That was a race?

When I bought Double Espresso, I first sailed her off the coast of Santa Cruz then moved to San Francisco Bay. That’s where I did my first sailing race: the Three Bridge Fiasco, so named because there’s often very little wind, which combined with tide currents often end up with lots of racers not finishing. That’s how it went for me: I mostly sailed in place for 8 hours before retiring.

Not making progress!

Drakes Bay Day 1 race

Last weekend, Alex and I were registered for our first race aboard CaB, a pivotal moment maybe. The race to Drakes Bay on Saturday was a 31 NM affair in very light air in a strong flood current. It was very much a replay of my first race. We were doing 2.5 knots of boat speed against 1.5 knots of current, mostly going nowhere. And so around 5 PM we retired and sailed back to the Bay. That’s when things got interesting.

We turned around and it felt like the wind had picked up, probably just an impression. But as we approached the Golden Gate, the wind increased for sure. 8, then 10, then 14, 20 knots as we approached the GG bridge. We held the kite on starboard until we were too far south and doused the sock, gybed it, and hoisted it again, making our way towards the bridge. The wind was continuing to build and I saw 28 knots on my sensor. I was very much sailing deep downwind between 155-170 TWA with the kite well eased forward. We also had small surfs pushing us through. I don’t think that I saw a boat speed greater than 11 knots but CaB felt super-charged and it took all my leftover concentration to keep her steady between the gusts, the surfs, and the rocks that were getting closer.


I was feeling uneasy about being so close to the rocks as a mishap could have turned into big drama. I told Alex to be ready to ease off the spinnaker sheet big time if I called for it. All was well and we passed under the bridge and were making our way past Horseshoe Cove, getting into an area affectionately named hurricane gulch. We were about to know why!

Not us but very much like us 🙂

The wind came down a bit, the swell disappeared (no more surfing) and I was looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the memory of our trip into 28 knots of wind with the A1.5 up. It wasn’t to be: in a fraction of a second we got hit by something (a gust of wind of course) and we were instantly broached. I could see people on the land looking at CaB on her side. I told Alex to ease the kite sheet big time, which he obliged, a testament to his experience (recall CaB is now healed past 40 degrees), then to release the mainsheet. Changabang came back flat, we got steerage way again, trimmed the kite, and were back on track, in less than 45 seconds.

After that, well, it was really time to hit the docks, eat and sleep. What a memorable experience after a long frustrating day!

All in all, it was a long weekend of sailing. Friday we motor sailed to Sausalito. Sunday we came back under light wind, 3/4 of which upwind and 1/4 with a kite up. Good stuff!

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Author: Skipper

Wannabe circumnavigator.

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