• 2018 Great Pumpkin Pursuit: The Big Boats Strike Back

    After 2017ís miracle run in which 3 Cal 20ís and a Yankee Dolphin took the top 4 finishes, 2018 would prove vastly different. With a swoosh of winter storm clouds brushing the San Francisco Bay from a distant storm off of British Columbia, and the North Pacific High budging ever so slightly, a westerly returned to the bay, giving the early starters a gentle 5-8 knots at the Southampton start. The muggy warm weather felt like summerís last gasp before the impending November chill, a fine, fine encore to an action packed season.

    137 monohulls and 20 multis had lined up for the 1st gun at Noon, as a finger of fog, compressed low to the sea surface made itís way in the gate, and much like a sinister creature from a B-rated 1070ís horror movie, began working its way directly towards Alcatraz on parts east. While the winds associated with the intruding arm of Pacific mist increased, the visibility decreased, and soon it had devoured the former penitentiary and adjacent waters, eliminating line of sight navigation for racers as well as ships, fishing vessels ferries and such traversing the area.

    It had seemed from the direction that the high raters had chosen, that counter clockwise was the direction of choice for this year. Most of the fleet heading right off the start and up toward Raccoon Strait to round Angel Island 1st. However, 20 minutes into the reverse order start sequence, the Chevron Tanker Florida Voyager made their presence known as the moseyed north up the shipping channel, essentially eliminating the counter clockwise option for the middle of the fleet.

    The wind in Raccoon Strait was lighter than winds in the slot, but the flood tide was weaker on the edges as the afternoon ebb began to make its presence known. Once at the western edge, boats had to deal with another strong patch of flood that created some havoc before heading into the bay proper. With Alcatraz and SF completely blocked from view, many of the CC boats set a course towards Blackaller to compensate for the flood and into the mystic they went.

    Amazingly, a number of the low raters which had chosen the clockwise direction had emerged from the fog and worked their way to the mouth of Raccoon Strait. But by then, the wind had lessened and the ebb had a large footprint, and those boats which were not ultra lights with waterline or of multiple hulls struggled the most. And while a few of the multis and Zachary Andersonís J-125 Velvet Hammer snuck through, off in the distance, Alan Driscollís D-Cat Beowulf could be seen approaching the finish.

    It would appear the highest rated Cat had snuck around the edges and used the late start winds to pass the entire fleet in a Counter Clockwise fashion. Finish well ahead of the entire fleet at 2:01 PM, Beowulf would enjoy a 8 minute plus cushion over next multiís, Peter Stonebergs Shadow X & Mathew Leitnerís Nacra F18 Double Trouble.
    And then the onslaught of counterclockwise boats would come charging in from south, (where mysteriously, the fog bank had now lifted) led by Buzz Blacketts California Condor, then clockwise Velvet Hammer and back to CC boats Ruben Rocciís J-111 Swift Ness then Tony Pohlís Farr 40 Twisted.

    Another great Great Pumpkin Regatta in the books, the 51ís edition and going strong. A perfect blend of buoy racing, costume party and pursuit race to cap off the summer sailing season. Donít look now, but mid winters start in just a few daysÖ.

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2018 Great Pumpkin Pursuit started by Photoboy View original post