• DH Farallones Moore Fun In A Moore

    Karl Robrock writes a very poignant piece on the DH Farallones which he sail upon his Moore 24 SNAFU with fellow Moore-Man Bart Hackworth

    DHF 2020 monohull 1st place, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th occupy the RYC basin on Friday afternoon while preparing. Go RYC!

    2020 DHF /September 23, 2020
    This was the year the Moore fleet was going to resume rounding the islands as part of the Roadmasters series. It has been a decade. The DHF, normally in March, was the first race casualty of 2020 pandemic, and the rescheduled September timing was tough, preceded by a month of the worst fire season in recorded history. The 47 boats, among which 4 Moores, were not going to let smoke and disease stop them. If anything was going to stop them it would have to be wind & current - the normal obstacles we battle.

    The fleet had been working up to this with the Double Handed Lightship race last year, so the Moore's that showed: Puffin, Topper II, Snafu and Oxymoron were already set up with all the required safety equipment. It’s a manageable effort the day before the race to switch from buoy to offshore mode, and a social scene I’ve come to love.

    Current going out to Farallones

    Current coming back in

    An unusually early 8am start - from Baker Beach! - was designed to help folks get out before the flood built too much. It almost worked. Clear air had breathed life back into the bay area a couple of days before the race, and a mid-seventees weekend unfolded. Everyone seemed stoked to be there.

    Arriving at the starting area, Bart and I we were hemming and hawing over the sail plan. The forecasts we had seen were all over the map, from 3 to 11 knots at the start, making advanced planning difficult. What was known in advance was the current. And it was no joke this time!

    We ended up starting with the #1 in about 5-7 knots of breeze, and chose the pin end, which was way up current, so we easily port tacked the fleet. The plan was to get out of the flood at Baker beach and into the remaining ebb, or slack in the middle of the straits. That was kinda right, except going north at that time was on a huge header, and the folks on starboard tack did better. We lost most of the fleet doing that, and eventually were trailing everyone that was headed north towards Bonita, including those that started after us. All Moores had dusted us completely. Oops.

    It's pretty common for folks to want to exit the straits at Bonita, and may even take a hitch north shortly outside of Bonita because they want to be on the inside of the right-hand shift that occurs from the wind funneling into the bay, from the prevailing northwesterly, becoming westerly. Once you're past that shift, it's usually pretty straight sailing to the islands other than the breeze building. The risk is that it can be really tough to call the lay line from 25 miles away, so it's easy to be overstood. The current situation at Bonita was ugly though, and with light breeze, I could not for the life of me figure out what people were thinking. We opted to turn left and exit the straits slightly south of the middle. And just GET OUT before that flood builds any more. The credible forecasts also kinda showed the wind turning northerly later on, so we knew we'd get lifted. We sailed out, and watched the mayhem ensue. There was a huge hole on the east side of Bonita. It seemed like the entire DHF fleet was going backwards. Flushed. A third of the boats starting would never make it out the gate.

    We were just in awe as we watched everyone get smaller and smaller. Way back there we could tell that Conrad and a couple of others had made it out. We had a massive lead. At first it looked rough. We were 10 degrees low of the islands, in 7-8 knots of breeze. We had sagged about a mile south of the rumb line. It lifted rather abruptly some 20 degrees, so we followed it up until we got back to the rumb line and decided to crack off. The breeze teased with 9 knots, maybe 10, and then stepped quickly up to 14. Time to shift down to the 3. A couple of large boats rolled us and Andy Hamilton & Simon were on our heels in the Donovan 30.

    As we approached the islands the wind kept going further aft that for a moment I regretted not brining the Jib Top; I was worried we wouldn't be able to carry the kite on the way home. I was ready to put up the A5 above the islands, but the sage Bart curbed the enthusiasm as we monitored the depthsounder and looked for the edge of the northwestern seamount evident in the wave action.

    Anyone who has sailed a doublehanded boat rigged for both symmetricals and asymmetricals at the same time knows it's kinda of a spaghetti factory. What’s on top of what, what’s inside of what, what’s around what. Add lifelines into he mix and Moore sailors are fully thrown off. We beared away and garbage-set the A5 that had been set up on starboard, and it miraculously went up clean. We gybed around the back side of the island and set a course home. The rounding is astonishingly quick compared to the 6 hour trip there.

    The A5 was the. perfect. sail. Andy and Simon on the Donovan hoisted a Jib Top and it the wind was just a little too far aft and light for that sail plan. We slowly inched away from them. The long, long reach was champagne sailing and went by in a hurry and we hardly enjoyed it enough. It was a little on the edge at times, we did collapse and slap the A5 full a number of times, perhaps trying to keep it a little unnecessarily high. I think next time we’d actually consider a reefed main as is common to do with asyms. I don't think we ever saw more than 17 kt gusts.

    Hard not smile with a post-race beer and sunset cruise home

    As we passed the lightship we flipped on channel 13. A container coming from the south ship busted a rather aggressive 90 degree turn to calm the seas, picked up a pilot on the leeward side, and started motoring towards the channel we were entering. While a ship was also exiting. We had to make the call whether to peel north of the channel, thread the needle, or stay south. We made a sharp turn to the south and the ship rolled over the top of us. We took the opportunity to shift to the symmetrical. When the breeze came back, the Donovan had put up their kite, separated way to the north and was charging. We deliberated. Dave Hodges and serial badass John Kernot were ahead of us on the Farr 37, and clearly was going the southern route. We glanced at the current charts, but really had not studied them adequately or thought it through, and while trying to sail, critical thinking seems to be diminished. We committed to the south.

    It was brutal. I knew exactly what Andy was doing. We've done it so many times before. I had never tried to take the southern entrance in an ebb, but the appeal of going inside mile rock being allowed this year was tempting. Never. again. We watched as Andy went hot to the shore, gybed twice in the relief outside Bonita, and rocketed in along the north shore. They passed under the GG bridge as we arrived to mile rock.

    We then fought and fought against insane current inside mile rock, as we could see Conrad rolling in towards Bonita. The wind even turned from the south and we were reaching on starboard for a while. When Conrad was trying to get through Bonita alongside a Soverel 33, it apparently seemed too light on the inside and they both chose to cross the straits. Whew!

    We finally got into the countercurrent at Baker beach and stopped looking behind us and instead got distracted by the naked beachgoers. The ebb at the bridge was unlike anything I've ever seen, I would have guessed 5 knots+ locally at the south tower. We pointed in the current under a loaded kite, and crabbed our way North making zero progress. We jibed, hotted up and made it through. The wind, predictably, built in the bay and we had the fastest run all day on the way to the finish.

    We estimate that wrong choice cost us 45 minutes. I heard stories from the Express fleet of similar leads squandered from entering on the south side rather than the north. In retrospect, looking at the current maps it is pretty clear that the north shore in this stage of ebb involves less time going directly into the current, and north had hotter sailing angles on the breeze vs aiming south. The uncharacteristically light winds and uncharacteristically strong currents made the difference enormous. We finished 8 minutes behind the venerable Carbon Antrim 27 ‘io on corrected time, getting us a first in our class and 2nd monohull. Overall this year went to the multi’s, who finished 3.5 hours before us at slack tide.

    What's great about this race is that there's so much strategy, and so much room for learning. It is also a race that Moores were accidentally optimized for - light air upwind starts and catching waves on the way home. Reaching sails and asymmetrical kites only close that performance gap in reaching conditions vs the purely asymmetrical ULDBs. And they’re fun.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Better Late Than Never: The 2020 BAMA DH Farallones started by Photoboy View original post