Blackhawk Tied With NeNe, Leads COVID Series After Weekend Two

Regatta report by Brent Draney of Team Blackhawk

Apropos for this crazy year, weekend two of the COVID Series threw everything at us, and it was a battle of attrition. Not giving up at times was tough. Getting clean(er) air to go sailing was a gift as it had looked like a potential smoke out once again the day before. However, all the aggressive starts and a dragging committee boat on Saturday kept us grounded to the angry mob vibe of 2020 with echoes of a Portland siege. 

The wind followed the models fairly well and we had a really good late season blow on Saturday. We brought out our AP jib and left our heavy on the dock. That turned out to be a mistake and we were suffering later in the day when the wind topped 20. Fortunately, Sunday racing backed away from apocalyptic and returned to normal racing on the bay.  We had our heavy jib for the second day and wound the rig up in the 18 kts sailing to the start, then adjusted as the wind backed off.

With practice starts and recalls, rumbling off the starting line was a theme of the weekend. Starting on Saturday was a challenge for sure. We would ping the boat end and see it was pretty heavily favored, but then see it shift to a pin favor before the time ran out. We may have been the first to realize that the committee was dragging and started to guess by how much. Eventually we just started at the stable pin.  It was a good solution for us that fit with our evolving strategy to play the left side of the course after learning a hard lesson in race one.

The entire fleet was tight and a late port cross at the top mark was a winner if you made it. If you didn’t, you had a 7-boat starboard-tack wall to pick through! Arbitrage showed us this when they tacked under our lee bow, forcing us to the right in the first race and then to watch them lead the fleet around mark one and sail on for the win. Note taken. 

We controlled the left on the second race to have the wind shift permanently left and skew the downwind run. The race lost any passing lanes and Jeff Thorpe kept us entertained on the radio trying to find a way to fix it.

Unfortunately, the repositioning of the marks for race three didn’t hold, causing the leaders some significant confusion. Ian figured out that a drifting top mark doesn’t necessarily kill a race since you have a valid offset that you have to get around as well, but the call was made to cancel and resume racing in the morning.

The first race on Sunday was definitely our favorite. The fleet again was tight, and it felt like any of 4 boats were in the lead at any given moment. Again, the left shift at the top of the course was a gainer.  We had roundings where the consistent left shift moved us from 4th to 1st around the mark in the last 100 yards. Once we figured out that part of the puzzle, we protected the left and hit anyone who tried to swap sides, forcing them back to the right.  Sorry Maverick.

The top of the leaderboard came down to the last race, and of course, we kicked it off with our weakest start of the weekend. Fortunately, we also sailed our luckiest race, cashing in all of our karma for the year! We pulled the trigger too soon and ate up our hole above Jabberwocky. This put us in a slow trapped position, with NeNe and Box of Rain above us. We were not going to live there long, but with Aquavit also trailing Box our escape was blocked by too big a tack and duck. We had to stand on for a few painful minutes. The lee bow from Jabberwocky was made even more painful with a left shift and we finally got out, tacking just after Aquavit and ducking Box of Rain.  That made us the South boat of the North pack.

We immediately got a bigger port tack lift and moved into the lead of the North group.  I was praying for any right shift to be able to get South with the leaders and cut their leverage to stop the bleeding. We also started to apologize to the rail for how hard they were going to have to hike to get us back into the race. Instead of a right shift to get us back in the mix, we had the biggest left of the day to 215.  When I finally got eyes on the top mark, we were almost lifted to it with the South fleet well overstood. I wish I could take credit for a leg of brilliance but we were really forced into a perfect position and didn’t mess it up by tacking away from the port lift. We chose to focus on boat speed instead to win the side we were on. Fellow Blackhawk crew, Jonathan Rosen, summed up the rest of the race, “When we were the first boat to the round the mark, we made an offering to the gods of luck, and focused on sailing a clean race and trying not to give up our lead with an unforced error.”

We are looking forward to this coming weekend. We hope to muster the never give up, never surrender feeling again, have good starts, figure out the wind and current puzzle, and most of all sail fast. We’ll see how much sailing karma is left in the bank!

Full results here.

Fleet #1 AdminBlackhawk Tied With NeNe, Leads COVID Series After Weekend Two
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Maverick on Top in COVID Series

The air was smokin’ and so was Mav! On August 22-23, J/105 Fleet #1 rendezvoused on the Berkeley Circle for the first of three 6-race weekend regattas dubbed the 2020 J/105 COVID Series. Ian Charles did a lot to inspire and organize the series, and now he and his team took the opportunity to kick off the racing by showing us how it’s done! Here’s his take on the weekend’s action:

What a great weekend of racing.

Saturday started out with 12-15 knots that built into the high teens and low twenties by the second race.  We saw 20-22 knots in race 3 and gusts up to 23-24.  Wind was 215 to 220 with not a lot of shifts, but an increasing flood tide called for careful lay line planning.  We saw tight racing up at the front but the big gainers were made after the windward mark. We saw driving conditions change from flat to lumpy which brought with it some adjustments to trimming and apparent wind angles.

The picket fence on Saturday was a first for me.  I’ve taken two bullets in a row but never three. This was especially sweet when we added a fourth consecutive bullet in race 1 on Sunday!  I think the secret to our success is the scrimp construction of our boat.  It adds a certain something that made it difficult for the pre-scrimp boats to keep pace with us (;-}). All kidding aside, it was a dominant day for us and our crew work really shined.  Our tactician, John Oldham, was in the groove on every call, and hoists, douses, tacks and gybes were tight and right.   

Sunday was more of a dog fight in races 2 & 3 with bogies like fire flies all over the sky.  NeNe got the jump on us in race 2 and while we ground them down, they had half a boat length on us at the finish.  Sunday’s race 3 saw us break right on the first beat after a less than stellar start, and when a 208 shift came through we were hung out to dry.  Rounding 5th or 6th we battled back and passed NeNe with a wing on wing approach into the leeward gate.  On the last leg into the finish, Nene tried for a tight lee bow maneuver which was her only move at that point.  Unfortunately, Arbitrage took a windward position to Maverick which forced us to tack away for clean air.  Coming back on starboard as we approached the pin end of the finish line, we shut the door on NeNe – though they still tried to stuff it in on port with no rights. We topped the day with a 1, 2, 3, taking 4 of 6 bullets and total of 9 point across the 6 races. 

I am very excited that we came together as a fleet to produce this event.  It certainly wasn’t easy. Having the luxury of two Protectors, a very experienced PRO in Don Wieneke, great course management and coaching with Jeff Thorpe, and great volunteers made it all possible.  I can say with certainly that I will never take an NOR or set of SIs for granted again.  They take an enormous amount of effort and careful consideration to get them right. We have 17 boats signed up for the series so far and will likely have 20+ boats in the next two events. My protector took a little damage but boats can be fixed. 

All in all, a great weekend of racing at a time when our entire season has been cancelled due to Covid.  Looking forward to seeing everyone out there again in September.

Fleet #1 AdminMaverick on Top in COVID Series
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2019 Season Wrap-Up

Rolex Big Boat Series

Wow! Great regatta, Blackhawk! Ryan Simmons and his team on #40, trounced the field of competitors during the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series. They posted a score line of 2, 1, 1, 2, 4 and a point total of only 10 points that gave them a 10-point margin over second place Ne*Ne. Tim Russell’s #003 grappled with much tighter racing for their runner-up position, taking second place by only 1 point over Maverick and Arbitrage, the third and fourth finishers respectively on the tie-break.

2019 Rolex Big Boat Series Winner, Blackhawk – photo credit Sharon Green

Racing on Thursday and Friday suffered postponements due to the slow arrival of the westerly wind, and only one race was completed each of those days. Yet, good things come to those who wait, and the fleet was graced with classic, big-wind conditions both Saturday and Sunday. The RC served up the BBS-patented bay tour races that highlight geography as a strategic factor. That plus the regular hard-core challenges of J/105 fleet racing on the Bay remind us why this event is special. Take for example the long beat out to Diablo during race 4 when Godot and Donkey Jack hugged Angel Island and played early ebb along the north shore to end-around the lead pack, all while those leaders split… some went to the city front via the Alcatraz cone and came roaring back on a fat angle under the bridge, converging with the others who drag-raced right up the middle. Incredible spread of fast-sailed boats! And man, that return leg back through the Golden Gate to the StFYC race deck in gusting 20s sure is FUN on a 105!

2019 RBBS Action – photo credit Sharon Green

For full results and coverage of 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series, go to:

Season Championship

Ne*Ne Blasting in from Pt. Diablo 2019 RBBS – photo credit Sharon Green

Huge congratulations to Tim Russell and his team on #003 Ne*Ne for their monster win of the 2019 Fleet #1 Championship. They won 16 of the 40 season counters, posted all single-digit finishes before throw-outs, and kept only top 5’s to tally a mere 58 total points. That’s an average score of 1.45! What an amazing accomplishment!!

Ryan Simmons’ Blackhawk did about as much damage to the rest of the field. Save for one 6th place finish, their keepers were all top 5’s as well, with plenty of bullets posted, totaling 81 points and a solid 55+ points over the rest of the pack. Rounding out the top 3 was Adam Spiegel, jammin’ with his team on Jam Session this summer with a convincing win at the J/Stop Regatta and a strong second place finish at the SFYC Summer Keel.

While these sailors are deserving of recognition for their command performance over this season, we all know that scores don’t tell the whole story. This fleet is TOUGH and getting TOUGHER all the time. We all deserve kudos for the time and effort and competitive spirit we put into our boats and our racing. Fleet #1 wins together for that in 2019.

Fleet #1 Admin2019 Season Wrap-Up
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Fun Racing in Shorts and T-shirts!

Who knew summer sailing in San Francisco could be so warm? Even our bowman wore shorts and a T-shirt for two days of sailing hosted by South Beach Yacht Club. What stands out for me after a weekend of sailing south of the Bay Bridge was how different this venue was from the fleet’s usual spots. And for what my vote is worth, I hope we come back for an event next year.

Difference number 1: The wind fills in late. At least it did this weekend. On Saturday morning, the fleet went out to a hot and windless race course. We saw wind out in the central bay, but we didn’t know when it would make its way to us. As a result, we spent the early afternoon floating and enjoying the scenery. For those of you who haven’t spent a sunny few hours between San Francisco and Alameda, the panorama from the new Warriors stadium through Oracle Park, the San Francisco skyline, both parts of the Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island is really quite pretty. And it turns out that the weather can be nice enough to sit back and enjoy it. Which brings us to…

Difference number 2: It was hot and sunny. In fact, it was perfect weather to lie down and take a nice nap on the deck. We sail in sunny weather often enough, but even in the sun it’s usually still cold. For those of you who missed the event this year, remember your sunblock when we come back. Remember that on those rare days you don’t wear spray pants you’ll need to keep your legs from burning. I bet our boat was not the only one to forget that.

Difference number 3: The current. There are strong currents everywhere on the bay, and each location has its own character. Sailing out of South Beach, the current runs across the course in a westerly. For this event, we were in two knots of flood both days. The race committee was fully prepared. They set a starboard rounding at the weather mark, and set very long offset leg to square the run. The fleet, on the other hand, took a race or two to figure it out. Most of us overstood the first weather mark due to the current. Godot, notably, nailed the layline call and ran away with the race one.

Difference number 4: Even when the breeze filled in, it was still warm. If it’s not clear, I enjoy good weather. During the second and third races Saturday, the breeze built to the high teens. However, since we weren’t sailing in a fog bank, it was still nicely warm out. We were reaching for sunblock rather than spray gear. Both up and downwind there were opportunities to gain and lose boats. Both sides of the course could work depending on where there was better pressure and direction at that moment.

Difference number 5: Shifts and puffs. The South Beach race course is downwind of San Francisco. At the top of the course, you need to look out for wind shadows behind ships and warehouses, puffs coming out of McCovey Cove, and shifts as the breeze weaves between the buildings. A lot could change in the last quarter of the beat, and often enough it did. You had to keep an eye out for that final shift or gust that would mean beating or losing a handful of boats. Downwind it was easy to be on the wrong gybe or overstand the gates. This course rewarded the teams who kept their eyes out of the boat.

Difference number 6: South Beach Yacht Club. Like sailing out of St. Francis, the South Beach is a very short sail from the race course. After racing it was easy to pull into our slip and head up to the club. Like SFYC, there is a beautiful deck to socialize on after sailing. The atmosphere was very comfortable for relaxing with the other sailors after a delightful day of sailing.

Sunday the wind was lighter and shiftier, but still great sailing. We squeezed off another three competitive races. Thank you to the race committee team led by Jeff Zarwell. You did a fantastic job all weekend. Thank you South Beach for hosting such a fun event. We had a blast, and can’t wait to sail with you again.

See you all on the water,
Ben Pedrick, on behalf of the entire Jam Session team

Full results at

Fleet #1 AdminFun Racing in Shorts and T-shirts!
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Go left young man…

On Saturday morning it looked like the J/Fest was a repeat of the Spring One Design. Light winds, lots of current (albeit flood) and postponements. Fortunately on both days, the wind eventually filled in and six races were completed in 14-20 knots of breeze, but not without drama that typically comes with any J/105 event.

As it seems to always be when racing in the main bay in spring, it is always favored to be the first to one side of the course and the J/Fest was no exception.

Consistently, the top boats were the ones that started at or near the pin and were able to hold their lane to get left to the relief off the city front.  Visa versa on the run, big gainers were had jibing early to get left to get into the flood that was still pushing down the middle of the bay.

In race one, Russian Roulette played both legs perfectly and held off Black Hawk for their first win of the season.

For the second and third race, winds increased to the upper end of the range and went a little right. But the left side was still favored and Ne*Ne took both races leading wire to wire after nailing two pin end starts.

At the end of day one, the top three boats were Ne*Ne with 10 points, Black Hawk with 14 points, and Jam Session with 16 points.

Sunday brought lighter breeze so at the scheduled 11:30 start the “cat and the hat” flag was displayed instead of the class flag. The race committee lowered the postponement soon after, in what some competitors called an “anxious attempt” to get a race in. The 5 knots of breeze wouldn’t have been a problem except for the three knots of flood. The boats that got left and intentionally over stood looked really good a first, but they had to cross the flood into the main channel to round the weather mark. They soon realized they would need to tack again, and again and again, just to get around the weather mark. Then again, again, and again to round the offset. Some were better at this than others especially Godot who won their first race of the season.

Fortunately by race two, winds picked up to the mid-teens. The race committee resorted to the U flag in an attempt to stop general recalls. A couple of boats got UFD’d (U flag penalty). Everything else would have been fine except a rather large log, no, more like a telephone pole, decided to get a closer look at the action and completely shut the door on the boats choosing to start at the pin. This stopped the sequence until the race committee was able to clear the invader and get the race off.  Box of Rain won the start and went on to win their first race of the season.

Some boats, including Ne*Ne (who had assumed they won the regatta) thought the sailing was done for the day and headed for the barn. But it was only 3:40 and the race committee knew they still had twenty minutes to squeak in a start before the 4:00 o’clock deadline.  Ne*Ne noticed just in time that a race was going to start. They turned and motored back toward the line until the prep signal. With four minutes to go, they quickly set a kite but it looked to be too late. Luckily a puff came through and with 90 seconds to go, they jibed in a desperate attempt to exit the triangle created by the U flag flying. With just eight seconds to spare, they manage to clear the triangle do a Mexican drop around the committee boat, and line up for the start.  Donkey Jack took the final race but Ne*Ne took third to win the regatta by five points.

Top three boats were Ne*Ne 27, Blackhawk 32, and Jam Session 43. Full results at:

The lopsided course the last two regattas has many questioning the wisdom of racing in the main part of the bay in the spring because of the strong currents. I’m on the fence. One thing for certain, it appeared nobody wanted to win this regatta. The scores were all over place and we saw two boats win their first A series race ever (Box of Rain and Russian Roulette). That was nice to see! In fact, we had five different boats win races! It doesn’t get much better than that!

Maybe racing in the main bay in spring mixes it up a little, and adds a different element? This discussion will long be forgotten as we settle in to the rest of the schedule and the more predictable sailing in the summer and on the Berkeley circle.

See you in May.

Tim Russell

Ne*Ne hull #3

Fleet #1 AdminGo left young man…
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2019 Spring One Design

by Steve Kleha (Donkey Jack #26)

By noon of the first day of Spring One Design, the north breeze had already wheezed its last breath, and glass covered the bay.  J/105s were littered across the city front and pointed in every direction as they had been since about 10:30 in the morning.  On Donkey Jack, we drifted into a tideline, and with no sails up or engine on, the boat spun a few 360s.  We marveled at each turn with childlike fascination:  “No way, it’s gonna happen again!”  When that was no longer entertaining, we scanned the horizon for wildlife, gorged ourselves on Kettle Chips, and told tall sailing tales. Not surprisingly, the breeze strength in each successive story seemed to get stronger and stronger.  The seabreeze was fashionably late to this party, of course, and the fleet milled about until the guest of honor showed up.

She reluctantly arrived at around 2:30pm in the afternoon.  The first to act was the St. Francis Yacht Club Race Committee, and that crack squad set up for a standard city front beat in just a few minutes.  The fleet came alive.  Mainsails went up, kites were flown, and line sights were taken.  As soon as the cookie crumbs and chip dust was shaken off our foulies, Donkey Jack got professional and put up some canvas.  It was quickly obvious to us, as with everyone else in the fleet, that the race committee was bathed in a hefty flood.  Combined with a moderate breeze, getting up to the line would be difficult.  Moreover, the ebb lingered in the center of the bay, or the right side of the course, so folks would be itching to take a right turn soon after the gun and get out there.  As the seconds wound down to the start, it was obvious that things were going to get rowdy at the committee boat.

photo credit Chris Ray

Seconds before the start, it did get rowdy at the committee boat.  On the leeward side of the boat trimming jib, I could hear heated verbal exchange between skippers defending their turf; thankfully, the exchanged words were devoid of any mom comments.  As Donkey Jack made its final turn upwind, I trimmed the jib the last few inches.  There was enough wind to dip the leeward rail, and my boot, in cold bay water.  The Donkey was at the committee boat, and I was looking right down the line.  The line was filled with bows.  I remember thinking, “Dude, this fleet is tight!”

In the interest of getting races off, the race committee sent us on a quick milk run up to the windward mark and back.  Heading up the beat, we had flood until we got to the center of the bay, and with it, some ebb.  Blackhawk and Godot got to the ebb first and ran away with it.  As we saw flood at the start, we assumed that there would be flood at the windward mark.  We deliberately overstood expecting to be pushed down to the layline.  Much to our surprise, the flood never returned, and the windward mark sat in slack water.  Box of Rain didn’t need a second invitation to tack inside of us.  The wind carried the sound of their cackling all the way to the windward mark.   In conversations that evening at the bar, we listened to speculation that the massive rains this year have disturbed conventional flood and ebb patterns.  That should make for some interesting racing this year.

The second race was a twice around.  The breeze had come up a bit, and we were seeing 15 – 18 knots on the gauges.  We put a few turns on the rig to take the edge off the breeze and formulated a similar game plan–minus the bit where we’d give the entire fleet an opportunity to tack inside of us at the windward mark.  It’s a well rehearsed plan most San Francisco sailors are familiar with:  head out to the ebb in the center of the bay for the upwind, hunt for flood or relief along the city front for the downwind.  Advantage3 walked away with race two, stretching out a commanding lead over the fleet.  Jam Session and Arrived! battled for the number two position.  Donkey Jack came in fourth, a respectable finish given how competitive the fleet is.

Back at the docks, the Donkey Jack and a few other boats celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with green cans of Heineken.  It got cold pretty quick so we retreated to the warmth of the St. Francis Yacht Club for the usual revelry that follows day one of a J/105 regatta.  That and the corned beef hash and green flecked four leaf clover cookies!  The kitchen at StFYC doesn’t disappoint.

If the seabreeze was fashionably late on Saturday, she was just plain mean on Sunday.  The day started with a northerly that morphed into a northwesterly that eventually caved into the seabreeze.  The race committee made every effort to set up a course in the ever changing breeze, dealing with deep anchorages, commercial traffic, engine problems and bad luck.  As with the prior day, J/105s were on the race course from 10:30 in the morning until the start of the first and only race at 3pm.  I may be exaggerating but only slightly: I believe we were jib reaching on port tack towards Alcatraz for a couple of hours, holding a position between the the Palace of Fine Arts and the St. Francis Yacht Club.  The ebb kept us in the same spot for what seemed an eternity.

Remarkably, before the fleet went into sequence, Yunona collided with the race committee, lodging the RC’s anchor line between her rudder and keel.  Despite best efforts, the ebb tide kept Yunona plastered to the bow of the committee boat, and the two were unable to detangle.  We were startled to hear the RC broadcast over channel 69, “J/105 sequence will commence in 1 minute.”  The all-star race committee managed to fire a race off while hosting its own mini-flotilla.  That kind of skill takes years to perfect, and I truly wonder how many cocktails it took for Yunona to rectify the gaffe.

Coming into the final race one point behind first place boat Blackhawk, Donkey Jack’s objective was to maintain our position and, if the opportunity arose, improve it.  The first beat handed us that opportunity.  After a tricky start in a strong ebb, we managed to round third behind Ne*Ne and Advantage3.  We saw Blackhawk a few boats behind us, charging through the fleet.  The drama started to unfold.

At the final leeward mark of the race, Advantage3 chose the wrong gate, giving us the opportunity to jump into second.  At the windward mark, Ne*Ne had an override, causing a delay and forcing her to use her jib halyard to hoist the kite.  This delay put Donkey Jack into first with Ne*Ne immediately behind.  Advantage3 and Blackhawk were within striking distance of the podium.

photo credit Chris Ray

The first place boat always hopes that those behind will simply follow.  This was not the case here, and that should not be surprising given the talent in the J/105 fleet.  Advantage3 and Blackhawk went to the right side of the course, more toward the city front.  Donkey Jack and Ne’Ne went the other way, headed toward the left hand side of the course.  It was a tactically challenging leg, and remarkably, Blackhawk managed to launch from fourth to contend for first by staying on the favorable side of a current line.  As the four boats converged on the finish, Donkey Jack edged out Blackhawk by just a few feet, both boats fully overlapped at the finish.  According to sources, Advantage3 and Ne*Ne finished within a boat length of first and second.  So after two laps and forty minutes of racing, the top four boats were separated by seconds.

Rolf Kaiser and his Donkey Jack took top honors in the Spring One Design, beating Ryan Simmons and Blackhawk in a tie breaker.  Tim Russell’s Ne*Ne completed the podium with a third place finish.  Special thanks to a heroic effort by the race committee who put on an excellent regatta in the face of several seemingly insurmountable challenges.

photo credit Chris Ray

Full results at

Fleet #1 Admin2019 Spring One Design
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Whale Whalloping

Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images/Getty Images

There’s all kinds of wildlife to see on the bay, and occasionally we get a whale or two inside the gate. The tourism possibilities of our playground are not just for people, I guess.

During the Three Bridge Fiasco race in late January, Jam Session, a regular Fleet One boat, hit one of the finned visitors, ending their race day and presumably, annoying the whale.

Read all about it here:

Jam Session’s skipper Ahab Spiegel was not quoted in the piece, but was heard later in the bar explaining his plan to chase the whale round the Cape and round the Horn and round Perdition’s flames. He is going to have to wait until Jam Session’s rudder bearings get fixed, though. Barnacles sure make a mess of your bottom paint.

Fleet #1 AdminWhale Whalloping
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Ne*Ne Holds Off Blackhawk in Dramatic Tiebreaker

Regatta report by Halsey Richartz, Team Arbitrage 116
The 2018 Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure got off to a slow postponed start as the start for Class A in Race 1 manifested a massive starboard end advantage requiring a total reset of the starting line delaying all other classes one hour. Uncharacteristically, modified windward leewards were sailed throughout the weekend by the J/105 fleet. This made for exciting short track final beats in a number of races with close finishes; too close for some. With dying ebb outside under the gate and late ebb turning to early flood on the city front, the pack could reliably be found on the middle/right side of the course all weekend in all but the final race of day 1. There was no shortage of love for the boat start as a result where the game was to get on port as soon as possible. Adding to the fun were starboard windward mark roundings on Saturday which made for button hook turns and port boats with kites setting directly into the starboard layline train. Wind ranged from 10-20+ knots with strong breeze down by the start and middle section of the beat dying to low teens and sometimes lower on the approach to the weather mark at Blackaller. A persistent pressure line just above the windward layline with a dead zone just beneath made lane management critical as crews decided whether they were just far enough over-stood to stay in the max pressure all the way into the weather mark. Large gains were made by those who called thin laylines and sailed less distance leading back to the left at the top. The play downwind seemingly all weekend was to get out into the pressure under the gate and ride it downwind. In all but the last race the outside paid dividends. Day 1 left Ne*Ne in first by three. Blackhawk trailed by two and Arbitrage and Akula were tied three back with delta to the pack.
Sunday brought initially lighter conditions to start but the breeze quickly ramped up seeing a gust as high as 25 knots in the first wave of the build. Port windward mark roundings made the top marks more orderly but changed little of the strategy downwind other than making a quick gybe the move. Maverick was the star of the day on Sunday crushing both starts at the port end and getting launched early. The top group was much more dispersed throughout the fleet on day two resulting in hyper fluid standings. The breeze was slightly left of that on Saturday giving the pin end greater leverage if you could flip over to port quickly. Humbled for much of race one on Sunday, Arbitrage found good water and elusive pressure on the final run of the race to scrape back some much needed places going into the gate. Just shy of the finish, Blackhawk let Arbitrage duck on port and they were able to nip Blackhawk at the finish line which would prove costly in the end. Going into the final race Ne*Ne was comfortably ahead on points but was boxed out at the unfavored boat end and found themselves deep in the fleet which proved costly to their final race result but clawed back just enough to tie with Blackhawk who took a bullet to cap the weekend. Resilience and an ability to, if necessary, come back from deep in the fleet proved the winning edge for Ne*Ne. They were able to dig back just enough in the final race to stymy the rally by Blackhawk and Maverick. Uncharacteristically no bay tour races were sailed leaving the long distance fun for next month.mIn the end, Ne*Ne and Blackhawk tied for the win with 16pts with Ne*Ne edging Blackhawk on firsts in the tie breaker. Arbitrage came third with 19pts with Maverick hot on their heels with 20pts one point back after a stellar Sunday 1-2. A thrilling end to the last tune up event before the ~30 entrant J/105 fleet takes the line at next months’ Big Boat Series.
Fleet #1 AdminNe*Ne Holds Off Blackhawk in Dramatic Tiebreaker
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Blackhawk Wins 2018 Sausalito YC Invitational

Regatta report by Ryan Simmons, Blackhawk

The Sausalito One Design Invitational proved to be one of the tightest and most competitive regattas of the season. 24 boats raced in fabulous conditions off the west face of Alcatraz in 12-24 knots of breeze throughout of the weekend. The current was dying ebb into a building flood, putting a huge premium on nailing the starboard lay line for the weather mark.

The 6 race weekend had 5 race winners, Z-flag penalties and a redress hearing effecting the final score sheet. All mark rounding’s were extremely tight, sometimes 5+ boats deep to get around the marks. Going into the final race 4 boats had a chance to win the regatta: Blackhawk, Ne Ne, Arbitrage and Jam Session. Unfortunately there was a collision at the start and Blackhawk was forced to retire from the race immediately. Blackhawk was lining up to start at the boat, as the North side of the course had been paying all day. The pack of boats below luffed one final time before starting the final approach for the line, and unfortunately one of the boats was caught back winded and tacked onto port. They were unable to correct their course and were forced down into Blackhawk, which due to the proximity to the committee boat, were unable to avoid the collision.

Upon reflection and discussion once everyone was safely back on land, a few lessons were learned. The main error the back winded boat made at the start was cleating the jib too soon, during maneuvers. When the boat luffed with the jib sheeted in and cleated, it was a very narrow window to hold their position without the jib back winding and forcing the bow down hard to the right. Had the sheet not been cleated the boat would have been able to hold their position head to wind until the leeward boat cleared and they could have sheeted in to accelerate. It is a humbling reminder how powerful the sails are and how quickly the rudder can become useless, the sails drive the boat. With 24 boats on a tight start line, there is no escape should someone suddenly tack onto port in the middle of the line, especially in the final 20 seconds. The same situation can present itself at the weather mark when trying to shoot. If the skipper turns a little bit too far, or a wave pushes the bow a bit further than anticipated, the shooting boat can find themselves on port tack, facing a line of starboard tack boats with no escape.

Once the redress hearing was completed, Blackhawk was awarded average points in the final race, 3.8, for a total of 22.8 points and emerged victorious with a 1.2 point victory over Ne Ne (24). Tied for 3rd was Arbitrage and Jam Session with 27 points, with the tie breaker going to Arbitrage with a bullet in race 2. Jam Session won race 1, and took second in race 2 and 6, but was issued a Z-flag penalty in race 1, giving the tie breaker to Arbitrage. Maverick rounded out the top 5 with a total of 36 points, one better than Godot.

Full results at:

Fleet #1 AdminBlackhawk Wins 2018 Sausalito YC Invitational
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