Saturday, February 10, 2018

Three Bridge Fiasco Lives Up To Its Name

J/24 sailing San Francisco Three Bridge Fiasco(San Francisco, CA)- The 2018 Three Bridge Fiasco on January 28 lived up to its name, with a number of adjectives that can be tossed in for good measure, such as chaos, anchoring, ripping ebb, light air and determination. This was classic winter sailing on San Francisco Bay.

For many, it was the impromptu voyage out under the Golden Gate Bridge when the currents overwhelmed hull speed after rounding Blackaller and attempting to cross the river. For others, it was a day of setting the hook and waiting; either for stronger wind or less current. Or both.

But, the one thing this edition will be remembered for is the extremely small percentage of finishers, just four boats out of the 359 registered singlehanded and doublehanded teams managed to get around the course before the 7:00 PM witching hour bell struck!! A record that hopefully won’t be repeated again!

3BR- Three Bridge Fiasco courseThe 21.67 nm course is defined by the Golden Gate, Richmond, and Bay Bridges, with adjacent marks that the fleet must round, but in any order and direction.  The three course marks are: 
  • YRA 16 (“Blackaller” a yellow cylinder 0.2 nm east of Fort Point),
  • Red Rock, and
  • Yerba Buena Island.
Boats shall round all three marks in any order and in either direction they wish.

The counter-clockwise course was predestined for the winners, finding enough wind to clear the starting line and made tracks for the west edge of Treasure Island, where they found a nice counter current allowing them to make progress upstream until just under the bridge where the wind died and the current was relentless.

There they played the puffs, advancing the anchor when possible then holding till the next round. Said the winners, “we set the hook 3 times and moved maybe 50 feet in between each set!”

A miracle, short term switch in wind direction allowed the duo to escape the Yerba Buena wind hole and work their way back up the east side with kite pulling them all the way to the north end of Treasure Island.

The wind would subside, die, then refill and allow them to work their way up to Red Rock in a NW wind that they rounded about 3:00 PM, set the kite and rode her back to Raccoon Strait.

“The wind backed off there, but we were able to ride the current to Pt Stuart and then found some westerly, enough to make progress against the building flood to Blackaller, where the wind switched south and eased.” They managed to finish in daylight at 17:25:30.

A trio of boats, including the J/24 FLIGHT, with Randall Rasicot & Rosanne Scholl, all worked their way towards Red Rock well in advance of the rest of the fleet. And, things looked remarkably in their favor. Until the wind died. The light westerly they had enjoyed from 11:00 am on, took a 1:30 pm siesta before staging a northerly comeback, where it jumped to 10-plus knots for an hour and 1/2, allowing them, and a handful of Raccoon Strait Refugees a shot of getting around Red Rock, set kites and boogie towards Treasure Island/ Yerba Buena.  They were the only other finishers.

The fleet included large one-design double-handed fleets of J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, and J/105s.  Thanks to Erik Simonson from for story and images. Add to Flipboard Magazine.