43 boats that sailed the Duxship this year. Not a bad first outing!

Jim Quanci commented that it was a "beautiful day on the ocean! Enough wind… some sun… not too bumpy." Winning PHRO-2A by more than 10 minutes probably helped Jim's high spirits, too.

With the exception of one shorthanded boat with spinnaker wrap problems, all boats that started finished, with the final boat completing the course in 7 hours, 30 minutes.

Several boats called in after finishing to congratulate Hodgkins' EYC race committee for a great afternoon in the Gulf of the Farallones, and then sailed home as the full moon rose over the South Bay and the temperature dropped.

— Pat Broderick

Results are available on Jibeset. The next race in the OYRA series will be the Farallones Race on June 11.

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