Last year, the winds on the bay were nasty right up until the day that the Rolex BBS started and then they calmed down to under 20 knots. Not this year!!!!
Richard and Somerset were arriving at 12:30 pm to join us for our outing to watch the racing, but before they arrived we went out to the end of the pier to catch some of the action that had already started.
Here a J120 is heading for the leeward mark, the buoy at Blossom Rock, on starboard tack with jib on the foredeck [I thought these boats had roller furling???]
Approaching the mark, she had gybed onto port tack to round the mark counterclockwise and the jib has been raised, but the spinnaker hax not started down yet though she is only about a boat length from the mark.
She starts rounding the mark and the kite is still not coming down!!!
Now its starting to come down but the boat has to head up into the wind to complete the rounding....
....and the crew has to drag the kite over the forestay to douse it! Not a textbook mark rounding!
We met Richard and Somerset at the gate, and readied for departing, leaving the marina about 12:45 pm and putting up single reefed main and hauling out small jib before heading out into the central bay, heading north ot watch some of the racing action, like these two boats of the J120 fleet flying downwind.
Another J120, DESDEMONA, was headed for the finish line of the first race and we could see in the distance some of the IRC fleet that had already finished and were awaiting the start of the next race.
Shortly after the J120 lleet passed, we spotted the 1D35 fleet heading our way, like DIABLITA and JAZZ here, looking pretty much neck and neck as they fly toward the finish line.
'Great Sensation' was looking good as she passed us heading downwind on starboard tack!!
ZSA ZSA, a pier 39 boat neighbor, also looked good as she blasted downwind, but on port tack here!
After the 1D35 fleet passed, we spotted the much larger J105 fleet headed our way with a the boats quite bunched together.
We moved out of their way and watched as they approached with their variety of colorful kites flying.
Here we seem to be staring down the extendable bowsprit of an approaching J105 with attentive crew aboard, but of course we are some distance away and zoom lens puts us close up and personal.
Winds had strengthened to over 25 knots now and this tends to cause some problems like the broaching that this J105 is doing here.
SWOOSH was having no problems as she blasted downwind on starboard tack and looking good!
But this J105 was in the middle of a gybe and was broaching with the foot of her kite in the water.
Melilani was looking good as she flew downwind, but she was dead last heading for the finish line.
We headed for the cityfront to await the start of the next race, and it seemed like ages before we saw any boats headed our way. I found out from talking to Olivier that the starting of the second race was delayed for an hour by the Coast Guard because some large cruiser with some dignitary aboard was playing around on the bay in the area of the start and an exclusion zone had been established-- HOW GODDAM REDICULOUS!!!
Anyway, we eventually spotted the boats of the IRC A fleet heading upwind in our direction, like AKELA here.
MAYHEM and a companion were side by side and they headed toward the cityfront on starboard tack.
Even with most of the crew on the port rail, MAYHEM had her starboard rail buried as she blasted toward the windward mark on port tac in a race that would be cold and wet for most of the boats as the wind continued to increase toward over 30 knots-- not great racing conditions!
These three IRC A boats were close together as they beat upwind, one of them having a NZL [New Zealand] designation on her main sail, so we had some international boats for this years regatta.
These big boats look so beautiful as they blast upwind at high speeds, especially at close range! [Pardon the multiple exclamation marks-- it's so exciting to be out there with these magnificent racing machines!]
We were beating upwind with main only for ease of tacking around, and the IRC A fleet was soon leaving us in their dust, so to speak, as they beat upwind.
It wasn't too long before the lead boat, AKELA, was blasting downwind again under spinnker-- here probably starting or finishing up a gybe as the kite and main are not in trim.
Meanwhile, the IRC B boats were beating upwind, like RAINCLOUD from Mexico, and her companion here....
... and ZAMAZAN here.
The port rail of this IRC B boat was buried as she headed upwind on starboard tack.
FLASH even had some crew on the rail as she blasted downwind on starboard tack.
RACER X looked quite well balanced here as she sailed toward the cityfront on starboard tack with some crewmembers leading way out.
Swiftsure was blasting downwind on port tack with RAINCLOUD in the background and we seemed well out of her way, until.....
... she began a gybe onto starboard tack and started to broach and be out of control and headed our way.. YIKES! she was actually closer than this photo suggests and we eased out the main and hoped she would regain control or we could stay out of her way, if she didn't.
She did regain control and soon was flying downwind on controlled starboard tack looking good!
TNT passed us, looking good as she blasted downwind on port tack here.
On the other side of us, JAM was flying downwind on starboard tack.
ZAMAZAN was heading our way on port tack....
.... and we got out of her way as she started to gybe onto starboard tack and passed us looking good!
This boat of the IRC fleet was planing as she flew downwind with most of her crew near the stern-- she seemed to be going at least 15 knots, perhaps more in the now 30 knot winds on the bay... WHAT A GREAT SIGHT!
We soon spotted Samba Pa Ti flying downwind on starboard tack....
We soon spotted Samba Pa Ti flying downwind on starboard tack....
... but then saw her gybing onto port tack and heading our way...
.... so we skedadled out of her way and she passed astern of us.
This is my favorite shot of the regatta so far! Beautiful blue spinnaker reflecting in the water as this fantastic race boat blasts past us!
We were sailing downwind on port tack when we noticed this inbound container ship steaming through the race course and creating a large wake that this race boat was heading directly into .. and we watched as she bounced through the wake and lost much of her speed.
We rode the wake and then came about and soon spotted Swiftsure headed upwind again....
... as was RAINCLOUD....
... and JAM...
... and TNT....
... and AKELA....
... and ZAMAZAN, all looking good!
This boat was heading straight for us at one point, but of course we were some distance away and moving out of their way.
We even had a boat from Italy in the regatta this year-- wonder how the 'aliens' were enjoying our 30 knot winds and whitecapped waters????
MAYHEMS main was luffing up as she blasted upwind on port tack here...
... as was PENDRAGON's.
We eventually spotted Kokopelli for the first time.. or first time we noticed her anyway.. as she blasted downwind with both kite and jib flying, which seems like it would add difficulty to the necessary gybes.
The fog was moving back over the bay from the west as this IRC race boat blasted downwind on starboard tack, but the bay waters were still showing some luminosity.
It was windy and cold on the bay as the fog moved eastward, and it was tempting to head home, but we decided to head back to the north to watch a bit more racing and spotted a bit of mayhem, as one of the Express fleet here had her kite flying out of control while approaching the leeward mark while the other boat sesemed to be doing a well controlled kite douse.
LIFT IT here was heading for the leeward mark...
... and a bit later her spinnaker was flying out in front of the boat with noone on the foredeck to gather her in.
Later she was shrimping....
.. and eventually was dragging the kite like a sea anchor.
We watched as the boats in this fleet rounded the mark, one of the sea lane buoys, and then we headed for home port, pulling out a small jib. After passing astern of a fast moving inbound container ship, first getting rocked around by the wake, we sailed into the lee of pier 35 to douse sails-- seeing some more race boats heading downwind under kites, and so tempting us to stay out a bit longer, but we resisted, doused sails, prepared for landing and motored into port, landing nicely-- happy and a bit tired.
After a trip to the restroom, Somerset departed and Richard, who lives in a near suburb of Paris, went below to enjoy the wine that he brought and some cheese and crackers and some good conversation to finish off another wonderful afternoon!