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E.T. and JetStream would probably have liked a little more wind for this year's Great Vallejo Race. ©2012 norcalsailing.com
Super Vallejo Race
May 7, 2012
Unrelenting sun, relieved only by a full perigee moon ("super moon"), beat down on this weekend's Great Vallejo Race fleet, forcing them to endure a long day of almost unbearable pleasantness. Adequate hydration and high quality sunscreen played key factors in the successful completion of the day's activities. Playing some favorite tunes helped too. But there was a B Side to this record. San Francisco Bay denizens who revel in wind, wind, and more wind would be talking at the bar later of their frustration.
Slower boats were left on the course through the change of tides from flood to ebb, enhancing the leisurely nature of forward progress. "It's three o'clock – if the wind hasn't filled in by now, it's not going to," observed a crew member who was sailing through San Pablo Bay at that magical hour on Saturday. If you recall last year, Saturday's wind didn't fill in until 1700 hours, much later than usual. This year, the northwesterly piped up at 1600, allowing the boats still lingering in San Pablo Bay to take off on a one-jibe spinnaker reach to the entrance of Mare Island Strait.
By that time, some of the faster boats were already sailing back through the fleet on their way home. We've never understood the turn-and-burn. This is the Party Circuit after all. Isn't the party (not to mention Sunday's race!) an important part of the event?
This year, the downside of staying in Vallejo was the unavailability of the Municipal Marina, which is just next door and an easy walk to the hosting Vallejo Yacht Club. Normally, the marina accommodates a large number of the race boats, keeping the raft-up at the yacht club to a manageable size. But, no doubt due to budget cuts resulting from the city's backruptcy a few years ago, the marina has not been dredged and the entrances are down to 2-3 feet of depth, barely enough for a small power boat and inadequate for almost all sailboats.
As a result, the boats really were packed into VYC like sardines, completely filling the harbor. Some deeper draft boats found a mound on the bottom of the entrance and had to get unstuck while finishers stacked up outside waiting, fending off each other and the harbor's metal breakwater.
Steven Poe shot a time-lapse video of the rafting-up. See http://vimeo.com/41811145.
The patient rafters were rewarded with a smashing party, partly thanks to sponsor Mount Gay rum, the food trucks set up like a carnival midway, the dance band Alibi, and the chance to get caught up with friends in a festive atmosphere.
Sunday morning's blue sky promised a day like Saturday, only more so. The fields of exposed mud surrounding the docks promised a flooding current. A nice little northerly fluttered the battle flags, promising a run down the river. VYC's generous breakfast buffet and "recovery station" serving bloody marys and mimosas sent the racers on their way – down to their boats for the amusing reverse process of un-rafting. The starts proceded on time, with a dead-downwind run in the river followed by a beat to the finish line in shallow water between Marin Island and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
Again, the conditions were almost pleasant enough to induce boredom, but the apparent breeze was enough to fend off heat stroke. This was a weekend when storytelling ability and a good supply of jokes were important crew skills.
Preliminary results were posted promptly. See www.yra.org.