Blackhawk Sets Tanker as Pick, Edges out Arbitrage in Windy 2017 Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational

The Sausalito Yacht Club J/105 Invitational on July 22-23 brought 19 J/105s out of their summer slumber for a weekend of heavy air racing—typical SF Bay summer conditions with winds in high teens and building into the 20s, with gusts into the mid-30s on Sunday. The Race Committee set up the starting area off the west face of Alcatraz and the windward mark toward mid-span of the Golden Gate Bridge. With a significant flood tide on both days, many boats were doing dip-line starts. The PRO managed to cant the line so that competitors had to make a decision—start at the pin, closer to the relief along the city front, or start 15-20 degrees upwind toward the signal boat and hope that was enough to outweigh the extra time spent in a foul tide. Once the fleet hit the city front, the decision was reversed—tack back into the middle of the Bay on layline, fighting more current, or sail extra distance in the better water. With such a heavily favored side of the course upwind, there was a premium on clear lanes and the ability to tack when desired, leaving many boats no choice but to overstand the weather mark. Conditions Saturday were classic San Francisco summer, with 15-25 knot winds with fog rolling in and significant ebb chop in race 3. The finish to race 1 proved to be one of the more exciting and critical moments in the regatta. Arbitrage, Blackhawk and Godot all came into the downwind finish overlapped, slightly above layline for the left (pin) end of the line. With the heavy flood tide and breeze near 20 knots, a late decision by Godot caused all three to overstand and started a chain reaction of them jibing and broaching, leaving the tide to take them across the finish line. Both Arbitrage and Blackhawk protested Godot for not providing room to finish, and the protest was scheduled for Thursday. After two more races, Blackhawk held a three-point lead over Arbitrage and Godot, pending the outcome of the protest. Sunday brought a repeat of the conditions from Saturday—15-20 knot breeze with a flood tide for race 1 led to a runaway victory for Arbitrage, with the next boat a half leg back. The three boats were tied going into the final race, pending the prior day’s protest. At the start of the final race, the same decision had to be made—start on the left end of the line and go for current relief, or start at the heavily favored right side. Blackhawk and Godot chose the pin, and Arbitrage the committee end. Soon after the start, a tanker came through the fleet. The boats at the pin were able to cross to the relief on the City Front and had a significant advantage over Arbitrage, Advantage and a few others who had to tack back into the flood so as to avoid the tanker. Blackhawk then led around the first weather mark, and with the heavy flood tide and 20-25 knot breeze, the lead quickly built. By the end of the race, the wind reached 25-30 knots with gusts into mid-30s, leading to planing conditions downwind and challenging maneuvers for all crews. Blackhawk went on the win the race, with Godot finishing second and Arbitrage a hard earned sixth after being forced to go behind the tanker on the first leg. Upon discussion after racing, Godot retired from race 1, leaving Blackhawk 4 points ahead of Arbitrage for the regatta victory. The top five were rounded out by Donkey Jack in third, Jam Session in fourth, and Godot in fifth, beating Hazardous Waste via tie breaker thanks to their victory in race 2. Full results at: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/15018#_newsroom+results

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