Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Great Vallejo Race- Fun Sailing on the Bay!

The Great Vallejo Race on San Francisco Bay (Vallejo, CA)- This not too often publicized event is hosted by the great, one and only, Vallejo YC.  Where is that, one might ask?  Click here- they are cool and they love to sail!  They also host one of San Francisco Bay’s more notorious races and dock parties!

The race most often starts near the Berkeley Circle on Saturday morning, rounds a single weather mark near Alcatraz, and then heads to Vallejo, usually under spinnaker for the remainder of the race.  The challenge is to maintain speed through the shadow of Angel Island, find the best combination of wind and current past the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and East Brother Light Station, and then avoid the mud shoals on the east side of the San Pablo Bay. Depending on the day, the passage can be a challenging breeze (intentional pun), or a miserable drifter, complicated - as always - by the currents, no matter its direction.

The Great Vallejo Race sailing up San Francisco BayAs the boats enter Carquinez Strait, they bunch together, making the turn into Mare Island Strait a nightmare for many boats.  Because of the topography of Mare Island, as well as the fact that it sits at the mouth of the Napa River, local knowledge (or many years of sailing the race) can make the difference as the yachts maneuver toward the finish line on the Vallejo city waterfront.  Winds vary from light to heavy, and becoming exceedingly shifty.  By the time they enter the Strait, many of the crews are let's say "over-relaxed" by sun, surf, and suds.  This is where the fun really starts!  In the mad dash for the finish line, sharp crews can usually pick off several places with close attention to trim, wind, and current.  Just be sure to check your charts and keep a close watch on your depth sounder! Yah! Good point. Since, touching bottom, often means you win!  As one sage in the UK, who is quite familiar with similar strategies on the Solent, once declared (Bob Fisher to be exact), “you’re not winning until you’re dredging”!

In this year’s version of the Great Vallejo dash, J/crews sailed quite well.  In PHRF 2 Class, the J/44 VIAJANTE skippered by Bill Williams took 4th place.  In PHRF 3 Class, the J/120 SAETTA helmed by Ludovic Millin was 2nd.

Gary Panariello’s J/88 COURAGEOUS won PHRF 4 Class, followed by Elvin Valverde’s J/35 JOKER in sixth and Bob Bloom’s J/35 JARLEN in ninth.

Tony Castruccio’s J/30 WINDSPEED took the gold in PHRF 13 Class and silver was taken by Grant Harless’ J/29 BAY LOON.  Yet another J/30, Peter Jermyn’s IONE, was sixth and Chris Boome’s J/32 RHAPSODY was 8th.  Finally, the J/24s crushed PHRF 16 class, with Darren Cumming’s DOWNTOWN UPROAR 1st and Jasper Can Vliet’s EVIL OCTUPUS in 2nd.

The big J/105 one-design class saw spirited competition, with BLACKHAWK (Kristin Simmons) winning followed by 007 (Justin Hersh) second and CUCHULAININ (Jim Mullen) in third.  For more Great Vallejo Race sailing information