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The IOD Fjaer sails through a blizzard of water on Sunday. ©2012 Andrew Haedt/norcalsailing.com
January 23, 2012
Over the last few years we've taken a lot of pictures of big groups of boats drifting around in light air and big currents, trying, sometimes in vain, to get around the race course in the Corinthian Midwinters. This weekend was not one of those times. The ebb was big (and may have scared off some potential sign-ups), but the wind was bigger. Much bigger.
On both days, all racers had completed their courses with a couple of hours to spare before the deadline of 1700 hours. On Saturday, this early finish provided the sailors with an opportunity to enjoy drinks (including the free beer courtesy of Pineapple Sails) in the sunshine on the deck of the clubhouse, just reopened after her midwinter refurbishing. Sunday's apres-sail looked more like apres-ski, with everyone crammed in the bar, huddled in front of the fireplace, the windows fogged up, football on the TV screens.
Saturday's course for most of the divisions sent the racers off in a westerly from the startline in the Knox area (with race committee boat Mercury courtesy of Sausalito YC - that boat's been busy), to the windward mark of Yellow Bluff, around Alcatraz and Angel Island, with a finish off the race deck. The slower divisions were given a Friday night course within the Knox area. The leg to Yellow Bluff would have been a one-tack (port) beat, were it not for the river running out of the Bay, which got stronger closer to the Gate and forced racers to put in some tacks to fetch the mark.
On Sunday, the wind had clocked around to the south, so Harding Rock became the windward mark and the faster boats were once again sent around both islands, and the slower boats went around Angel.
Oh, did we mention the wind? On Saturday, it was very gusty, with a few holes in Belvedere Cove. It was hard to tell the spinnaker boats from the non-spinnaker boats. A couple called in before the start to switch divisions, while some others stayed in their spinnaker divisions and just chose not to set.
On Sunday, the wind was steadier but still fierce, with a few light spots in Raccoon Strait. Both days exceeded the Weather Service's Small Craft Advisory predictions. If you had a boat and crew that sail well in high winds, you probably did pretty well, assuming you didn't break anything critical.
Timothy Ballards's Beneteau First 40.7 Inspired Environments had a crew overboard on Sunday. They retrieved her quickly and were going to head straight for the dock, but she said no way, she was fine and they should finish. She changed clothes and they did finish the race, but when others heard the story they made space for her in front of the fireplace.
What conditions will February's Corinthian Midwinters receive on February 18-19? It's too soon to guess at the weather, but we can tell you the current won't be as strong.