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Bodacious+, Uno, and pHat Jack at a top mark rounding on Saturday. "No boats or sailors were hurt in the filming of this incident, nor did the Expess 37 accept her penalty," said Steve Wonner, skipper of the Wyiecat 30. "I might send him my laundry bill however!" ©2012 Richmond YC
Big Daddy Regatta
March 12, 2012
Three races was one too many for several boats at Richmond YC's Big Daddy Regatta on Saturday. The first day of racing in the weekend-long event features three buoy races on two race courses, and each race can consist of up to three laps around inflatable marks.
The Boston Whaler photo boat driver described the conditions as, "Sixteen knots of wind with short chop. It was my coldest day on the Bay in a year. It was a good day to get off the water." The seas got rougher as the afternoon wore on and the wind and ebb built. "It was my roughest day on the Bay in the year and a half I've been shooting races," said photographer Steve Holloway.
Race Committee volunteer Tony English, helping out on the Olympic Circle course, reported that their start line pin was suffering from drift. "We had to keep resetting it for each start. The anchor wasn't heavy enough for the amount of wind we had."
Sailing on the Olympic Circle course, Wolfgang Stehr of the Express 27 Summer Palace out of Richmond YC liked the wind. "We had perfect conditions. We flew in the pros from Santa Cruz." Patrick Lewis was their guest rockstar, on trim and tactics. Tauna Coulson also comes from Santa Cruz and is an Express 27 vet. Tauna described the scene: "The forecast called for clouds, but the clouds develop over the land and it stays sunny right on the water. We have a beautiful place to race here. The light was stunning."
Unfortunately, Summer Palace's day ended with a collision with fellow Express 27 Verve in race 3. Summer Palace was on starboard, and maybe Verve didn't see them, so they yelled, "Starboard," then, "tack, tack, tack," but it was too late, and Summer Palace T-boned Verve, putting a hole in Verve. Wolf immediately dropped out of the race. He felt horrible, and kept asking the crew, "What could I have done differently?" At least no one got hurt.
The Express 27s had three double rounds. Chris Gage of Ergo called it, "A good day of sailing. The wind was really consistent. We started out with a #3 jib and finished the day on a #3. The wind might have shifted 10 degrees in the last race. The race committee was great. We had a really good time, everything you'd expect from winter racing."
Greg Paxton on the Deep Water mark set/windward mark boat said, "The wind was steady from 210-220 degrees, which made our job very easy." Wind speed stayed at 12-15 knots with gusts to 17 – for the first two races – which made it good for the racers and the race committee. "It got much colder and windier for the last race," said Skip Shapiro of the Deep Water start line boat, Pelican. The ebb was building, which contributed to some over-earlies in the last race.
The J/120s had a good third race with three boats in a tight formation – until all hell broke loose. After winning the first two races of the day and again leading in the third, Steve Madeira's J/120 Mr. Magoo had a major sail issue at the second leeward mark and headed straight back to the club.
Magoo's Tommy Allard explained. "We took our douse deep to the leeward mark with another J/120, Desdemona, on port tack coming in hot, slightly ahead and above us. As we started to hoist our jib, Desdemona threw in a tack to starboard on us just outside the three boat-length circle and forced us to jibe. In the process the half-raised jib came out of the pre-feeder so when we went back to jump the jib halyard after the jibe, some jib material got sucked up into the foil just before it got to the top. The halyard had been put on a winch to finish up the hoist, so it was jammed in there tighter than tight and three guys who rarely skip a meal cussed and stomped and pulled but couldn't get it down. We tried everything and anything, as we were getting pushed towards the jetty. We bought some more time by tacking back towards the course, but eventually we had to cut the bolt rope and some material out of the foil with a rigging knife. It was the shame of shames as we were dialing-up a brand new all-carbon class jib before the J/120 Fleet Season begins in a couple weeks. Making the decision to unsheath the silverware wasn't easy – especially after that new jib seemed to help give us good boat speed all day."
Also during the last race, another J/120, John Wimer's Desdemona, ripped a main from leech to luff. "They had to do a '720' penalty turn," described one of the RC volunteers. "The batten got caught and they had to do another 360 to clear it."
"Surprisingly, although we were one of the slow boats in our PHRF division," said Mike Mannix, crew on Kame Richards' Express 37 Golden Moon, "the fast boats didn't sail away from us in races 1 and 2. Then, when the wind built in the third race, the big heavy boats were able to stretch out their legs and got going." He added, "We decided we're a two-race crew."
Raven, a new Beneteau First 35, sailed by David Schumann with Jeff Thorpe of Quantum Sails onboard, was out for only her third race and scored 2-1-2. David had a cruising boat, but he used to be a dinghy racer, and wanted to race again. "I'm really liking it. We did Berkeley Midwinters and today. This was our third race. Today was awesome. We had a lot of pressure, like the middle of summer." Raven is a 2009 model. "We're hoping to get a one design fleet together," said David.
Mark Howe's Farr 36 OD War Pony sailed with Steve McCarthy of Hogin Sails and rigger Jon Stewart. "We're a little rusty," said Steve. "But we had a couple of good downwind runs." Mark said, "It's tough to set up for 10 knots and get low 20s. The spinnaker was just too big." They were exhausted after the second race. "And then the race committee gave us three laps in the third race," said Mark. They had an injury onboard when Dale Scoggins fell into the forepeak hatch. He was sent to the hospital then went home diagnosed with a broken rib. "The Pony beats the shit out of you," said Mark.
Kim Stuart, Mike Maloney and Michaela Draper borrowed a Viper. "It was a wet, cold day," said Mike. "We shrimped the kite and blew the halyard. We couldn't rerig it – we were done for the day. It was blowing too hard for just three of us. We didn't have enough weight onboard. It was a borrowed boat, so we had to be careful, especially racing to weather."
"What a day!" said Kim. "Too bad we had to quit; we had a blast!" Michaela drove the first race, then Kim drove the second race. "The wind got up too much, and the rig was out of tune," said Michaela. "We said that if we want to race tomorrow, we can't carry on now. We needed to fix some things so we could race on Sunday."
As always, Saturday's racing was followed by a buffet dinner, generous drinks and a rocking dance band.
The second day of racing in the Big Daddy consists of a pursuit race around Alcatraz and Angel Island – in either direction. The first boat to start, Lori Dennis's Cal 2-27 Jack Aubrey, started at 12:30, and Oracle Racing's old IACC USA 76, skippered by Jonathan Buser, was the last boat to start, at 13:25:38. Jack Aubrey would also be the last boat to finish, at 15:50. USA 76 finished 20th.
Golden Moon went counter-clockwise for current and wind. Mike Mannix described their race: "The westerly filled in out of Raccoon Strait. We had a close reach to Alcatraz, a run from the Little Alcatraz buoy, then jibed to round Alcatraz and had a fast headstay reach all the way back to the finish, so just the one jibe all day." They finished 17th.
"Seventy-five percent of the boats went clockwise – but that was the wrong way this year," said Susie Koide of the Sydney 36 Encore. "That was way longer than the 10.4 nm they say it is," said John Dukat, whose newly remodeled Mancebo 24 Critical Mass came in 77th. "We were the second boat to start and finished third to last. The boats starting after us covered us and took our wind. We were fine once we turned downwind." All 79 boats that started finished – that doesn't always happen.
Jay Hickman, crew on John Clauser's 1D48 Bodacious+, said they were the first "wrong way" monohull, after some cats. "We saw a wind hole and flood in Raccoon Strait, so we didn't go that way. But we found a bigger wind hole at Point Blunt," the southern point of Angel Island. "That was the beginning of the 'oh shits'. We saw Hawkeye coming around the other way at the south end of Alcatraz and knew we'd gone the wrong way." Hawkeye finished sixth, Bodacious+ 19th.
At 14:35:00, those left behind at Richmond YC heard two guns fired in quick succession. It sounded just like the signal for a postponement, except that it was followed immediately by a whistle. Turns out the guns were for Buzz Blackett's Antrim Class 40 California Condor, the first boat to finish, followed within seconds by Andy Costello's 32-ft catamaran Lightspeed. Both leaders went counter-clockwise. The whistle was for the third place boat, Dan Thielman's R/P 44 Tai Kuai.
After Sunday's race, awards of big beer mugs and big bottles of Big Daddy ale were handed out by PRO Fred Paxton, who joked to the J/120 fleet: "You want another three times around?"
All the results can be found at www.richmondyc.org.