ARBITRAGE Triumphs at J/105 Valentine’s Rally

As part of their ongoing San Francisco J/105 Doublehanded Winter Series, the fleet got together for their first-ever J/105 Valentine's Rally on February 14. San Francisco Bay served up its usual challenges to the sailors, having to make decisions between wind and current on every leg of the course. Here's the report from Bruce Stone from aboard ARBITRAGE:
"With the typically modest mid-winter breeze out of the northeast, and our starting area in front of Golden Gate YC, the RC announced a course to the East with port roundings. So, we re-ran our spin gear to account for that, but just 10 minutes before the warning, we had a shift to the WSW. So, the RC announced a last-minute call for the new course to Blackaller- just before the Golden Gate Bridge. OMG! So, us and the other crews scrambled to re-run the spin gear for the starboard rounding that would take everyone out into the flood tide. Given the adverse current, teams were challenged right from the start to exploit the relief along the shore and were ping-ponging off the breakwater in front of the St. Francis; normally quite easy with a full crew but a workout for double-handers. ARBITRAGE had a great start and, after making some gains toward the shore, decided to stretch out on port tack for the better wind just 100 yards out; it was the typical arbitrage of wind and tide...hence the name of the boat. ABITRAGE won that battle and rounded clear ahead, setting the kite and reaching out to the favorable flood in the light breeze. A long downwind to channel mark 4, passing Alcatraz to port, created passing opportunities for the trailing boats. Some went low toward Treasure Island, staying in the dying flood, while ARBITRAGE and JAM SESSION looked for better wind toward the north and took a gamble in cutting behind Alcatraz. That approach backfired, as they were both swept up in the reverse eddy of the famous cone. After apparently losing its lead, ARBITRAGE jibed back into fresh air and extricated themselves from the ebb in a clean spinnaker reach to the downwind mark, converging with the other boats that had stayed away from Alcatraz. Stone and Breault executed a Mexican drop just past the mark with the jib preset for the upwind leg and were able to round tightly and head right toward the finish at Golden Gate YC. However, our competitors were a little less fortunate, as the other teams dropped too early and struggled to round the mark in the light winds and early ebb tide. Everyone headed toward the city front as the flood had ended and ebb was established there. But, once again, wind pressure trumped tide, and it was better to stay in the deeper water. Tom Struttmann and Joerg Esdorn on ARRIVED went too far, ran out of wind and retired." In the end, the J/105 Valentine's Rally was won by Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault in ARBITRAGE, followed by Justin Oberbauer in STRANGELOVE, Adam Spiegel in JAM SESSION and Bill Woodruff in RUSSIAN ROULETTE.

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