“With the the 35th edition of the B.A.M.A. hosted Doublehanded Farallones race we kick off the 2014 offshore season. Run since 1978, the DH Farallones followed the SSS's Singlehanded Farallones by a year, providing an opportunity for those who like company, just not too much of it, when venturing out to the rock-pile.
It has been BAMA's contribution to the sailing community, and has for all intents and purposes, been dominated in number by monohulls. In it's prime, 1984, the Doublehanded Farallones attracted 144 competitors but has seen numbers decline after the economic bubble burst, removing numerous sailors from the affordability of owning and maintaining a seaworthy vessels, increasing costs and safety equipment required. This year's 53 boats is five boats smaller than in the two previous years which each saw 58 attendees. That's still plenty, and keeps the volunteers working the race deck, the internets and positions up high in the Marin Headlands and Lands end monitoring and ready to relay communications in event of an emergency.
With an 0800 1st gun at the GGYC the Race Committee saw goose eggs on the wind-o-meter and went into postponement. Despite what some of the models predicted, the breeze was a no show for the most part, hoping for better conditions made sense. The ebb had maxed at 0730 and if the RC was to get the 35th running going, it was imperative to get the boats out before the tide reversed. At 0845 the Multis got their gun and it was a light air luff-a-thon to get out to favorable current, and at least get swept out the gate if you could not sail out. By about 0920 the 1st Tri's passed under the Bridge, ghosting along would be a generous description. 15 minutes or so passed before the largest monohull hull, California Condor would eek out in similar conditions.
About 1000 a slight southwesterly began to fill, aiding boats in the bay more than those who had exited earlier. What we saw then was a condensing of the fleets, and the light sportboats and ULDB's taking advantage of the conditions. According to some sailors, things actually looked good from Bonita with 10-12 knots showing, but by the time they reached the light bucket, it was down to 5-6 knots, and died shortly thereafter. The boats which were able to get in range of the Islands benefited the most.
Sergei Podshivalov was sailing his J-105 JAVELIN in the DH Farallones for the 1st time, was one such benefactor, and as a result sailed to a corrected time victory in PHRF 4. Here are some of Sergei’s observations:
“It was my first time going to Farallones, so I was intent to make it even we had to finish at midnight. Had plenty of food on board to prevent the crew mutiny.
We did few timed drifts before the start, concluded that the StYC breakwaters would be a good a place to be at 5 min warning. Had anchor ready, but didn't have to use it, were maybe 5 boat length away from the line at the gun. Better be safe than sorry :-)
Luckily it was enough breeze to clear the South Tower, eventually the pressure has built up and once we were 5 miles out of the gate the wind veered such so we were fetching the islands.
The happiness didn't last that long. The wind dropped to 4 kts or less, we just stopped and drifted north west with the current. Even jellyfish of which was plenty around was moving faster than us. Need to learn how to make J/105 moving in the light wind. Saw some other boats around making knot or so.
At 2:45 the wind built up again, to reasonable 8 kts and we started to move. Half an hour late we had to crack off to fetch the mark. Too bad too much distance was lost due to this northerly drift and inability to make the boat to move.
We rounded the islands at happy hour, wind blowing 16 -18 kts at 5 pm, then immediately jibed and set the kite (their course looked something like this).
Apparently this wind angle was very favorable to J/105, we were able to beeline to the Golden Gate on a very hot reach, rounding up every so often, but still moving at about 10-12 kts boat-speed. Other boats either kept going with the jib, or carrying the kite but leaving the mark to windward.
Once we reached Point Bonita at 8:15, the wind started to die down to 6-8 kts and was almost behind us. Eventually we had to heat up and then jibe. Close to the bridge the wind increased to 18 kts we rounded up right by the South Tower, but fortunately missed it!
As soon as we went past the Golden Gate the wind calmed again, so we went inshore jibing back and forth to avoid the ebb. We soon crossed the finish line and opened a well-earned cold beer!”
In addition to Sergei and his team-mate Randall Landaiche’s fantastic performance, the J/111 SYMMETRY sailed by Howard Turner and Jay Crum took Class 3 honors, too. Both boats won were considered to be the most competitive divisions in the race, proof again that the asymmetric spinnaker J’s like the J/111 and J/105 make for superior offshore performance in double-handed events! Sailing photo credits- Erik Simonson- Pressure-drop.us For more Double-handed Farallones sailing information