Three Bridge Fiasco 1/28/17

(If you like, you can skip down through the prose and go straight to the pictures below!)

We got lucky with a nice day for the annual Three Bridge Fiasco race on January 28th. Starting off the Golden Gate YC Race Deck in a pursuit start (slowest boats first), the course includes the Blackaller Buoy, near the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, Red Rock, adjacent to the Richmond - San Rafael Bridge, and Treasure Island /Yerbu Buena Island in the middle of the Bay Bridge. Thus the "Three Bridge" part of the name. The "Fiasco" part of the title means that you can cross the start and finish line in any direction, the round any mark in any sequence in any direction. Factor in the current, which this year had a 2.9 max flood at 1000 just after the starts begin, and the wind shadows, and morning vs. afternoon seabreeze and it's a perfect tactician's delight.

Below are the finish times for Islanders, followed by Serenity's description, and pictures. We'll add any other narratives we get! Enjoy.

3 Bridge Fiasco
Start: 01/28/17 at 09:00:00Fleet:
Course: 1Distance: 21.67Started:
Sail #Boat NameSkipperPoints
472ZENITHBill Nork / Peter Nork16:29:561
6763CASSIOPEIAKit Wiegman / Mara Gutmann16:31:092
57307WINDWALKERRichard Shoenhair / Tom Shoenhair16:32:183
234RENAISSANCE OF TAHOEStephen Douglass / Ralph Woodard16:35:504
484ZINGARASteve And Jocelyn Swanson / Jocelyn Reed Swanson16:39:135
82659SERENITYEric Mueller / Roger Anderson16:45:486
438KAPAIRichard Egan / Trevor Egan16:58:037
420LUNA SEADan Knox / Alex HofsteedeDNF9
From Serenity:
The Three Bridge Fiasco race this weekend was amazing! 360 entries in the largest race in the country. It is a double Handed race that has always been a favorite in the area. Roger, who I have known for twenty plus years, agreed to go along. Maybe we will try his boat next year. It was a long day for Roger and me. We started meeting at the boat about 5:10 in the morning. Both of us bundled to the hilt against the cold. We quickly got the supplies stored, I got the engine started while Roger grabbed some ice for the cooler. We got going around 0540 expecting a bit of a fight against the current. We had coffee and tea to keep us warm. The trip on the way up to the city was uneventful.

Once we got to Golden Gate Yacht club we debated bribing the race committee with Irish Coffee. We were caught by traffic and by the time we could pull in I missed the chance to pull into a GGYC spot. I mistimed the approach with the NE wind and did not give Roger enough time to get the lines ready. Realizing it was not going to work with the increasing number of boats going back and forth we headed out, but not before stopping and offering Irish Coffee to I believe Zenith.

Once out in the melee all thoughts of our planned handing out of Irish Coffee to other islander 36's went out the window. There was a decent wind from the east and the boats started piling up behind the start line. We got our sails up and waited for our start window. Earlier in the week and on the way up to the start that morning Roger and I had discussed options for which way to go based upon the wind and how much current we were seeing. If we didn't have any wind we would go up current of the start and drift across the line and let the current take us down the city front. If we had wind we would run up to Blackaller and use the current to drive us through Raccoon Straits, go around Red Rock, then on to TI and back. With the wind it looked like our plan was pretty popular from the early starts.

When we tried to head towards the start line, we found ourselves cut off by an appropriately named express 27, El Raton. He forced us to do a donut before getting to the start line. Once across the start line it was a broad reach with a couple of people trying to get chutes up. We stayed about halfway between the farthest out boats and boats closest to shore as we seemed to be getting good benefit without going out too far. It was a smooth rounding at Blackaller with Roger at the strings and me at the wheel.

Eventually I ended up with the main sheet while Roger handled the Jib. It was a little odd going across just inside the Golden Gate Bridge fully powered on a Starboard tack. (Ed: a normal west wind has everyone on PORT tack by the Gate.) We tacked over onto Port when we got to the current gradient on the north side of the GGBR before the wind shadow. We had to duck another islander 36 or two on the way down towards Harding Rock. We went a bit past Harding after saying hello to Zingara. We made our tack and found ourselves running in a wind shadow from another boat so we tacked over further in towards Angel Island. Once we thought we were in a good spot we headed straight through to the other side of Raccoon Strait. We went far enough to where we thought we could make it the rest of the way through on one tack. We got all the way to the end of Raccoon and found a tide line. Watching the knotmeter told us we need to tack again so we tacked to the north and stayed in the good water and watched another islander 36 keep on trucking out. We went way in then tacked out. Roger suggested going counterclockwise around Red Rock and the reasoning seemed sound. The boats going inside seemed to be going slow. We headed way out and tacked for the east side. We had the advantage of running behind the big traffic that came through. So missed most of the wind shadow. We still had to tack once to get clear around the rock. We were in good company with a SC 50 doing the same thing.

It put us on the west side for the run down the bay. We seemed to keep moving (albeit slowly) when a lot of the other boats stopped. That is until we ran into the wall with everyone else. The line of boats was incredible to see. We were on the western end in a good location. Unfortunately when the wind filled in we were rolled by a 40' trimaran which slowed us down a little. Once along TI we were hampered by a 32'er camping on our wind and a couple of J22's with spinnakers up playing tag. The winds were light and it was a lot of slow sailing. Once we got under the Bay Bridge we gybed to starboard. After a little bit a green trimaran on Port tack came from behind and cut us off and forced us into an unintentional gybe. He did not acknowledge our hails that we were on starboard even though we were right next to him. He just ignored everyone around him and kept going. We let the boat to our port know that the trimaran was a rouge element. It was close enough quarters that I called protest and Roger put up a flag. He proceeded to finish cutting us and a few other people off. We then got cornered inside with people still on our wind so took a while to get into the wind on the south side. Once we did we headed up on a close reach towards the city. We were showing 10 kts over the ground about way inside of the boats that went way out. We figured we were making up the maybe knot gain by traveling a shorter distance.

Once we made it through the finish we turned around to head back home. A great sail had. We even saw a couple of Islanders heading home. Once we were heading down the city front we looked back to see a great sunset through the gate. Then around the corner as the sun set and the Bay Bridge light show started. We started the motor half way down the city front and motor sailed the rest of the way home. We got in somewhere around 2030-2045 and both of us were toast. We did give a couple of Irish coffee's to Sweet Grapes who finished about 10 minutes in front of us. We never saw them. As soon as the boat was put away we headed home. Happy from a great race. Roger was fantastic and his skill and patience unmatched! Thank you.

Our next plan is to get some of that winter maintenance done. The winches need greasing. The engine needs an oil change and new zincs. The boat needs a complete cleaning and checkout. The handrails also need to be pulled and revarnished. Not to mention the non-skid needs touching up here and there. Roger was talking dual duty (his boat as well) for the weekend of the 14th if anyone is available. Let me know! Gung hay fat choi!

Pictures by Commodore Susan Nork, Steve Swanson & Eric Mueller. Click on images to enlarge, click "Back" to return.

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Serenity sunrise
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Windwalker drifts
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Susan gets off ...
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Bill & Peter get ...
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Zenith under way
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Serenity heads out ...
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under sail.
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Freeport 36 in the mix
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Zenith too.
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Luna Sea has ...
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gone fishing.
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Off toward Blackaller!
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Zingara with
Racoon Strait astern
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Rounded Red Rock
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Towed by Kapai
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Heading Home
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Golden sunset
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Beautiful Bay Bridge

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