• 2018 OYRA Duxship: Cookies Lost, Carnage and White Knuckle Entertainment


    Velvet Hammer Blastin down the Golden Gate Strait


    It's not often that the weather wonks get it so wrong, but the forecast for Saturday May 12th was a big exception.

    The mainstream news casts insisted on gale force offshore wind Friday night in to Saturday then transitioning into a slight southerly flow
    with fog beginning to work its way into the area late in afternoon. From previous similar forecasts crews mya have expect a light spinnaker
    run out the gate from the start before riding the ebb through a transition zone, switching to headsails, up to Duxbury Reef, a reach or possibly run
    to the Entrance Buoy followed by a runs back into the gate.

    However, conditions had changed in the early morning hours, and a strong south westerly had already started working its way up the coast and the
    starting area off the Golden Gate Yacht Club was already seeing winds into the 20 knot range for the 10:00 start of the 31.8 nm trip. As sailmaker John Amen, who was sailing
    aboard Warren Holybee's Morgan 382 Eliana as a practice for the Pacific Cup, pointed out "Things got snotty really quickly". Mal de mer, was common throughout the
    fleet, even for many of the veteran sailors. "There was a low off the SoCal area that was pumping up a southerly swell of 6'-8' every 10-12 seconds that was mashing with the primary
    NW swell and tossing boats around with abandon
    " John added. And surprisingly, the northwest winds were still blowing north of Bonita, and did not switch to the new wsw direction until
    the boats got to Duxbury, meaning they got an uphill ride in two direction.




    Michael Moradzadeh of the SC 52 Oaxaca provides this summation of the day:


    "Uncertain weather forecasts tossed in the trash can as a strong system swept the race course. So we all put on our big boy pants, hooked up the smaller sails, and headed out. Upwind both ways, with a lot of bumpy water that tended to slow boats down. Nice for heavier boats."

    "Adverse current in both directions made the race a bit longer, of course, and placed a bit of a premium on finding current relief.
    The weather made clear that the Safety Equipment Requirements were a good idea, by and large. Jacklines, proper PFDs and the like added to the ability to maintain a proper set of safety behaviors on the course."

    "So, for our race, we were a bit late to the start, as one of our jib cars took a vacation in the count-down, and we had to re-set. A few other gear cobwebs needed to be blown out, with additional performance hits, most notably an outhaul that would not haul all the way out!. We had a great first leg, reeling in most of the boats we had let start ahead of us. Second leg was hard to maintain optimal VMG course, and we had to throw in a double tack, as did Hana Ho at the Light Bucket."

    Kites?

    "Debates about when to set were rife. Hana Ho set early and was clearly struggling with it with a big-shouldered kite. We held back a bit, biting our tongues while we waited for the right angle and they pulled away. THen we set the A3 and slowly started to gain back on them. Hana made a smart move, running over to the Headlands for current relief. We stayed south and got lucky with only a minor current knock. We started to reel in Blue as well."

    "Our Waterloo came at the south tower. We had to gybe to clear it, and we simply bungled it, trapping a crewman's hand between winch handle and snagged runner. I turned up hard to try to relieve pressure, but wrapped kite made that unworkable. We gave up a bunch of time, allowing several boats to run past us."

    "Well, the weather was great kite weather on the last run. Surfing at regular 20kts on the heavy wave action. That part was swell.
    Finished under plain sails. Made a punch list to fix before spin cup.
    Chicken and beer at the dock...."


    Michael Moradzadeh,
    Oaxaca

    *************

    From Will Paxton aboard Velvet Hammer:

    "We had a great start but had to give way to a large whale just afterwards which was on starboard. A lot of whales spotted Saturday. Made it to Duxbury in 1st but then encountered a strange transition zone as the south wind met the northeasterly, and ended up bobbing for a while while a number of boats caught up. A restart at Duxbury and a gnarly beat to the entrance buoy . We had a reef in and set the shykite (A-7) with Can't Touch This and Condor in close proximity.

    The beauty of the A-7 is it keeps our boy up much more than the larger kites, less submerging is faster. We seldom get to use it as it is for 25 knots plus, but the more we get to use it, the more we like it.

    Sailing Tactics was pretty spot on with their morning forecast, even showing the wind shear just outside the gate, where we gad some strong gusts. But nothing like we saw inside the the Bay. It was tough to hold the line to the finish and rounded up and flogged for a minute or so near Anita Rock before gaining control and finishing. The ride back to Richmond was something for the ages with breeze 30-32 and gusts in the 40 knot range. Event with the A-7 we went completely submerged on several occasions. It's a day people will be telling their grandkids about for some time. Kudos to crew who performed beautifully all day in marginal conditions."






    Velvet Hammer crosses ahead of Can't Touch This above


    Rich Pipkin J-125
    Can't Touch This:

    On Bringing Trevor Baylis on: "We had noticed that we were just not getting the J-125 up to her potential, and Trevor is the known go to guy here in Northern California. He has had remarkable success on several J-125's including this boat when she was Double Trouble. Trevor gave us some training when we 1st acquired the boat from Andy Costello, and we checked his availability this spring and summer, and as luck would have it, he was available for several events including the PAC Cup!


    On Saturday: The forecast was all over the map most of last week, and did not really know what to expect, but when we had in wind in the Estuary Saturday morning things looked up!

    Our uphill ride to Duxbury was unremarkable, however as we approached the mark, we noticed that VH had sailed into a nice glassy patch, so we were able to reel them in, so to speak, but they would take that all back on the downhill leg. We flew 3.0 kite, but in retrospect, could have used the 2.5, it would have kept the bow out of the water a bit more.

    We were expecting relief once inside the bay, but that did not happen, we could not lay the mark with the kite up and had to finish with just the main up after a nice flogging incident! We had boatspeed of 18-21 knots, a great E-ticket ride all afternoon!






    CTT and Condor do some submarining




    But once boats got a round the Entrance Buoy, things got real interesting, with winds now in the 20's the boats with crews not entirely seasick and gear strong enough to take a beating, launched their kites and started making quick work of the waters through the shipping channel and into the Golden Gate Strait. With ebb still flowing center channel, the edges were the preferred places to be,but handling kites in big breeze can be a concern, so leaving room for roundups, round downs and whale avoidance also cam into play. Leading the pack back to bay, was Zachary Anderson and Will Paxton's canter, the modified Shock 40' Velvet Hammer taking some wide angles, sailing near Mile Rock on one tack then gybing hard but very much controlled, and racing back to the north side, and crossing just in front of Rich Pipkins and Mary McGraths J-125 Cant Touch This. Bothe boats at times nearly disappearing from sight as the sumarined into swells they were over running, complet firehose conditions one might compare to the Volvo Boat might encounter.



    More often than not, the winds mellow out in the Golden Gate Strait, but this was not the case today. Still in the 20's with higher gusts greeted the boats with The South Tower Demon Lurking ahead....




    Looking good then not so much... Hanna Ho, Blue and Mr Magoo



















    Inside the gate, the compressed winds were now hitting the 30's, and the Demon's reach extended well beyond it's usual length, many boats finding themself on their ears just after reaching the relative safety of the bay, and the direct line to the finish awash in a solid line of howling wind. And for those lucky enough to keep their boats in say Richmond... The conditions in the slot, just damn terrifying...

    To be continued....

    RESULTS

    The begginings of aGallery HERE!!!

    (Sorry, mommas day workload big today )



    *************************



    And Some Drama:



    This long post is focused on my ocean racing friends. It is an email I felt compelled to send to two competitors in yesterday's Duxbury Lightship race. I'm sharing it with you to remind you what the RC does, is obligated to do and how you can make the process easier:

    Hello,

    My name is Jeff Zarwell. I was the PRO (Principal Race Officer) for the Duxship race.

    I would like to take a moment to share with both of you what the responsibilities are for not only me, but the entire race committee when managing a regatta, whether it is an event held entirely inside the bay or out in the open ocean.

    From the moment you show up in the starting area until you cross the finish line I am morally, ethically and to a great extent legally responsible for your safety. To a lesser extent, my entire race committee is bound as well. Before the race even begins it is MY responsibility alone to determine if it is safe to even proceed with the event.

    Beginning the Wednesday before, I am checking three different professional, subscription based weather websites. Additionally, I’m also looking at several NOAA sites for wave information and the base weather data from which the previously mentioned weather sites receive their data to use in their weather models.

    On the day of the event, I am up at 5:30 in the morning taking a final look at all the weather sites mentioned above and review what has transpired the last three days, as well as what is forecast for the day.

    At this point I have put in a full 8-hours of my time preparing for your safety and the event has not even begun.

    At the beginning of the race I deploy three separate two-person teams to different areas of the race deck to spot and record EVERY sail number that crosses that start line and the time at which they do so (even when over 30 minutes late), so that we have EVERYONE accounted for. We also take note of boats that start outside the designated start line, because WE DON’T KNOW IF YOU DID THAT INTENTIONALLY OR NOT.

    For the duration of the event we are constantly in contact with the Coast Guard, advising them of the status of our competitors (those that have AIS transmitters on their boats), what we are seeing in the way of wind and sea-state, based on what we can see with our eyes, on the various websites and later in the race from competitors who have finished.

    I cannot comment on what other PROs do, or how concerned they may or may not be about your safety, but I go to great lengths to ensure your safety as best I can. To a great extent I am your lifeline.

    Now that you know what my commitment is to your safety, imagine what is going through my head when you are more than 4 hours later than ALL the other boats in your division and I cannot make contact with you by radio. At this point, I have no choice but to advise the CG and the YRA that you are unaccounted for. I provide the CG with details of your boat(s) including sail number, they then advise all commercial traffic to be on watch for you. The CG is also gearing up their search and rescue teams so that they are ready for deployment if necessary. I am calling the harbormaster at the marina you keep your boat in to see if you have returned. And yesterday, knowing one of you just purchased your boat recently, I called the previous owner of the boat who was racing also, to see if he had heard from you. MORALLY I CANNOT AND WILL NOT EVER LEAVE MY POST UNTIL I HAVE YOU ACCOUNTED FOR, REGARDLESS OF STATED TIME LIMITS FOR THE RACE.

    All you had to do yesterday was to call me on the radio and let me know you had decided to retire or that you weren’t actually going to race and started outside the start line intentionally. That was all you had to do. By not being courteous enough (let alone not following the rules) you set in motion all that I mentioned above needlessly. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you or maybe you’re not concerned with your safety, but we are.

    What if there was another boat that really was in trouble. Would we have been able to respond in time, when we’re preparing for the worst with you because we haven’t heard from you? How would you feel knowing if someone else had died out there because we committed rescue assets to you, thereby preventing us from responding to them in time?

    If you are not going to RACE, but just sail the course, starting outside the starting line is great, but as a courtesy to me and the rest of the race committee you should advise me of your intentions. Understand too, that if you’re not going to race, but still sail the course I am still going to watch out for your safety and you should still be checking in with me.

    I have been managing ocean races for the YRA since 1994. In that time I have had the misfortune of having tragic deaths occur on two different ocean races. I do not make assumptions that you are probably okay. If you are unaccounted for I begin the search process immediately, period.

    To refresh your memories:

    The sailing instructions require you to monitor the assigned VHF channel during the race.

    The FCC requires by law if you have a VHF radio on your boat, that you MUST monitor channel 16 at all times.

    The sailing instructions require you to notify the race committee at the time you retire, not after you have put your boat back in her slip hours later.

    Common courtesy would make these three “requirements” unnecessary, but courtesy was not extended yesterday.

    If you’re sensing that I am mad, you are very correct. These are not fun sails on the local pond, this is open ocean racing. Forget the pond, the dynamics of the open ocean are ten times greater than the energy inside the bay. As much research as I do, I still cannot predict a rogue wave or other conditions not accounted for in the weather models, yet I am still responsible for your safety. THE VERY LEAST YOU CAN DO IS KEEP THE RACE COMMITTEE INFORMED OF YOUR ACTIONS IN A TIMELY MANNER.

    I hope I have successfully communicated my concerns. You may think I’ve gone a little overboard, but remember I’m looking out for YOUR safety. Work with me, please.

    Regards,

    Jeff Zarwell
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2018 OYRA Duxship started by Photoboy View original post