Monday, May 19, 2008


The fog blanket that came in over the city on Saturday began to burn off in the eastern part of the city in the mid-morning. By early afternoon, skies over the marina were clear and the sun was shining brilliantly.

We headed out of port about 1 pm, hoping to catch more of the Stone Cup Regatta, but wondering where the race course location was, since the race boats were nowhere to be seen between pier 39 and points northeast of the pier. Winds were in the 15-20 knot range as we left port and we raised single-reefed main before heading out into the central bay.

We headed west on the strong southwesterly breeze, pulling out a well-reefed jib to speed our progress westward, then tacking into the lee of pier 45 to pull in the jib again as the winds had already intensified to 20-25 knots. We saw that some boats in the race fleets were milling around near the start line while, in the distance, we could see some of the race boats heading downwind under spinnaker-- perhaps finishing their first race.

We beat to the west under main only, and passed the start line of the race course while the boats were still milling around, but eventually we heard the gun for the start of a race and saw one of the IRC fleets heading upwind after their start. We were taking lots of spray, so we had ANTICIPATION's helm locked down on each tack and were hunkered down behind her dodger to protect the camea from the blasts of spray.

Another IRC boat-- a large one-- was blasting downwind toward the leeward mark or the finish line-- not sure which.

SCORPIO, another IRC boat, was also blasting downwind under spinnaker and looking good!

Same for ENCORE here....

... and this race boat with no name on the side of the hull.

A bit later, we spotted the J120 fleet heading downwind with MR. MAGOO apparently in the lead.

CHANCE seemed to be in third place among the J120 fleet....

.... and GRACE DANCES was way behind the leaders.

We continued beating westward, hoping eventually to reach a point near the windward mark, and from time to time we enjoyed the view of the fog pouring over the headlands as well as the race boats.

We were a ways north of the windward mark when the J105 fleet started rounding that mark.

ENCORE sailed past us while having a problem with a twist in her spinnaker that the crew was busily trying to sort out....

.. and eventually got the kite flying properly.

These two J105 boats were close together as they blasted our way on port tack.

A bit later, we spotted a large segment of the J105 fleet rounding the mark and blasting downwind under spinnaker-- what a great sight!

These two J105s were very close together and both seemed to be preparing to gybe toward the leeward mark.

WONDER was having a big problem with her kite wrapped around her forestay-- tough to undo.

Another J105 was having even bigger spinnaker problems-- not sure how this started but seemed likely to be a real problem to get the kite under control and be off in the race again.

Here, WONDER is being passed by another J105 in the fleet that has her kite flying nicely.

That other J105 now had all hands attempting to yank the spinnaker back onto the boat-- pretty difficult in 25 knot winds-- without letting it shrimp in the water.

Some time later, GRACE DANCES was heading downwind again toward the leeward mark and looking good.

We were well off the race course, we thought, since all the boats were gybing toward the leeward mark well to our starboard side, so we weren't concerned when we spotted CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, a large boat in the IRC fleet, heading our way after rounding the windward mark.

She was dashing right toward us on port tack, and we expected to be well out of her way if she didn't start her gybe before reaching our location. Besides, we were on starboard tack and she was on port tack, so owed us right of way.

I was more than a bit nonplussed when she started her gybe right behind us and blasted past us only a few feet away-- too close for my comfort, but probably not that unusual for race boats. Note that she is flying bot jib and kite.

She was soon blasting away from us at high speed-- probably twice our speed of about 6 knots downwind, and giving us her wake.

A bit later, we spotted SWEET SENSATION headed our way....

.... preparing to gybe....

.. and making a textbook gybe to head for the leeward mark on starboard tack.

As we continued sailing downwind on main only, we eventually spotted the J105 boats heading back upwind toward the windward mark, like WONDER here....

... and these closely bunched boats here.

This J105 blasted past us on port tack, looking good!

... and sending up spray!!!

This J120 had her starboard rail in the water as she blasted past us.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF had also rounded the leeward mark and was blasting upwind -- here on starboard tack and well heeled-over with most crew members on the rail.

MR MAGOO blasted past us, looking great!

This 1D35 was also blasting upwind on starboard tack.

We hung around the leeward mark for a while and caught some of the J105 fleet traffic jam at the mark...

...and some others more solitary when approaching the mark.

We were contemplating staying around the leeward mark to watch the rest of the racing, but the wind waves were quite large at that spot of the bay, and we were rocking around too much for decent photography, so we headed for home port, enjoying the view of the eastern part of the city still in brilliant sunshine. Wish the fog had cleared to the gate so we would have had better lighting for our photos, but no such luck!

Winds east of the leeward mark of the race course were even stronger by 5 knots or so and the wind waves were bigger on Alcatraz shoal, so we were doing quite a bit of surfing as we blasted toward home port. We sailed into the lee of pier 35 to douse the main and tie it up and prepare fenders and lines for landing and then motored around and into the marina, happy to have spent a few hours on the bay despite the extreme wind and sea conditions that will probably be a regular occurrence this late spring and summer season.

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