• Wetspot Report And Other Tales

    2017 Delta Ditch Run as seen by the lead Moore 24

    We raced with two this year for the first time. This decision was difficult for both of us as it meant excluding Denis Mulligan. But he weighs about 180 pounds plus gear and beer and the wining boats for the last several years have all double handed. We have been second many times but had not won this race yet after years of trying.

    The weather predictions showed a lot of north at the start and predictions were accurate. We started with the #1. The gun went off and I looked up and down the line and knew we had a good start as. The pin boat came over the VHF telling the RC boat that #66 (Immoral) was over early at the RC boat’s end. Kersey Clausen, the PRO, came back with “Looked like a very good start to me” or works to that effect. Which I understood to mean Immoral pushed the line and got away with it and nobody was getting called back. Off we go to Stockton.

    Wet Spot stayed to the south as we entered in San Pablo Bay, much of the fleet stayed a little further to the north, but I did not see the advantage to sailing the extra distance as the flood was still early and there seemed to be plenty of current sailing a direct line for Point Pinole.

    Our speed with the other double handed Moores looked good. John Verdoia and I were thinking that going with just the two of us this year might pay off. We were fairly light with John at 155 and me at 170. Winds were predicted to stay under 16 knots. We had doublehanded Wet Spot a lot since I purchased her in 1980, but not much recently. The issue was: Could two 60+ year olds keep it together all the way to Stockton? We had some practice as this as we have been racing the Ditch Run in Wet Spot since it started. We had many trips up River together. It all started in the sea scout sailing whaleboats when we were in high school.

    We set the kite soon after entering San Pablo and reached on a port gybe sailing a straight line from the Brothers and the fishing pier at Pt. Pinole. We were able to bare off to a run after Pt Pinole. We continued to stay right, sailing a straight line to avoid the extra distance. Pegasus and Gruntled stayed more towards the middle but even with us. Much of the fleet were staying just to the south of the Pinole Shoal channel, all sailing a longer distance with no apparent speed advantage that I could see.

    As we started to line up for Carquinez Straights, we gybed onto starboard, and stayed to the south of the center span of the bridge. All the other Moores and all but a few of the racing fleet went to the north. I had spent many summer days at C&H docks during my 21 year career with Matson, attending to the needs of the Moku Pahu, the ex-Hawaiian sugar ship. I had some ideas of the typical winds in the area. The wind seemed about equal strength on either side and the south side was the shorter distance and the current was about the same. We continued to stay south as we passed the sugar docks, hoping to get the puffs sooner than Gruntled, Pegasus and Great White Trash, who were all even and to the north. This worked and as we passed Port Costa, Gruntled moved to the south and astern of us, possibly looking for the same thing.

    We all got a starboard gybe header approaching Benicia and Moores below us had trouble getting over the point as they ragged their kites and we moved up a little. We freed off at Benicia and headed for the Shell Martinez dock with Pegasus and Gruntled staying closer to the Benicia side. We were still on a stbd gybe, with Great White Trash on our leeward hip and we could not gybe away as we approached the Martinez side. White Trash finally gybed away, allowing us to gybe but they had forced to enter Suisun Bay through the lift bridge channel and had to confront the wind shadows of the bridge caissons. We both came out from under the bridges about even. Wet Spot continued to keep to the right side of the channel and it was paying off. Gruntled and Pegasus were a little further back at this point and Pegasus, with three aboard, were starting to slow down and we were now the lead Moore.

    We worked our way to the west to have a reasonable offing at Port Chicago, now referred to as MOTCO for those in the know, and watched for the other boats behind to see who passed closer to MOTCO than us. It appeared John Gray in #66 (another professional mariner and fellow CMA grad) got too close and the security guards turned on the siren on his guard truck. Big day at MOTCO. We noted one of the larger boats had found one of the shallow spots on the west side of the deep water channel across from MOTCO. I had planted a sea scout boat on the same spot while sailing with the sea scouts a few years before. I felt this guy’s pain. But I did not have the entire Ditch Run fleet watching me dug in when I did it.

    We worked back to east side of the channel as we approach Pittsburg with the puffs coming off the east shore. We got close enough to the right bank, gybe back to the west, lined up on New York Slough, gybed and started the part of the race where the other boats become a big problem in holding a lead.

    Moores had a slight advantage in saving our time this year by being late in the start queue and the building current. It gave us chance over the earlier starters, but the disadvantage of having to sail through a lot of much bigger boats with big wind shadows. We managed to get though New York Slough clean and started catching up with the mid fleet E-27s. The two lead E-27’s had disappeared from view. We had been watching ahead to see where Motorcycle Irene and Get Happy sailed as a possible indicator of what we should do. But it appeared the two of them were match racing and often their course location did not make much sense for staying ahead of fleet.
    As we approached marker 19, John got the #2 ready and we hoped that it was the right sail as there was not #3 aboard and it was just the two of us. We rounded inside of 4 of the mid fleet E-27s and stayed with them to the Three Mile Slough turn. We stayed well to the right at the turn, set and passed a few more E-27s. Now we were in the middle of the E-27s with explosive speed potential, fully crewed and were well sailed.

    We kept our air clean and continued to open the distance on Great White Trash on each puff. The next decision point was the big right turn and the kite down coming up. We put up the #2, dumped the kite and stayed with the E-27s. As we approached the left turn, Peaches, one of the E-27s, decided to set early. We quickly passed her as their early set did not work so well and she flailed closer to the leeward corner than we wanted to be. We got around the corner, set and we were off with the E-27s again.

    As we got past Tinsley Island, Abigail Morgan was close on our weather hip. Ron Kells kindly let us under his bow, our wind cleared and we took off again. Now the river current overcoming the flood was a concern. Our plan was to stay on the left bank to avoid any river current in the middle. Nobody came up behind on the left back so we were able to keep to our plan until the finish.

    Andy and Jonathan on Great White Trash kept us motivated all the way from Pittsburgh. We were lucking enough not to have them close by were we actually had to maneuver. This might have ended up in a lot of exercise for John and spilt beer for me.
    Great race.

    Michael O'Callaghan
    Moore 24' Wet Spot


    Kurt Lahr brought his daughter Hayden and son Owen on their 1st Ditch run on the family wagon Moore Wave Oh's
    Kurt, the proud father says his son drove like a seasoned pro and Hayden ran the bow with authority!

    Hank Easom took his Sabre Spirit on its 1st Ditch Run. After decades sailing his modified 8 Meter Yucca in Ditch Run
    after Ditch Run, usually to class and sometimes overall corrected victories, Serenade proved herself worthy
    of the task winning DIV 2 Heavy. Also on board was Hank's Nephew Scott and Navigator Christopher Lewis, who Hank said "Really knows his
    stuff and how to read all that electronic gadgetry that just gives me a headache"
    Hank says even though they had the
    fancy stuff, his paper charts have followed him to the new boat and that's where they will stay!

    The Melges 20 Flygfisk on the fly. Skipper Tom Kassberg, Cam McCloskey and Patrick Whitmarsh sailed her to 1st to finish monohull, overall corrected and Division Light 2 victories. Patrick says it was a drag race with Daniel Alvarez's Jetstream and the Viper 640 Venom all the way, and they managed to keep the kite flying most all the way, even through the Antioch Bridge, which gave them a bit of an edge. The three have been sailing Flygfisk together since 2013 and have the boat handling down pretty good, know the path up the river pretty well and that the secret weapon was the depth sounder with a display on the Tacktick display!

    An Express 27' full river drag race, Will Paxton's MotorCycle Irene and Brendan Bush's Get Happy set the pace and beat the peloton of e-27's upriver by 10 minutes and change. A fast but really challenging race this year with lots of heavy puffs and lulls, a lot of extra work for the kite trimmer Will indicates. Lots of lead changes between the two lead boats with Get Happy getting the last break and finding a lane and the 26 second victory in e-27 class! Will opted for the bus back to Richmond Saturday night, and brought the trailer back Sunday. About 3:00 PM a heavy, dark front with thunder and lightning followed shortly thereafter by a menacing hailstorm the dumped 3-5 inches of grape sized hail balls all over the Stockton Sailing Club parking lot!

    Duane Yoslov's Melges 24 Looper scream towards the S-turn and Melges 24 division victory by more than 10 minutes!

    Lawrence Riley's Diva 39, Ex- Indigo making waves to the finish and Heavy Weight Division glory!

    .... more to follow....stay tuned....
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Do the Ditch ! started by PSutchek View original post