Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational

San Francisco Bay whipped up a significant flood tide which, together with fearsome 20-27 kt winds, made for a challenging weekend for the 19 J/105s that made it out to the western face of Alcatraz for a weekend of windward-leeward racing in the Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational on July 23-24. Unlike racing anywhere in the country where you need to sail upwind both legs, time the oscillations of the shifts and take into account a progressive veer or backing of the wind based on forecasts, here it was a case of advance planning. Before leaving home, skipper Bruce Stone reviewed the wind and tide forecast with his team on Arbitrage and announced, "We’re starting at the pin and banging the shore for tide relief upwind, and then jibe setting or a quick set-and-jibe out to the bigger flood." Well, of course it doesn’t perfectly work like that, as you can do too much of a good thing. Arbitrage nailed the pin end of the line on the first two starts and led to the shore, winning both races by large margins. On the third try, the rest of the pack caught on and, with heavy traffic at the pin, Arbitrage managed to slide into the mark and had to jibe and restart, taking 18 sterns and going in the wrong direction, away from current relief. Regatta over? "We’ll get some leverage outside in more pressure – no other option." Heading into the teeth of the flood, they made little progress up the course while the fleet legged over to the shore. Coming back, Arbitrage was in solid last, but started picking people off, and passed two boats by the windward mark. Rounding the outside and seemingly wrong gate was a winner, gaining many lengths to windward and more boats.By the end of the race they finished tenth and were still leading the regatta, albeit by just one point. On Sunday, same weather and tide, and they once again couldn’t make the pin, jibed and restarted. Rinse and repeat, taking plenty of sterns and heading the wrong way, and it seemed once again that it was game over. However, when they tacked back toward the City Front, they saw that the fleet banging the shore headed into light air, while staying out in pressure allowed for major gains. Grinding up through the fleet, they made it through the scrum and finished second. Finally, Stone tried a more conservative start in the middle of the line, pulled away, and earned a solid third to secure the victory with a score line of 1,1,10,2 and 3, two points ahead of Steve Kent’s team on Perseverance and six points ahead of Philip Laby’s team on Godot. Stone remarked, "It was really special for the J/105 fleet to have a dedicated race course, with our own water and no delays. Sausalito YC did a great job in arranging this for us and dealing with really tough conditions for setting marks. Hospitality in sunny Sausalito was off the charts, with the Commodore pouring free beers for us and offering sandwiches. We’re looking forward to coming back next year. (Thanks to Bruce Stone for the report.)

Bruce pic

Photo caption: A crowd of J/105s starting mainly at the leeward end. Arbitrage is to the left, in front of ferry, jibing onto port tack to restart...flood tide having swept them far back (photo credit Cynthia Willson)

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