(San Francisco, CA)- Summer sailing on San Francisco Bay has not been without its challenges. With pesky 72 foot catamarans flying about acting somewhat "officious" about their rules of the road on San Francisco Bay, and J/105s more than happy to starboard tack anything made of foam and carbon when they are racing, it goes without saying that J/105s win the "Mexican stand-off" nearly every time!
That's how it went for the extremely challenging Summer Keelboat regatta managed by the San Francisco Yacht Club. It was obvious that the weekend was not going to be “normal” on the drive across the Golden Gate early on Saturday. The wind was already blowing, but from an unusual, Southerly, direction and the high clouds were drifting Northwest to Southeast – clearly something odd was going on.
SFYC's PRO Jeff Zarwell set the course up to manage a breeze coming from about 200 degrees, with the pin slightly favored to discourage those “go right on the circle” boats from gelcoat-exchange and bad language close to the RC. The plan worked, helped, perhaps, by the allure of early ebb on the left. The fleet bisected and the two parts headed off in different directions - a pattern that repeated after each start and each leeward mark rounding throughout the regatta, with some skippers convinced that the right paid due to the curl effect around Angel Island, and others favoring stronger current, and unusual port tack “lull-lifts” on the South side.
During the usual informal hand-waving debriefs at the excellent post-race party and BBQ, the fleet also split into two camps – the certain and the conflicted – with no apparent advantage to either attitude as far as picking the correct side or in the results of the racing.
At the end of the day, Bruce Stone’s ARBITRAGE managed the unusual conditions best and won the regatta convincingly with three bullets, a second and a fifth, followed by Scooter Simmon's BLACKHAWK and Jeff Litfin & John Case's MOJO. Jason Woodley & Scott Whitney's RISK and Phil Laby's GODOT tied on points for fourth and fifth overall, with RISK taking the tie-breaker due to winning the first race.
But, there's more to the ARBITRAGE success story in this regatta. Something unusual happened on the way to the weather mark in one of the races--- here's Nicole's account:
"Remember the smile on my face as we led the fleet upwind to the second ww mark in the third race on Saturday? Terry actually asked, 'What's with that cheshire cat grin on your face, Nicole?' as we settled in after a tack. I had just been grumbling that I was SURE we were shy of layline and Bruce better not try to pinch to make the mark because he'd blow our lead.
Well, right after I checked the jib trim, adjusted the trav, and took a look at the boats around us (solidly behind us), Bruce asked me to marry him!
At the time I said something to the effect of... 'you're crazy, ridiculous timing, focus on the boat speed, blah, blah, blah.' But there was no way to suppress the smile. A few seconds later he said, 'Well?' And I said, 'Only if we win this race.'
Well, we made the mark. We won that race. And we won the friggin' regatta." We wish them happiness and many more good layline "calls" in the future! :) Sailing photo credits- Leslie Richter/ Rockskipper.com For more J/105 Summer Keelboat sailing results.