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The race was held off San Francisco's Mission Bay, which is unrecognizable from the first Plastic Classic 28 years ago. ©2012 norcalsailing.com
Plastic Classic Cheese Factor Endures
July 16, 2012
Bay View Boat Club's signature event, the Plastic Classic, was held in the South Bay on Saturday. If you were there, you'd notice that the cheese factor has not diminished over the years, since the first race for '60s and '70s fiberglass boats rounded the T Mark, which featured ground-breaking San Francisco topless dancer Carol Doda.
This year's race was the 28th edition, and a few things have changed. Boats must have been designed more than 25 years ago, but this opens the door to the likes of Olson 25s, which had their own division, Tartan Tens, Soverel 30s, Hobie 33s, and so on. But the Tritons still have a one design, and you can still find other old Pearson designs (like the Electra and Commander) among the entries. Gary Mull-designed Ranger 23s had enough boats for their own division, but perhaps some of them waited too long to register and so sailed in a PHRF division.
Down by Pier 54, Bay View Boat Club in their funky yellow building and rambling waterfront garden warmed by a pot-bellied stove is no longer surrounded by aging boat yards. Instead, a tall forest of modern glass biotech buildings has sprung up in the old Mission Bay neighborhood, dwarfing the clubhouse and giving it the air of a maritime treasure spared from destruction.
Carol Doda has of course moved on (she's now running a lingerie shop in San Francisco), but the T Mark is still there, tucked into the cove in front of the club, filled with girls flashing the sailors, trying to distract them from setting their spinnakers. Racers must round the T mark twice, and then finish there.
The forecast for Saturday called for the usual 15-knot westerly. But the weather was surprisingly warm and sunny, and a light easterly wafted across the race course. At 12:50, five minutes before the first gun, the race committee threw in a postponement, to "wait for the wind to come from the right direction." They know their race conditions, and sure enough a moderate westerly filled in and the sequence began 25 minutes late.
If you've raced close to shore in San Francisco's South Bay, you'll be familiar with the "swirlies," random, gusty wind shifts that swirl around the new tall buildings, and you'll know that out in the middle of the South Bay the wind is the strongest. Those things were true on Saturday. The 10.92 nm course takes the sailors on a couple of big loops around the racing area (like a big triangle-sausage). The boats had a reasonably fast race and the sailors were ready for the party by late afternoon.
The Sea Bop jazz band played on the deck in the afternoon; they would be replaced by Curtis Lawson's blues dance band in the evening. Hungry sailors chowed down on a voluminous buffet, and the race committee handed out awards, including take-home prizes that resembled Olympic medals. Complete results and much more can be found at www.plasticclassic.com.