Sunday, March 30, 2008


We headed out about 11:30 to watch some of the various sailboat racing events taking place on Saturday. We were aware of the ocean race for J120s and J105s, sponsored by the St. Francis YC, since my sailing mate Michael was crewing on GRACE DANCES, one of the J120 fleet, and we had heard about the double-handed Farallones race, sponsored by BAMA-- the Bay Area Multihull Association-- though the race is not limited to multihulls.

As we entered the central bay after putting out canvas, we headed to the northweast to rendezvous with some of the J105 fleet-- the portion that was taking a course south of Alcatraz. Skies were overcast so the sea surface was gray, and the lighting not great for photography.

They soon outdistanced us, and we tacked over to see what was going on with the small boat regatta just west of Ft. Mason, later learming that this was a High School Champs regatta, sponsored by the St. Francis Y.C.

After watching this regatta for a little while, we headed for the gate and we sailed out between midspan and the south tower as this catamaran was returning to the bay.

We sailed out about half way to Pt. Bonita in growing ocean swells, but the winds were quite light, so we decided to head back inside rather than wait for the returning racers out on the ocean, and watched as this large sailboat headed for us on starboard tack, rising and falling in the swells.

We headed southeast to get as much ebb current relief as we could, and slowly ghosted back toward the gate, gybing several times, and watching behind us as a large cruise ship steamed toward us-- shooting the gate after we had reached the bay ourselves.

We were accompanied by BLACK PEARL as we sailed east along the cityfront.

The High School Champs regatta was still taking place-- they did 9 short course races on Saturday-- and we tacked around to watch for a while.

Later, we began to see some race boats heading for the finish line of the two ocean races, like this trimaran, that seemed to be first to finish the BAMA Farallons race.

Pegasus-- a PEGASUS RACING craft that I have not seen before, seemed to be the second to finish the BAMA race.

We were headed back toward the gate, and passed our old pal, ADVENTURE CAT 2, on the way.

This small race boat was heading east under spinnaker, and we sailed over to ask if they were in the BAMA race, and they saild 'no'-- as I expected, since it was highly unlikely that such a small boat could finish the race that quickly.

A bit later, we encountered THREE SIGMA, a trimaran heading for the finish line.

This race boat with colorful spinnaker was heading into the bay-- doublehanded crew-- not sure if they were finishing the BAMA race or not, but if they were, they were well ahead of all the other small boats.

It seems unlikely that that small monohull could finish before this trimaran, which could easily attain much faster speeds.

A bit later, we spotted the J120 fleet re-entering the bay, the four lead boats all within a few hundred yards of each other after many miles of racing.

MISTER MAGOO was in the lead and sailing beautifully.

GRACE DANCES was in 4th place-- the boat that my friend Michael was crewing on for the race.

After the four J120s passed, we spotted the J105 leaders entering the bay.

TIBURON was one of the lead boats apparently.

SPARTAN passed us, looking good.

These two J105s were in hot competition as they headed for the finish.

One of my sailing mates, John Navas, had called me while we were out to say that had spoken to the french skipper of the French catamaran, GITANA 13, that recently set the record for sailing between NYC and SF, and was told that they were planning to sail out the gate about 17:00, weather permitting, but it was now only about 3:30 pm and there she was, already at the gate and preparing to head out to sail to Japan, trying to set another record. I was hoping we'd be at the gate before she showed up, but alas, we were a half mile or more away and had to settle for this not-so-good telephoto shot.

We were closing on the gate when we spotted some of the BAMA race fleet heading into the bay under colorful spinnakers. We came about to head downwind, douse jib and let the boats pass us by while we took photos.

The skies started to clear now, and eventually, we were in full sunshine, so all the scenery of the bay began to take on a more vivid beautiy as this race boat was entering the bay, headed for the finish line.

What a difference the late afternoon sunshine made on the vivid colors of this gold and black spinnaker....

... and this red, white and blue on, as these boats approached and passed us.

After the last of the BAMA race boats passed us-- at least the last that we could see, though there could have been stragglers still out there-- we headed for home port ourselves, and enjoyed the much more dramatic views of the city now in brilliant late afternoon sunshine.

We doused the jib as we sailed past pier 39, then doused main after passing the marina. We had been out on the bay for over 6 hours, watching all the great racing and taking several hundred photos. It was a spectacular afternoon of sailing!

No comments: