Wednesday, March 29, 2017

J/Crews Sweep Double Farallones Classes!

J/111 Aeolus sailing Double Farallones race (San Francisco, CA)- For Saturday’s revamped BAMA Double Handed Farallones race, the lightish winds, flat seas, and changing tides meant the starting line could only be described as chaos.  For the 0800 hrs start, there was an unexpectedly strong flood right along the shoreline.  So, the BAMA RC officials postponed the original start, hoping for increased breeze to get the fleet off the line.  To make matters worse, the RC were forced to delay starting sequences again after a snafu with the Class C start.  Starting slower boats first can present additional problems if the smaller boats cannot make headway across the line in adverse currents; especially when starting faster boats later in the sequence! Hence the chaotic scenario just off the Golden Gate YC waterfront starting area.

The top boats were lucky to escape the clutches of the tricky start line.  The key for the start was to flop onto port tack right away, separate from the mayhem, and head for the remnants of strong ebb flowing West towards the bridge in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

J/125 sailing Double Farallones raceOnce into the remnants of the ebb, it was like you’d been shot from a cannon and past the Golden Gate Bridge.  From there, it was pretty much a rhumb line course to the first turning point on the northern side of the Farallones Rocks, first close hauled and then a close reach when the wind backed southeast. Some boats reported averaging over 10kts SOG for 1.5+ hours once past the bridge!

The Class 10- DHF UBLD Farallones course- was one of the most difficult to gauge competitively since there were such a mix of super lightweight “classic” west coast ULDB’s up against a J/105 (not exactly a ULBD) and a J/88.  In the end, Bill Woodruff & Mike Weinman’s J/1005 RUSSIAN ROULETTE took 5th place followed by Jim Hopp & Ben Burbridge’s J/88 WHITE SHADOW.

Taking the silver in the Class 12- DHG7 Weather Buoy course- was Steve & Zach Gordon’s J/88 INCONCEIVABLE.

J/120 sailing Double Farallones raceThe biggest and most competitive class in the entire race was Class 14- DHF ULDB Farallones Rocks course.  Despite the strong turnout and experienced crews, the class saw a clean sweep of the top four and five of the top six places occupied by doublehanded J/teams!  Winning was Mike O’Callaghan & John Verdois’ J/120 PEREGRINE from St Francis YC.  Taking second was Rob Theis & Jennifer Cannestra’s J/111 AEOLOUS from Santa Barbara YC, third was Sean & Jeff Mulvihill’s J/120 JAMANI from San Francisco YC, fourth was Reuben Rocci & Nesrin Basoz’s J/111 SWIFT NESS from Richmond YC and sixth place was Rich Pipkin & Mary McGrath’s J/125 CAN’T TOUCH THIS.  Most all of these top J/crews completed the 58.0nm course in just under 8 hours- a 7.25 kts average- not bad considering the ebb and the flow of the tides underneath the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge!

Peter Jermyn’s J/30 IONE took class honors sailing Class 5- DHG7 Weather Buoy course.

J/88 sailing Farallones raceOverall on the classic Farallones Rocks course of 58nm, the double-handed J/Crews did great!  First J/team home boat-for-boat was the J/125 CAN’T TOUCH THIS sailed by Rich Pipkin and Mary McGrath, finishing in the elapsed time of 7hrs 43min 51sec; they also won First in Fleet honors (for keelboats, of course)!  On a corrected time basis, four J’s finished in the top six, with the team of O’Callaghan/ Verdois taking 3rd on their J/120 PEREGRINE.  In fourth was Theis/ Cannestra’s J/111 AEOLUS, fifth was the Mulvhill’s J/120 JAMANI and sixth place was Rocci/ Basoz’s J/111 SWIFT NESS.  It was a great showing across the board for these intrepid duos!

Afterwards, Chris Ray from Pressure-Drop.US caught up with Rob Theis who spent the day double handing his J/111 AEOLUS with Jennifer Canestra, teaming up for the first time together for a blast around the smelly rocks (world’s best fertilizer- guano!)- -

J/111 woman skipper in Double Farallones Race"We spent the pre-start time sailing up to the remaining ebb to measure wind and relief and made the decision to come in hot from the pin-end and then button hook the pin and the sail right back to the current,” commented Rob. "The wind was a bit better and there was still a knot or so of ebb working mid-bay, not a real wide ribbon but once you were in it, the relief was substantial!”

"The ebb carried us out the gate in amazingly flat, calm water with enough pressure from the south for a steady, smooth tight reach out to the islands! We prepared for a set, but the wind stayed too SSE to launch until a few miles of tight reaching back towards the gate. Really pleasant sailing conditions in the 10-15 knot range,” said Rob. Unlike last year, when the humpbacks were seemingly everywhere, breach and tail slapping, marine life was described to be on the quiet side.

J/111 sailing Double Farallones raceRob and Jennifer worked their way along the southern side of the Golden Gate Strait, riding a 0.9 knot flood and worked their way around the South Tower expecting a nice slap down by the South Tower Demon. “I was very surprised when we sailed passed and gybed around the south tower with no repercussions,” he noted.  “After the bridge, the wind got really westerly, as usual, but the water stayed flat. We gybed over toward Crissy Field along the beach, with just Class 40 CONDOR and the J/125 CAN’T TOUCH THIS ahead of us by a few minutes.  We crossed the line at 17:33:20s flying the kite all the way towards Alcatraz, gybed, and enjoyed a really nice reach along the City Front, as an early evening pulse of breeze pushed through propelling us towards the barn in fine fashion. It was a really great day with a mix of clouds and sun, smooth seas and fun sailing, good times!”

Here is the story from Mike and John’s ride on the mighty J/120 PEREGRINE:

J/120 sailing Double Farallones race“It was a glorious day with a soft southerly breeze and flat water all the way out and back – absolutely the most civilized DH Farallones Mike and I have ever sailed. If it was like this each year there would be 200 entrants instead of the 80 or so who showed up at the start. After a brief postponement in the starting sequence, we had a great start and got off the line and headed out to the ebb in the center bay – and then we were off sailing directly for the islands on a port tack. About three miles outside the Gate we switched from the 155 to our jib top – which we sailed with all the way to the rocks. Zero tacks, just a mild close reach powered up nicely and essentially on cruise control – trying to eek out as much speed as we could.

J/120 sailing Double Farallones raceWe tacked only once on the back side of the islands and set off back to the Gate – we were with a group of eight or so boats. Fairly soon, we set the A3 and not long after switched to the A2 which we carried all the way to the finish line, with maybe five jibes to plug into favorable current off Baker Beach and get around the South Tower. In retrospect, we should have brought the big class kite – but prudence and previous experience suggested that the class kite would be too much to handle doublehanded, but it would have been faster.

Compared to last year's rounding the islands in 30+ knots of breeze - this weekend's race was more like going to a day spa. It was awesome to have a non life-threatening or nail biting Farallones experience – and great to sail the route with Mike again. I have lost count of how many times we have done this race, but I hope to continue the tradition in our geezerish years. All I know is that the best way to stay young is to ignore the birthdays and just keep doing it!”

Here is a short video of the J/120 JAMANI sailing across the finish line at 17:46:35.   Story and sailing photo credits from Chris Ray/   For more SF BAMA Doublehanded Farallones Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.