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Green Buffalo
Green Buffalo hot on the heels of Hylite in June 3's OYRA race. ©2017 Michael Jarzabkowski
OYRA Race Committee's Choice

June 6, 2017

Along with 'set' ocean races — Half Moon Bay, Farallones, Drake's Bay — OYRA has two 'Race Committee's Choice' races for which the RC has a smorgasbord of choices. Depending on wind that morning, OYRA boats might visit buoys at Duxbury Reef; the North, West or South Entrance; or the Lightship. It’s up to the day’s Race Committee to decide.

Since wind direction is critical to that choice, racers watch NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones forecast during the week prior to RC Choice races with particular attention. The week before the June 3 RC Choice race, NOAA’s prediction was for “NW wind 15-25" and a "Small Craft Advisory for strong northwest winds and a fresh swell producing rough seas through the weekend.”

A light fleet of 13 monohulls and 3 multihulls showed up at the St. Francis Yacht Club startline for the race. They were met with southwest wind around 10-12 knots. The expected noon-time ebb did show up to aid their exit under the Golden Gate Bridge and out beyond Lands End. While a little confused, sea conditions were almost ideal.

The Encinal YC Race Committee hosting the race opted for a course from StFYC directly down to the South Entrance Buoy and back, for a 32-mile race. After the start, boats headed for the middle and were swept under the Gold Gate Bridge by the Sierra runoff-aided ebbing current. Staying in the middle beyond the bridge paid off. Going north did not.

Beyond Lands End most boats opted for a WNW course hoping the promised northwesterly wind would appear. Instead, Lori Tewsbury, sailing her Express 27 with Eric Ochs as crew, reported finding her “own private wind hole" and changed up to the #1. Lori was not the only boat changing to larger headsails when the promised wind failed to appear. Jim Quanci and crew on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo and OYRA President Andy Newell on the Santana 35 Ahi also reported light wind beyond Point Bonita.

While the majority continued sailing WNW looking for the layline down to the South Entrance Buoy, the multis and several monohulls opted for an early tack southward. As the northern boats continued looking for the predicted northwesterly to appear, the southbound boats sailed a shorter distance. Chris Kramer in his Columbia C32 Six Brothers and Tom Boussie sailing singlehanded in his Capo 30 JouJou chose the southerly route and were the first monohulls to round the yellow South Buoy. Pat Broderick’s Wyliecat Nancy was not far behind.

When the wind finally clocked around, the northern boats found they had overstood the South Buoy while the southern boats found themselves lifted toward it, rounding the mark first. Bob Johnston doublehanding his J/92 Ragtime! with Dave Morris commented, "We ended up wildly overstood and had a fairly fast reach down to the ‘weather’ mark.”

The long leg back to the finish line at StFYC became a reaching parade with waterline most important. Michael Jarzabkowski, sailing his Hylas 49 Hylite singlehanded observed, “All the boats were all on a beam reach, and with staysail and genoa out, I caught and passed several boats that rounded ahead of me . . . until the wind backed and I saw Ahi, Green Buffalo and a few others get their kites up.” Hylite stayed with white sails as chutes blossomed on the other boats, and Michael soon found himself being passed by the full-crew boats.

Most boats chose to sail inside Mile Rock, taking advantage of the countercurrent running along Baker Beach to avoid the 2-knot ebb. Bob Johnston reached across to the Marin side and back but figured, “It appeared to work out about even.”

Wind speed increased increased into the low 20s at the South Tower, and the demon gave boats rounding too close misery. Tewksbury and Ochs on Hang 20 were “lulled into keeping the kite up when we went under the bridge, and after the third round-up the kite exploded." They finished under main alone. They were not the only boat to finish under white sails.

Tom Boussie commented, “No whales, but a gorgeous day on the ocean.”

There were no boats sailing Divisions 1 and 2. In Division 3, Adam Mazurkiewicz’s Express 27 Yeti corrected out in first place. Bob Walden’s Cal 39 Sea Star came in second, followed by Green Buffalo.

The Shorthanded Division was taken by Nancy followed by Ragtime! and Six Brothers.

The Multihull Division was won by Truls Myklebust’s F-27 Raven with Damien Campbell’s F-31R Trident second and Rick Waltonsmith’s Explorer 44 trimaran Round Midnight third. (Any boat named for Monk’s 1944 classic jazz standard deserves better than third place!)

Full results and tracks are available on

— pat broderick

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