The Three Bridge Fiasco, the first race on the boat!
I’ve heard a lot of stories about the 3bf, and I’ve always wanted to get invited (it’s a single or double-handed only race), but now that I have my own boat I finally got my chance. I’ve heard it can be a sloooowwwwwww race, and if you’re lucky you can even finish. But this year was different.
The Race. Start at Golden Gate Yacht Club up along the SF cityfront. “Round” all three bridges: Blackaller buoy, Red Rock, and Treasure Island. You can round the marks in any order, any direction. And you can START in either direction. There was a max flood right at our start time of 9:29, so we decided to hoist the chute at the start and ride the flood straight to red rock.
About a third of the fleet came this way, the others went straight to Treasure Island. We carried until raccoon strait and then doused. We were chased by a few moores on the way to red rock, and we were the 4th boat to round it. And this is where the first problem started. When we doused, we left all lines attached to the chute and planned on hoisting from the companionway hatch. Gabriel helped the chute out of the hatch, but I kept getting overrides on the guy…I couldn’t get it back all the way. And by this time the wind was picking up and filling up the sail. We decided to hoist and deal with it later. What happened is when we doused the first time, the guy came out of the block holding it down. Now were were getting constant overrides and no way to get the guy back. Gabriel put the bitter end of the guy through the block then around the primary winch. When we took it off the secondary, too much slack let off and we were knocked down. Around this time we also realized we had one of the sheets trailing behind us and stuck around the rudder. This actually saved the day, because when we had to douse, it was the only thing holding the chute down. So we dropped the halyard and Gabriel had a hell of a time pulling it back into the boat. We decided that since we were doing 7 kts under white sails, we’d just prepare the chute but sit back, assess the situation and have a sandwich.
By the time we got to TI, a bunch of boats had caught up to us, but the wind did too. It was blowing low 20s, gusting to 30 by the time we got around. When we started heading back to Blackaller we were in a strong ebb, strong wind, and big waves. It was a bumpy ride up to the last mark and then just a few minutes later we were crossing the finish line. I was expecting to sail home in the dark, but we were opening the first beer of the day at 2:30, on the way back to Berkeley. I couldn’t have asked for a better first race. What a blast! By the end of the day, one boat was de-masted, and another sunk after colliding with a tug.