Friday, February 8, 2013

Big J's Sweep Three Bridge Fiasco Div-15/ Div-21

Three bridge fiasco fleet sailing San francisco bayJ/22, J/24 and J/105 OD's Have a Ball!
(San Francisco, CA)- J's were everywhere. Perfect day. Saturday, January 26th on San Francisco Bay, marking the start of the 2013 sailing season on San Francisco Bay.  Clear as a bell, gorgeous scenery and over 300 boats all with just two people aboard, some with just one.

Fleets of one-designs- like J/22s, J/24s and J/105s collectively showed up with 26 boats, a great showing for any race.  And, there was a collection of larger J's like J/32, J/120s, J/100, J/111, J/44 and so forth all milling about with two people on them.  Was this the start of a two-handed navy of sorts ready to go on an expedition someplace?  Perhaps it was "mass amnesia" and a bright sunny, cool day that is only meant for the Tinsley Island Lighthouse Race from the Bay into the vast Delta?

Here's what Paige Brooks had to say, "What this is, may be loosely construed as a race.  Three bridges, two people, one boat, in a pursuit-style race. That’s the Three Bridge Fiasco. Actually it can be sailed single or double-handed and is the kick off for San Francisco’s Single-Handed Sailing Society’s race season.

It’s a sight to behold, the entire bay dotted with boats going this way and that. We wish it were like that every weekend. This is certainly the biggest race on the bay, thanks to a wealth of available crew, the second largest is the Corinthian Mid-Winters when many skippers bring new sailors to come out and try their hand racing with friends for a day.

J22s sailing Three Bridge Fiasco- San Francisco Bay305 boats crossed the starting line this morning off the deck of the Golden Gate Yacht Club in a dying flood tide. Approximately two-thirds of the boats decided to round Blackaller (the Golden Gate Bridge mark) first and then head to either the Yerba Buena Island (Bay Bridge) or Red Rocks (Richmond San Rafael Bridge). Conditions were a chilly 10-15 knots at the start, though the wind faded to a whisper behind Angel Island for boats heading to Red Rocks.  The smart money went with the tide first going east-bound around Treasure Island from the starting line."

Local photo-journalist, Erik Simonson, explained, "If you are unfamiliar with the 3 Bridge Fiasco, it's premise is simple. Take one start finish line, three obstacles placed near the San Francisco Bay's three centrally located bridges, and go around them and through the start line any which way you want!

The Single-Handed Sailing Society originally had a handful of takers the first time around and the idea of "the fiasco" was quite tame compared to the number of entrants in recent years. With the start at 0900 hrs and the last scheduled at 1100 hrs, the theory is the slower first starters will be long gone before the faster boats get going.

With a brisk Northerly in the mid-teens at the start, and a forecasted building flood, a majority of the fleet opted to take a clockwise approach, with Blackaller first, then ride the tide to Red Rocks in the North Bay, but that was not the only option.

Raccoon Straights offered the best current option for north bound passengers, and the vast majority opted for the scenic route, riding the tide and were greeted by a couple dozen seals and sea lions who were taking advantage of the mackerel run.

The ride from Raccoon to Red Rocks was pleasant as it was smooth, and many of the crews began reducing layers as the temps began to rise. Rounding the rock just south of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge is on of the major milestones of the regatta. An this year with the Northerlies still holding steady in the 5-8 knot range it means a nice down hill ride is in the forecast.

After rounding Red Rocks, the fleet spread out pretty well, and it was at times hard to discern which routes were being favored, but as the fleet of now southbound sailors reached the Treasure Island Area, the re-grouping began in earnest.

As the counter-clockwise contingent’s last stragglers emerged from the lee of Yerba Buena, the Clockwise contingent arrived, and began stacking up like salmon in a river, awaiting the next pulse of energy to push through the obstacle ahead of them.

Once through the Bay Bridge Narrows, the fleet was blessed with glorious, mirror-like conditions that water skiers dream about.

At one point there must have been well over a third of the fleet compacted on the south side of the Bay Bridge, proof positive that ratings systems was working well. Despite the general lightness of wind, a positive and happy vibe rolled through the fleet, after all it's nearly February and while many of our friends and family are shoveling snow before frostbiting, the only frost bite anyone suffered this day was from leaving their paws on an ice cold frosty one too long!"

J22 family sailboat- sailing San FranciscoAmongst the one-designs sailing in the J/22 class, it was quite the deal.  Like Mark Adam and daughter Sarah seen here as part of the 8 boat J-22 Fleet out of the St FYC.  This fleet is usually sequestered to the City Front for team / match racing events.  However, this year the 8 boats were chartered from the club for just $100.00 each to test their mettle on something uniquely different.  It was apparently quite popular and the teams loved sailing the boats in what was generally benign sailing conditions.  In the end, it was Scott Sellers and Geoff Mcdonald that took line honors sailing SWAMP DONKEY 6.  Arriving about 12 minutes back was John Turney and Justin Shaffer on SEVEN and in third was Alex Symes  and Brian Kerr on SNOWY OWL.

The J/24s have been long-time participants in the race, probably since before time!  Leading the J/24 class home was Darren Cumming and Steve Myers on the famous DOWNTOWN UPROAR, winning by over a half hour!  Second over the horizon was Randall Rasicot and Jasper Van Vleit on FLIGHT and third was Alex Scultink and Amancio Souza on FLY BY NIGHT.

Like their J/24 colleagues, the J/105s have seen the 3BF as an honorable right of passage to start their sailing season, dust off the spiders, clean the bottoms, lube the winches and blocks and go for a spin on the bay.  Showing they were up to the task in this popular and highly competitive fleet on the Bay, David Miller and Roger Wise sailed BALD EAGLE to a near 4 minute win over the team of David Gross and Alex Samodurov racing NIRVANA.  Nipping at their heels just 40 seconds back was Richard Butts and Jill Visor, the first "mixed doubles" team, sailing MELILANI to snag third for the race.

Over in handicap world, the various J/Teams sailed incredibly well, many winning their classes to the chagrin of many of their competitors.  In the Division 15- Double Non-Spin, the J/crews led a sweep of the podium.  Top dog in a duel for the finish was Bill Mohr and Mike Berndt's J/124 SPIRIT OF FREEDOM, finishing at 1327 hrs.  Just 27 seconds back was the J/44 ACEY DEUCY sailed by Richared Leute and Anton Muzik.  Rapidly closing on these two in the waning hours of the race was the J/111 AEOLUS sailed by Rob Theis and Stefano Lindt around 6 minutes back.

In Division 13- Double PHRF 111-150, the J/32 PARADIGM sailed by family team of Luther & Robert Izmirian finished at 1326 hrs, winning their division by 2 minutes.  The J/80 NIMBUS sailed fast by Stephen Jones and Tim Han managed to go around the track by 1332 hrs to happily finish 4th, only 6 minutes off the top boat.

In Division 12- Double PHRF Under 108, the J/120s all had varying theories about what was the fastest way around the capricious SF Bay waters.  They went both ways, but top dogs went counter-clockwise with the J/120 MR MAGOO getting the jump to grab 4th in class, sailed by the 120 class veterans Steve Madeira and Jeff Lawson, finishing by 1328 hrs.  Next J120 down the line was Tom Grennan and Herb Kleekamp sailing KOOKABURRA, finishing at 1338 to finish 9th in class.

The Division 11- Double Sportboat was sure to be a competitive class as these were all J/70s, J/90, Melges 20/24/32s and Ultimate 20/24s and Hobie 33s.  A crazy group of boats.  In their debut 3BF, the J/70 did well with Drew Harper and Garrett sailing DILLIGAF to the finish by 1339 hrs, missing 3rd place by only 5 minutes--- or the difference in the Bay PHRF rating of 111 versus ROW PHRF at 121-- a 10 sec/mi hit.  Really?  A J/70 rates faster than a J/29 masthead?? "We live in interesting times", said one Chinese wise guy.

Finally, in the Division 21- Double 30, the J/30s swept the top two spots with Peter Jermyn and Curt Brown sailing IONE to first with a finish at 13:36 hrs and fellow J/30 rockstars Tony Castruccio and Konstantin Andreyev on WINDSPEED pulling into the finish line at 14:00 hrs to snatch the silver.

Overall, it was a really interesting outcome for J sailors on the Bay.  Big "J" on campus was the J/32 PARADIGM with their 13:26:13 hrs finish, getting 5th overall in a fleet of 277 boats!!  Next was the J/124 finishing at 13:27:10 for 7th overall.  9th overall was the J/44 ACEY DEUCY finishing at 13:27:37.  In 11th was the J/120 MR MAGOO crossing at 13:28:45, then the J/22 SWAMP DONKEY 6 finishing at 13:31:37 in 16th overall.  Just behind them was the J/80 NIMBUS at 13:32:19 to get 18th, then the J/111 AEOLUS finishing at 13:33:23 to grab 20th.  In 21st was the J/105 BALD EAGLE crossing at 13:34:00, then the J/30 IONE at 13:36:01 good enough for 26th.  That's quite a cross-section of J/Boats sailing design and history all finishing within about a 10 minute period!  Truly a chaotic fiasco!  No wonder people love this race, it's a blast!

Sailing photo credits- Erik Simonson/ be sure to visit his photo galleries- some excellent shots of J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/105s, J/32, J/120 and so forth!  His editorial/multimedia site is (

Christine Weaver and friends from NorCAL Sailing put together a nice 15 min video of the 3BF.  Nice documentary and explanation of what it's all about along with some fun footage.

The J/105 JAM SESSION sailed by Adam Spiegel and Chris Tholstrup had a tracker on-board for the race.  Take a look at what they did here.

San Francisco photographer Patrick Schroff was up high in the Presidio facing N/NE taking some awesome time-lapse footage of the 3B on that spectacular, sunny day.  Here's "Frisco in 34 seconds", very cool to watch the boats sailing into the Blackaller Buoy just west of St Francis YC on the bay.