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Kevin Durant's Moore 24 Double Trouble, sailing back to the South Beach finish of their Nationals. ©2012 Stephen Buckingham
Express 27 and Moore 24 Nationals
September 30, 2012
The Express 27 and Moore 24 fleets both started their three-day National Championships on Friday with single long distance races. Richmond YC hosted the Express 27s, South Beach YC the Moore 24s.
Friday rush hour traffic was horrendous on Bay Area freeways, but Steve Sarsfield, doing pit on Don Carroll's Express 27 Take Five, laughed at the complaints of commuters. "I was stuck in traffic for three hours! Unless you're out in front or way behind, you always have other boats to talk to in this fleet."
Motorcycle Irene was still stepping the mast at Richmond YC an hour and a half before the Express 27 start, but they were doing great in the race until the hefty Zach Anderson fell overboard. The linings of his foulies quickly became water-logged, making him even heavier. It took the 'Cyclers nine minutes to get him back onboard. But they continued racing and crawled back up the fleet to tenth place out of 22 boats.
The race went through the tide transition from flood to ebb. On the first beat from the start at XOC in the center of the Berkeley Circle, Ray Lotto's El Raton went to the north corner, over to Angel Island for current relief. They popped the righthand corner in Sausalito too. They made it around Yellow Bluff, the windward mark, first, with no one in front of them to show them the way through the wind shifts. They had to throw in an extra tack like so many others would after them. But their sets and douses were perfect, and they would finish first.
Blossom Rock was the jibe mark; a lot of boats had trouble there. "I wanted a long course with no islands and no bridges," said PRO Fred Paxton. "I was feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about it." The leeward mark was a temporary set up near BOC on the north end of the Berkeley Circle. A lot of boats sailed almost to Richmond's Brooks Island to get there, while others sailed directly to the mark. The last finisher, Summer Palace, came in just 22 seconds before the cut-off time of 30 minutes behind the first finisher.
Fourteen Moore 24s sailed from the Berkeley Pier out to Pt. Bonita on Friday, with a finish at McCovey Cove. Stephen Buckingham was on Gilles Combrison's Bad Bank, and described the race: "It was ebbing pretty good. On the way out, we went up the right side, which didn't pay off. At Bonita, the wind was kind of light and shifty. We had to decide which way to come in on the way back, against the ebb. We cut over to Baker Beach, then jibed at the South Tower, then everyone went down the Cityfront. It was shifty at the finish. We could have sailed through the South Beach marina to get there and maybe pass some boats." Out of 14 boats sailing, Mark Christensen on Pegasus MotionX finished first.
Tom Jenkins' Express 27 Witchy Woman is missing the Nationals. He was lifting the boat off the trailer at Brickyard Cove on Thursday, when misfortune struck. "I got the boat high enough to clear the trailer, approximately four feet from the keel bottom to the ground." The boats are lifted from the keelboats inside the bilge. "One of the two keel bolts sheared off from within the keel. Once the bolt sheared, the boat obviously fell to the ground sustaining massive damage." Witchy Woman is well maintained, but visual inspection did not reveal the problem. You can read Tom's entire message to the Express 27 fleet here. The keel is split and the rudder is damaged, but fortunately the hull does not appear to be breached.
Although the Express 27s have a fleet based in Detroit, the boat traveling the furthest to come to the Nationals is Ted Lohr's Monster Express from Hood River, OR.
On Saturday the wind didn't get much above 15 knots, but subjectively it felt more like low twenties to the racers, who were drenched and tired from the steep ebb chop. "The waves were a little stacky," said Aaron Lee, who sailed on the Express 27 Ergo. In that fleet, which sailed three double-sausage races on the Berkeley Circle, everyone started with #1 jibs for the first race, then changed down for the rest of the day. Jennifer McKenna, foredeck on Wetsu, said, as her hair dripped on the carpet in RYC's lounge, that she spent the day getting splashed so that others could stay dry. "It was awesome!" was her catch-phrase of the day.
The Express 27s had a general recall in the start of the second race. "And I never have general recalls," said Paxton. But the ebb was as fierce as the competition and pushed the eager boats over the line.
For the third race, Fred had the course 3 flag ready to hoist, to signal a longer triple-sausage, then he thought the fleet wouldn't make it back in time for their party, so he went with course 2 again instead. The wet and weary racers were grateful.
Scott Parker's Freaks ona Leash broke their spinnaker pole during the last race, and had to sail the last run without it. Dominic Marchal served as a human spinnaker pole. They doused for the jibe, then got bored and reset. A generous competitor lent them an extra pole for Sunday.
Over on the Moore 24 course, the wind was super light before the start, then it picked up. By the third race it was blowing pretty hard, and leading boat Pegasus MotionX broke their boom. They bridled their main for the long run home from Harding Rock to the finish, which was in McCovey Cove again, home to the San Francisco Giants and 90-degree wind shifts. Pegasus MotionX finished sixth in that race, allowing Bart Hackworth's Gruntled to displace them as the regatta leader.