Thursday, June 20, 2013

J/Teams Survive Truly Epic San Francisco Invite

(San Francisco, CA)- It's not often that any regatta is held in over 25 kts of breeze all weekend.  Nor is it even considered unusual for San Francisco Bay sailors to sail their J/105s in 25-30 kts of breeze, as can often be the case midsummer when the Bay dawns a coolish 50-odd degrees and foggy and the massive desert basins are already heating up well past 90 degrees by mid-morning.  As one might expect when the weather reports are reporting massive drought conditions and 110 degrees in the shade in parts of eastern California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, the Bay can become a massive wind machine that can generate beyond "dogs off chains", nuking wind conditions.  Indeed, that's exactly what happened a weekend ago.

Here's Nicole Breault's report from onboard the mighty yacht ARBITRAGE: "Sorry, gotta say this yet again, this weekend was TOTALLY EPIC!! San Francisco Invitational Regatta started on Saturday in 30-38 knots of breeze and we sailed three races. Eighteen J/105s began the day, but only 9 finished it.  The extraordinary equipment breakage toll on the fleet included a broken mast, broken boom, broken spin pole, one injury (turned out okay), shredded sails, and a broken bulkhead. ARBITRAGE broached three times, once was a death roll and almost 4 of us got washed overboard... one stanchion kept us on board - its quite bent! We may have cracked a spreader, but it held up through racing on Sunday - basically the same conditions but flatter water on flood tide. I don't think I have ever been more tired on a Monday morning!"

The report from Bruce Stone was even more sobering as skipper/ owner of ARBITRAGE: "You may recall I described some of the work I did to my mast and boom – replaced the rod rigging, repaired a wet bulkhead, sandblasted and repainted the mast and boom, but added a doubler to strengthen the base of the mast as it was cracking, as well as the area around the spinnaker sheave box at the top, and around the outhaul cleat on the boom, replaced all sheaves and replaced the spin sheave box – in total 20 welds on the boom and 65 on the mast.  We did all of this just in time to hold it all together!  Yes, we are sailing 'antiques' preserved to sail the big breeze on the Bay!

On the way to the race course, the spin sheave box on ROXANNE flew out of the mast, so the team had to retrieve the spinnaker without shrimping and shredding it before heading for home.  Scooter Simmons was racing that boat because his boat, BLACKHAWK, was still in the yard after being T-boned in the last regatta.  Scooter then raced non-spin for the first race and still finished tenth, given how many had retired!

Scooter then went home to prep the boat for racing the next day.  He unbolted the spin sheave out of his own mast and installed it on ROXANNE.  He also picked up his boom and loaned it to AKULA, who broke their's on Saturday.  AKULA then had two bullets, their top performance in a long time!

Other action on Saturday: Pat Benedict’s spin pole on ADVANTAGE went right through his bulkhead. And, MOJO broke his bow sprit and the sprit broke the bow pulpit!"

No one can blame the San Francisco J/105 fleet for being anything other than resourceful. They love their boats, many having withstood the test of time sailing in the Bay's infamous boat-breaking chop and wind conditions when other boats have beaten a path back to the harbor licking their wounds and broken boats and eviscerated egos!  For more San Francisco Invitational Regatta sailing information