Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Epic Great Pumpkin Regatta!

Pumpkin weather (Richmond, CA)- The Richmond YC's Annual toast to the pagan ritual involving orange gourds, ghoulish disguises and costumed merry-making usually involves some quiet autumn romping about the Berkeley Circle, and a party that cannot be beat, followed by a late starting 12nm pursuit race from the Berkeley Circle, around Angel Island and Alcatraz and finishes at the mouth of the Richmond Riviera. It is usually a banal weather event on San Francisco Bay, with light winds and those lazy autumn skies thick with the moist aroma of decaying organic matter, cinnamon ladened pumpkin everything. The 2016 edition will be remembered as a year of early weather systems, potent and wet with southerly winds which began mellow on Saturday and ramped up to white knuckle conditions for the Sunday finale.

While the timing of fronts was near perfect for Saturday, with rain overnight, cloudy and mild at 1st gun and eventually ramping up to sunny and mid teens for the buoy races, the forecasted timing for Sunday was not as advertised. The more potent of the two systems to visit the Bay Area, was originally projected to blow through the wee hours of Sunday and slowly mellow by Noon's scheduled 1st start. Someone forgot to get the memo to the weather gods, and the system stalled, 1st reaching the Bay after dawn and ramping up through the morning. The deluge began around 0900 when the skies opened up, and many a mariner preparing to leave the dock and head to the starting area, decided that getting soaked and beat up even before the race began wasn't what was in the brochure.

Add to the equation, the venturi effect caused by Alcatraz and Angel Islands, some pelting cloudbursts and you get the gist. It was to be a quick race, unless you were one of several boats that suffered involuntary sail area reduction or salt water intrusion into the cabin area.

For starters, the Sunday Pursuit Race was quite an epic event, with rain and winds pushing 33 kts making it a challenge for everyone.  Most of the fleet sailed the CCW course.  The strongest winds and rain were during the first beat from the Berkeley Circle start up the Raccoon Straits around Angel Island. Then a windy close reach to Alcatraz, but sun breaking thru the clouds.  At the east end of Alcatraz many boats rounded up when they set their spinnakers. Winds were around 26 knots. Most boats set something like a A3 kite after rounding Alcatraz and held a direct rhumbline course to the finish, sailing deep, 160-165 TWA off the wind, wind consistently in high teens to low thirties!  It was a tough, wet conditions on the Bay for the 2016 season closer!

The first J/Boat to finish was Charlie Abraham’s J/105 JAVELIN, taking 10th overall of the 124 boats entered.  Not far behind was Gary Panariello’s J/88 COURAGEOUS in 13th, Trig Liljstrand’s J/90 RAGTIME in  15th, Val Lulevich’s J/24 SHUT UP & DRIVE in 16th and Gorkem Ozcelebi’s J/111 DOUBLE DIGIT in 18th.

Saturday’s racing saw beautiful conditions and most racing classes managed to post three races.   In the J/24s, it was Val Lulevich’s SHUT UP & DRIVE winning with an unassailable 1-1-2 scoreline for 4 pts.  They were followed by Darren Cumming’s DOWNTOWN UPROAR in second with a 3-2-1 for 6 pts.  Third was determined on a tie-breaker, with Randall Rasicot’s FLIGHT taking the tie over Jasper Van Vliet’s EVIL OCTOPUS.  Fifth place was taken by Wall Whittier’s WOOF.

In the world of PHRF handicap racing, Trig Liljstrand’s J/80 RAGTIME took second in PHRF B class.  The J/111s laid waste to PHRC C class, with Nesrin Basoz’s SWIFTNESS winning and Howard Turner’s SYMMETRY taking third.  Similarly, the J/105s did the same thing in PHRF E class, with Charlie Abraham’s JAVELIN winning with a 4-3-1 for 8 pts, followed by Sergey Lubarsky’s RUSSIAN ROULETTE in 3rd.  Fourth place went to the Bilafer Family’s J/35 KIRI.  In PHRF F class, the J/88s took 3rd and 5th- Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS and Steve Gordon’s INCONCEIVABLE.  Cleaning house in PHRF R Class were two J/70s taking 1st and 2nd- Robert Milligan’s RAMPAGE and Mark Thomas’ PRIME NUMBER.  Finally, in the SF-30 Class, Anthony Castruccio’s J/30 WINDSPEED took the bronze.    Thanks for report contributed in part by Erik Simonson/ PressureDrop.US.  For more Great Pumpkin Regatta sailing information