When Everyone Comes Away With a Prize
Published on July 13th, 2016
by Paul Heineken
The 37th episode of the St Francis Yacht Club’s San Francisco Bay Classic on June 10 would maintain the event’s status as the oldest continuously running long distance sailboard race in the world. That’s right… in the world.
Progress has allowed kite racers to be included for the last decade or so, and now all of them are up on foils, often exceeding 35 knots. There was even a foiling windsurfer. Progress indeed!
And this is no staid windward-leeward event. Those are a dime a dozen. The SF Classic is a 22 mile race course that goes outside the Golden Gate Bridge twice, and then crosses the Bay 10 more times. It begins in the shadow of Crissy Field to the west and ends off Berkeley Pier to the east.
Out under the Golden Gate Bridge, a pod of humpback whales cavorted in the middle of the course. In washing machine chop, sailors wove their way through the whales, wondering if one might lift them even higher out of the water than their foil. Scads of humpbacks have been in the Bay all week.
But the weather was just too fine. The hills heated up and shut off the wind on the north and east sides of the Bay. At Harding Rock to the northwest of Alcatraz Island, all the kites fell from the sky, leading to a very large kite yard sale.
Meanwhile, the windsurfers saw their opportunity to return to their past glory by beating the kites, so on they pumped. However, even that was not to be. The two hour time limit expired with the lead windsurfer in sight of the finish line, about a half mile out.
So this year there were no winners or losers, and maybe that’s occasionally a good thing. Racing is really about generating new stories, and in this abandoned race, everyone came away with a prize.