Three Bridge Fiasco lives up to name
Published on January 28th, 2018
The 2018 Three Bridge Fiasco on January 28 lived up to its name, with a number of adjectives that can be tossed for good measure, such as chaos, anchoring, ripping ebb, light air and determination. This was classic winter sailing on San Francisco Bay.
For many, it was the impromptu voyage out the Gate when the currents overwhelmed hull speed after rounding Blackaller and attempting to cross the river. For others, it was a day of setting the hook and waiting. Either for stronger wind of less current. Or both.
But the one thing this edition will be remembered for is the extremely small percentage of finishers, just four boats out of the 359 registered singlehanded and doublehanded teams managed to get around the course before the 7:00 PM witching hour bell struck.
The 21.67 nm course is defined by the Golden Gate, Richmond, and Bay Bridges, with adjacent marks that the fleet must round, but in any order and direction.
Finishing first was John Gray and Matt Van Rensselaer on the Moore 24 Immoral, a heroic performance on a boat that had been found languishing in a boat yard. Along with Sean Kelly, the three former classmates from the California Maritime Academy made the purchase, and with a 3 month leave of absence, the trio brought her back to bristol condition and have campaigned her ever since.
The counterclockwise course was predestined for the winners, finding enough wind to clear the starting line and made tracks for the west edge of Treasure Island, where they found a nice counter current allowing them to make progress upstream until just under the bridge where the wind died and the current was relentless.
There they played the puffs, advancing the anchor when possible then holding till the next round. “We set the hook 3 times and moved maybe 50′ in between each set,” they indicated.
A miracle, short term switch in wind direction allowed the duo to escape the Yerba Buena wind hole and work their way back up the east side with kite pulling them all the way to the north end of Treasure Island.
The wind would subside, then refill and allow them to work their way up to Red Rock in a NW wind which they rounded about 3:00 PM, set the kite and rode her back to Raccoon Strait. “The wind backed off there, but we were able to ride the current to Pt Stuart and then found some westerly, enough to make progress against the building flood to Blackaller where the wind switched south and eased.” The managed to finish in daylight at 17:25:30.
Source: Erik Simonson