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SanDiego505 - Bay to Bay 2002

Saturday, May 4, 2002

Unofficial Results

Position Boat Name and Crew Elapsed Time
1 Weasel – Dan Merino, Bill Jenkins 3:48:15
2 88th Planet – Ed Hill,Rob Waterman 3:59:30
3 Bob – Chris Stomberg, John Henke 4:10:33
4 TGIF - Bill McKinney, Steve Schnelker 4:18:45
5 The Kitty - John Billings, John Billings  4:18:55
6 Taz – Marc Winger, Mike Jue 4:29:20
7 Mental Floss – Dan Downing, Geoff Nelson 4:29:40
8 Freebee – Mike Barry, Roger Lovett 4:32:30
9 Carte Blanche – Gregg Hansen, Dave Eberhardt Unknown

Course Track

Team TGIF has supplied their course track for the 2002 Bay to Bay as recorded with onboard GPS. The 'planned' course is denoted by the straight lines on the map. Note that the very healthy kelp forest required us to sail further out than the 'plan'.

Race Reports

Prior years' summaries are available for 2001, 2000 and 1999

Floss Flies Downwind!

The race for team Floss started out in typical fashion with a late arrival to MBYC and the later realization I had grabbed the old(er) sales which I have never used and had '88 PCC's written on them.

Without time to get the regular (old) sails... I resigned to use these and got to know my new crew, Dan Downing. I had suspicions I was in for a learning experience. We rigged and made the start on time without too much trauma. After a confusing start, we were immediately aware we could not point as well as many other boats and were looking forward to just making it around the kelp for the reach. With only one kelp bash hard enough to retract the center board, we were off. About 1/2 way down, Dan started to try to convice me we could hold the chute (despite the fact no one in the fleet had tried it yet). I resisted for a few minutes citing my severe lack of time helming wire reaches/runs but eventually gave in to the temptation of being the first boat to try. We set the chute and were off.... I noticed a few minutes later that (I think) Weasel had theirs up as well (waaaayyyy in front of us) and within 3-4 minutes most of the rest of the fleet did as well. The amazing thing was how much we picked up in that short time. We went from near then back of the pack (7 or 8th) to 4th just behind Bob and way in front of Kitty, TGI and Taz. Needless to say, this made me extremely happy! Dan had some very interesting ideas on spin halyard height and vang which obviously helped us substantially and we experimented a lot. The long run was also good for getting our timing down for falling off and surfing the waves (mostly mine timing, really- I think he'd done this once or twice before).

We held on to that position for the rest of the leg and toward the mark rounding. We were unable to get ahead of Bob but were very happy to stay right on their tail even though we had a small chute. A late attempt to pass them using a commercial fishing boat to peel them off did not succeed and we doused, rounded the mark and tried to reset and make the channel while Bob went high. Realizing too late high was the way to go, we had a nice ride in holding the chute most of the time and then fended off TGI on the North Island side. Having Dan as crew was a huge learning experience for me, especially in the variable conditions we faced. After a collision with a big keel boat who was not interested in making any allowances for me (even though I was on port, windward and passing) I tought him a lesson by hitting him not only with my port side hull, but my boom as well when we had to gybe away while he was pushing us up (literally pushing us like a pilot boat into sailing by the lee).

We vacated his vicinity (I think he went on to make TGI's like miserable) and headed down the island side, still fending off TGI.

It was on the beat back up the bay that the wheels fell off. We could not only not point, but on port we could not keep any boat speed either and in no time we had lost our lead on TGI, Kitty and Taz and soon Freebee was also crossing in front of us. With tiredness and frustration setting in, we had to work extra hard to find the conditions to get Freebee and Taz relled back in. By the north end of the island we had them both back by staying in the puffs and out of the flooding channel near the hangars. Then it was a drag race to the finish with Taz getting us at the last few boat lenghts with a random puff in extremely flukely winds. Great job guys!

The party afterward was also great- thanks a ton to all the organizers.... It was also great to meet former Floss (or White Trash) owner Rob Waterman as well.

Cheers and watch out next year!!!!

Mike Jue – Team Taz, US 5687, Classic Div.

Marc and I had been anxiously waiting for this day for many months as we had inner demons left over from last year. We talked strategy on the way out as we casually played cat and mouse with The Kitty on our way out the channel. Goal #1: Stay out of the kelp beds this year. Goal #2: Keep the boat upright. Goal #3: limit amount of blood in the boat.

At the start, a miraculously timed 360 and a stroke of good luck we started in the front row. Of course, we didn’t have quite as much boat speed as Rob and Ed who squirted out from under us just after the start. Our smiles really disappeared when a white boat way out in front filled her sails and camped on us. By the time we could safely tack away we were ducking everybody. Ok let’s settle back into our game plan and stay high and get outside. Goal #1 accomplished. We stayed out of the kelp beds. Unfortunately for us, everybody else went lower, avoided them too, and passed us. Last place again.

At buoy #3, we watched Freebee and Carte Blanche round ahead of us. They went low. We went high in anticipation of the stronger breeze under Pt. Loma. Three times the gusty winds under The Point tried to knock us over. Strong winds for San Diego. Goal #2 accomplished; we stayed upright. By the time we were over North Island, we had passed C.B. and Freebee.

Going down the Bay, we went left and tried to stay in the flood current. Did some wire running for a bit, but we eventually noticed that Roger and Mike were catching up by staying right and sailing the shorter distance. One bad gybe that ended in the 2nd kite I tore in 3 days allowed Freebee to pass us. “No worries.” I said to Marc, “Use the pole as a whisker pole and get that jib out there.” Amazingly, we kept up with Freebee for the remaining few hundred yards to the bridge. (Thanks Ben for practicing that one with me on Thursday.)

Going up wind, Freebee went to the city side while we went to the Coronado side. We had fun short tacking up the left and threading our way through the Schock 35s motoring up from S. Bay. I think we even made it onto some tourists’ vacation pics when we tacked within 6’ of the loading door on the ferry. What a blast! We even managed to pass Roger and were gaining on White Floss Mental Trash. Soon we even passed WFMT while Geoff and Dan were apparently sleeping. Unfortunately, they woke up and went left while we stayed to the right. Rule #1: Cover your competition. By the time we made it over to the left, Geoff and Dan had passed us.

Now it was a nail-biter to the finish as we rounded North Island. The dying winds were not helping and it seemed like we would never be able to catch Geoff and Dan. But one little puff and one shift 2 lengths from the finish mark allowed us to squeak by and round in 6th place. Amazingly, after 25 miles only 20 seconds separated us. Freebee was soon to follow only 2 minutes behind.

What a great day of sailing!

Special thanks to Bill McKinney, Anita, Noelle, Trish, Alane, and Kevin for making it all happen.

Bay to Bay 2002

A Weasel’s Eye View

The sail to the start line set many of the themes of the day. During the beat out the channel Weasel was noticeably slower than the boats around us, and the only reasonable explanation was that the gallon of water and 14 cans of beer we were hauling around were slowing us down. In retrospect it’s possible that our inability to handle the boat well while also consuming the first pair of beers could have slowed us down as well, but at the time that explanation was deemed completely unreasonable. So we resolved to drink as much beer and water as possible before the start, and continue after the start whenever possible. Then we would only have to worry about the logistics of periodically draining the ballast over the side.

As we approached the starting area, we also began to notice how shifty the wind was. Since we actually managed to get to the start area half an hour early, we were able to watch the wind direction as it oscillated through 20 or so degrees. As the wind shifted, the angle to the edge of the kelp bed alternated between an easy tight reach and a tedious beat reminiscent of last year’s race. Huge shifts would plague us several times during the day.

Some points from previous races were discussed as well. Since John Henke and Chris Shand had caught up so much by sailing inside the kelp last year, we had to check that out. But we decided that the risks of light wind and drifting kelp were too great on the inside and instead chose the outside route. Also, with the sound of crunching gel coat still fresh in both our memories, Dan and I agreed that a conservative start well away from the sharp edges of the starting boat, and even a few feet away from other 505’s, was a completely acceptable outcome.

As it happened, we did grab the weather position at the gun, although a good half-boat length back from the line itself. As I looked forward I could see the 88th Planet a little to leeward, shooting out with great speed, and Carte Blanche about 5 lengths straight ahead of the Planet. Nice start Dave.

It never fails that the attempt to get around the kelp bed is the most frustrating part of this race. We sailed a course slightly low of close hauled toward what we believed to be the corner, all the time keeping a close eye on the Planet to leeward. Gradually we pulled ahead of Planet, but also realized that the kelp bed was, once again, further offshore than we’d figured.

Sheeted in, sailed as close to the patties as we dared, and tacked out. Repeated the process a couple more times and finally spotted what looked like a channel we could sail through to cut the corner.

Made it through the channel without picking up any kelp, although the centerboard popped up a few times, and jib reached down the coast on the pre-arranged compass course. Mood onboard definitely relaxed a few notches at this point, but a little anxious while waiting for a chance to set the chute. Sailed on southward toward the pre-arranged shore bearing where we would bear off toward #3.

But the fact is that we just got tired of waiting. When we were pretty close to the turning point a big lift came in and we set the chute, bore off to keep it full, and never had to douse. There were a few times when we had to strap the sheet in quite a bit to make it around the next kelpy finger, but even bearing off in the occasional puff we were able to fly the chute all the way to #3.

It is a huge relief that after sailing this course three years in a row, Dan and I are fairly easily able to find bouy #3 from a distance, even though we don’t have the latest electronic navigational gear.

Rounded #3 in first place, three minutes ahead of 88th Planet after 1hr 15min of sailing. Kept spinnaker up long enough to realize we couldn’t carry, then doused. Steered a course toward #5 to get us into the flooding current, then headed up to be able to cross North Island without tacking.

Since driving is so easy, Dan helmed from the wire for a few minutes while I pulled a couple of beers from under the foredeck. Unfortunately when he bore off to miss some kelp he forgot to warn his crew who immediately dropped into the water causing the tiller to spontaneously be pulled further to weather, which then caused the boat to gybe. For a few exciting moments we were headed back out the bay with Dan hanging from the wire on the leeward side, tiller still firmly in hand. With the centerboard completely out of the water I was able to determine that we had, in fact, missed the piece of kelp that had precipitated this weird chain of events. Fortunately there wasn’t much wind at the time. We were able to flatten the boat out, get Dan back on board, turn around, and continue the race with only a pair of mildly bruised egos.

As we sailed over the top of North Island, we actually set and doused the spinnaker twice before being able to carry it on down the bay. Both times the wind seemed to be far enough aft, but a few minutes later it would clock ahead and we’d have to douse. The second time this happened was the most exciting since the header was accompanied by a big gust. Suddenly we were on a full plane headed straight toward the beach even with the chute completely strapped. Looking up at the nasty bend in the mast then down at the fast approaching shore, I decided not to wait for the lull and actually managed to pull off a douse from the weather rail. It wasn’t pretty, but at least nothing broke and the boat didn’t fill up with water.

Wind shifted aft as we sailed over North Island. By the third set, all opportunities of planing were past. Sat down on opposite tanks, drank a couple more beers as we sailed out into the flooding current, waiting to hit the gybe angle to the Bridge.

Looking back, the Planet held to the North Island shore much longer, maybe trying to sail the shorter distance. They finally gybed out into the current, then gybed back toward the bridge. Weasel stayed mid-channel on starboard tack until the douse at pillar 19. Rounded 2hrs 30 min after the start (I think), still 3 minutes ahead of Planet.

On the way back toward Shelter Island, we worked the shifts up the City side of the channel, now trying to stay out of the current as much as possible. Planet went over toward Coronado a couple times, which made us a little nervous, but didn’t seem to get any closer. Once we got near Harbor Island we tacked over to North Island, our old friend, and tried to work the shifts over there. It is interesting to see in Steve’s GPS track that there is a persistent shift to the left as you go up the channel. The lift definitely tempts you to keep sailing toward the right because you think it’s going to oscillate back, but we fought the temptation and tacked back to the inside of the shift on the left side.

Eventually we hit the same weirdness that everyone else would experience as we approached the finish. Managed to force a big powerboat to sail around us as we resolutely sailed across the channel on a big left shift.

Finally crossed the line to beat the previous record by 25 minutes. Woo woo! In a good wind there is easily another 45 minutes that can come off the record.

The beach party was great. Terrific food and beverages. Thanks Bill McKinney, Anita, Trish, Noelle, and Alane for putting it all together.

Thanks also to John Henke for letting us keep the boats in the Sailing Supply parking lot over night once again!

Bill Jenkins