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And so begins the long close-hauled leg back to Berkeley. ©2012 norcalsailing.com
Round the Rocks with the SSS
September 10, 2012
Four rocks and an island were the new marks on a new race course for the Singlehanded Sailing Society on Saturday. Thought up by Commodore Max Crittenden, the idea was to replace the old Richmond-South Beach Race with a more challenging San Francisco Bay tour starting and finishing near Berkeley. "We quit starting races in Potrero Reach off Richmond Yacht Club a couple of years ago. We're getting so many entries that it was dangerous to have the whole fleet in there," said Max "For this year we wanted a new idea for the start. I suggested setting up the race committee on the east side of Treasure Island, with the Campanile at UC marking the line, but Jackie Philpott (SSS Race Information Officer) worked her connections with Berkeley YC, and Bob and Betty Gray volunteered to provide a committee boat on the Circle and put on a barbecue at the club afterwards."
After the start at XOC in the center of the Olympic Circle, the racers beat in a southwesterly breeze of about 10-15 knots to Alcatraz, which they rounded to starboard (that was the first rock.) Once around Alcatraz, the next mark was Harding Rock to starboard (rock two). That turned out to be a nice one tack fetch. From there you were on your own to The Brothers anyway – you – like as long, as you kept Red Rock to starboard (rock three). 100% of the fleet went through Raccoon Strait as that's the shortest distance. The wind went light but the boats kept moving past Red Rock and on to the leeward mark – the Brothers (a fourth rock plus an island). Then back to the finish off of Berkeley Marina, taking Red Rock to port this time.
The finish line was the yellow BYC mark as the pin end and secret finish line coordinates with the race committee hiding on shore somewhere. The latter was unintentional but created some havoc for the finishers as they could hear no horns or other sounds to confirm their finishes and couldn't see the race committee end of the line. A lot of radio chatter ensued with the "Hey, did we finish?" and "Is this the finish?" being heard over on the race's VHF frequency.
Most of the racers liked the change of course but some grumbled about too much heavy wind upwind work and not enough running, making it a long day. Gordie Nash, who sailed with wife Ruth Suzuki on the Mod. Santana 27 Arcadia summed up their race: "Two upwind, two reaching and one downwind leg makes for an interesting and fun day. The SSS has always based their races on long courses, and while some of the racers are hardcore, the rest can enjoy fun, stress-free racing." While we've seen a decline in the number of boats competing on the Bay in other race series, the SSS has been growing their entries by offering diverse courses and an easy-going style that seems to be working. And mixing up the race course every once in a while is a good thing.
The awards for the Round the Rocks race will be given out on Wednesday, September 19, at Oakland YC. See www.sfbaysss.org for details, results, and season standings. The next and final regatta in the SSS season is the Vallejo 1-2, coming up on October 6-7.