Valentine’s Day Doublehanded: Recap & Results!!!

Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault in Arbitrage won the J/105 Valentine’s Rally, followed by Justin Oberbauer on Strangelove, Adam Spiegel on Jam Session, Bill Woodruff on Russian Roulette, and Tom Struttmann and Joerg Esdorn on Arrived!. 

Bruce Stone on Arbitrage shared his thoughts on the victory:

With the typically modest mid-winter breeze out of the northeast and our starting area in front of Golden Gate YC, the R/C announced a course to the East with port roundings. We reran our spin gear to account for that. However, just ten minutes before the warning, we had a shift to the WSW. The R/C made a last-minute call of the new course to Blackaller (just before the Golden Gate Bridge), sending the other crews and us scrambling to rerun our spin gear for the starboard rounding that would take everyone out into the flood tide.

Given the adverse current, teams were challenged right from the start. To exploit the relief along the shore required ping-ponging off the breakwater in front of the St. Francis, normally quite easy with a full crew but a workout for double-handers! 

Arbitrage had a great start, and after making some gains toward the shore we decided to stretch out on port tack for the better wind just 100 yards out – a typical arbitrage of wind and tide (hence the name of Bruce’s boat). 

Arbitrage won that battle and rounded clear ahead, setting the kite and reaching out to the favorable flood in the light breeze. A long downwind to channel mark 4, passing Alcatraz to port, created passing opportunities for the trailing boats. Some went low toward Treasure Island, staying in the dying flood, while Arbitrage and Jam Session looked for better wind toward the north and took a gamble in cutting behind Alcatraz. That approach backfired as they were both swept up in the reverse eddy of the famous cone. 

After apparently losing its lead, Arbitrage jibed back into fresh air and extricated themselves from the ebb in a clean spinnaker reach to the downwind mark, converging with the other boats that had stayed away from Alcatraz. We executed a Mexican drop just past the mark with the jib preset for the upwind leg and were able to round tightly and head right toward the finish at Golden Gate YC. 

Other teams dropped too early and struggled to round the mark in the light winds and early ebb tide. Everyone headed toward the city front as the flood had ended and ebb was established there, but once again pressure trumped tide, and it was better to stay in the deeper water. Tom Struttmann and Joerg Esdorn on Arrived! went too far, ran out of wind, and retired.

Next up for the J/105 double-handers is the Single-handed Sailing Society’s Corinthian Regatta on February 27, with 150 boats competing, 7 of which are J/105s – see – and then the Pi Regatta on 3/14. See you there!



Mays DickeyValentine’s Day Doublehanded: Recap & Results!!!
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SYC/RegattaPro Midwinters Day 2: Results Posted!!!

The 2nd day of the RegattaPro Midwinters series hosted by PRO Jeff Zarwell & the Sausalito Yacht Club took place under picture-perfect conditions yesterday. Fifteen J/105s hit the line in a dying flood tide on the Berkeley Circle. After three more races, the top of the leaderboard has tightened dramatically, and the series will be decided in the final installment on March 13.

With a throwaway now in the mix, Tim Russell and his team on Ne*Ne are now tied with Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault on Arbitrage with 7 points for the series, followed closely by Ian Charles’ Maverick with 9 points to round out the podium. Each of the top three boats had a bullet on the day.

Eric Patterson & Steve Prince’s Kestrel moved up to 4th place after a strong showing on the day, and Bill Woodruff’s Russian Roulette moved up the line to fifth place with a 2nd in Race 5. 

Conditions changed dramatically as the day went on, and competitors who were able to shift gears and adapt their strategies to developments on the water were rewarded. Forecasts for the day were all over the map, and at first gun, things looked bleak with only 3.5 knots of breeze. But, as if on cue, at 1100, the wind filled from the north to around 8-10 knots and the Race Committee hoisted the class flag right on time. 

Race 1 generally saw current relief inside on the right side of the course, but the recent rains created some massive back eddies, so keen observation & lane choice were paramount to success. Passing lanes abounded for those who could seize the moment.

The northerly didn’t stick around long, and by the start of Race 2, the westerly had established its dominance, building to almost summer-like conditions. But, this wasn’t a July day on the bay as the breeze was quite puffy. Aboard Maverick we saw puffs to 22 and lulls down to 12, meaning gear-shifting was vital. 

The breezy conditions also placed a premium on boathandling. After a few months of downtime, the competitors who were able to most quickly shake off the rust of a few months of downtime and keep their kites out of the water & off the forestay quickly moved up the scoresheet. 

Race 3 saw similar conditions with the ebb tide being generally stronger on the left, but the wind was oscillating dramatically, so clean lanes & hitting your shifts were key.

After the middle two days of the event were postponed due to COVID, the final installment will take place on March 13. It’s not too late to sign up & join us!


Mays DickeySYC/RegattaPro Midwinters Day 2: Results Posted!!!
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Oh, Tandem-Baum: The Regatta Recap

The First Annual Doublehanded Tandem-Baum Regatta took place on December 12, 2020. Below is a recap of the event along with some illuminating comments from the competitors.

From Ian Charles – Fleet Captain – J/105 Bay Fleet One (SF Bay):

Hello Tandem-Baum Regatta Racers: Thank you for taking part in the first annual Tandem-Baum Regatta on Dec 12, 2020. Congratulations to all participants!

Ryan Simmons & Brent Draney on Blackhawk took the win, followed by Justin Oberbauer on Strangelove and Bill Woodruff on Russian Roulette.


  1. Ryan Simmons, Blackhawk
  2. Justin Oberbauer, Strangelove
  3. Bill Woodruff, Russian Roulette
  4. Tim Russell, Ne*Ne
  5. Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault, Arbitrage
  6. Charlie Pick, Box of Rain
  7. Tom Struttmann, Arrived!
  8. Greg Arkus, Streaker (RET)

Comments from participants:

From Brent Draney – Blackhawk

On the start, the secret was out to start at the pin, which was upwind and uptide as the R/C boat had drifted west. Blackhawk was the 3rd barger, and we threatened a late hook to help move the boats down the line. Bruce held up for a second-row start and still ended up as a blocker with a very good start. You have to be careful not to get too far advanced, or you can’t get down to the mark.

The wind was up and down a lot. I adjusted the jib halyard twice before the first tack, and I played the jib sheet a fair amount.
Blackhawk had the advantage of coming over from SFYC, and we passed close to Harding on the way. The ebb was on and ripping much more than I expected early on. Ryan and I chatted about the criteria for leaving the starting line on port or starboard and whether or not to play the reverse cone or go to Angel Island. We thought with the stronger early ebb on the North side that there would be a significant risk of running out of wind before getting to the relief. The tide chart you show with current out of the South Bay at Alcatraz is what I expected with port tack lee bow up close to Alcatraz. That was the play we were hoping for and expected to get significant relief and a leebow.

We were starting to lose range to Arbitrage and crossing into stronger ebb, and I was getting nervous that we would miss the reverse cone. Blackhawk tacked first to Alcatraz, giving up a controlling position to NeNe, but it turned out to be a really bad spot with light air. We barely crossed Bruce when I thought we were a good three boat lengths. NeNe followed and covered in more pressure and on the inside of lifted puffs. They put five boat lengths on us in about 2 minutes, taking a solid lead.
Strangelove joined us while Bruce and Nicole continued on starboard, which was a significant gut-check. Blackhawk took another short hitch to the North to get more wind and flipped back to port just shy of a tideline. NeNe came over and covered with a slam dunk, and we opted to pinch up out of Tim’s gas. Two more tacks would be really expensive, and Tim is a fast footer meaning a down option is not likely to work. We got a clear high lane, and NeNe sailed fast to the reverse cone relief. Strangelove avoided the extra tacks and was in the best current relief but less wind. It looked like it helped or was at least break even. The port tack lee bow current was not what we saw at Alcatraz. The current was definitely North to South, and it accelerated from 2 to 2.8 kts. My guess is we had a little runoff from the rain, and the North Bay ebb came early and stronger.
Both NeNe and Blackhawk had to tack to get around little Alcatraz, and NeNe’s tack back to the rock looked marginal and not worth two tacks as they couldn’t clear the island. Looking at Arbitrage while we were on starboard, they were way ahead of us with the left shift we had. If we crossed to Angel, we would be behind them. We chose to tack back to port and see if we could find the lee bow south bay current.
Tim may have seen the same thing as he let us go, and we got a couple of hundred yards of leverage to the South. For the next 10 minutes, we saw the current slowly clock to coming from the South, and it shoved us up under Tim. His 15 boat length lead closed to about 3. We waited for Tim to tack and followed him to round YRA-8 hoping for a downwind opportunity. Opportunity came fast. After a simultaneous set, we dug deeper, and NeNe had to rerun the kite tack line. We pulled a seven boatlengths to leeward advantage to bow even by the time they got it sorted.
We had some trouble balancing the wind direction vs. the wave action of the current of Blunt, and gave back 3 of those boat lengths by the time we were at Harding. We were feeling overstood but were planning a simultaneous jibe and lead back to Blackaller. We finally jibed as JC was dancing on the bow, trying to sort something out.
We were definitely overstood, and the chart plotter helped a lot to show us how much. Finding the mark was hard, and it was 1/2 submerged in the ebb. An early letterbox douse paid off, but we didn’t have that much extra time. We sailed close-hauled to Anita Rock and then cracked off a bit to get closer to shore, tacking at the finish line at 12:47:00. I’m not sure if the current relief was worth the extra distance to finish at the club—I’d be interested in hearing what it was like at Angel Island.


From: William Woodruff – Russian Roulette:

Congratulations to Brent and Ryan for the win. If you all are game, I would like to review the race a little. I’ll start with the observations from my boat.

1. At the start, the pin end was favored. RR tacked to the line late and got totally shut out.

I was hoping the current would open a gap at the pin, but this is the J/105 fleet: not gonna happen.

We did a nice power loop and crossed at the pin, which seemed to pay off versus taking sterns. We were back in the mix in about 5 minutes, but we were not pointing well.

a. Russian Roulette was off on sail trim. We figured out after the race that the jib halyard was left loose. We had to drive down quite a bit more than the other boats. Big forehead slap on that one, it was obvious.

b. Downwind we were not flying a great kite, but we still seemed to stay about even with Strangelove. Blackhawk and NeNe were too far ahead at that point.

c. Strangelove and Russian Roulette were pretty even upwind, Blackhawk and Ne-Ne drove away from us. I think we have figured out what was wrong on insight on what Strangelove should change.

3. Tactics upwind:

a. The top four boats tacked towards Alcatraz early. My thought was to tack towards Alcatraz and sail up into some current relief. I targeted the NW end of appears the other half of the fleet went towards Angel, what was the thinking there? I did not see much current relief at Alcatraz. We still had about 2 kts between water speed and ground speed, but decent wind. The current gained a southerly component and the wind shifted a little north, so port tack after very favored. I am attaching a current map from noon on Saturday.

4. Tactics downwind:

a. Nothing too complicated here. The main thing was to locate Blackaller (something that always seems too hard – why?!?) and making sure we put enough against the current to turn DDW to douse. Particularly important shorthanded – making sure you can drive down to help the douse. In hindsight, we should gybed earlier as we had to sail pretty hot near Blackaller.

5. Final leg:

a. We tried to stay closer to shore hoping for a little current relief. Again, we were not pointing well and got to watch NeNe sail up our backside. Strangelove out a little on RR, so had better trim, but NeNe was still superior to both of us on speed and point.

Thanks all for making this happen. RR had a great time today. Looking forward to more doublehanded races against other J105s.

Bill W.

From Nicole Breault – Arbitrage:

Despite separating ourselves back from the front group a fair bit by the time we rounded R8, the sailing on Arbitrage was a welcome break from cabin fever. We set up too high and late at the pin so had to settle for a few seconds delay while we waited for room to open on Blackhawk’s hip. We had to work in point mode to stay there and were pleased with how long we were able to hang.

We had the cone in mind, and about the time the lead boats were tacking to port to cross us, we decided to play through a bit and enjoy a few minutes of open water.

The wind seemed better toward Angel, and we also thought the ebb would be less than it was. We got a nice header near Harding and tacked in comparably better pressure than the fleet heading to Alcatraz. In spite of the adverse water we were cookin’ and I was feeling great. Still behind Angel we were pointing at the mark! But then we started talking about what to expect if we continued. The pressure looked great toward Point Blunt and so we went with Arrived for more relief. Then the picture changed. The Alcatraz boats emerged into the better breeze and water east of the island and we found the relief play ineffective and too far. We had to crack off to get to the mark as we sailed uphill through Ne*Ne, Blackhawk, Strangelove, and Roulette demonstrating their double handed spinnaker hoists.

Comfortably behind those four and comfortably ahead the rest, we thought about cleating the spin sheet and having lunch. But instead we decided to do some gybes. Playing a more ‘inside’ route, though not so aggressive as to cross the cone, we put ourselves in a safer position concerning the tide as we sailed into the lighter city front area. We closed up a lot of distance on the four boats we were chasing as they got swept a bit past layline – though that also may have been because Blackaller was hard to spot. Unfortunately, close is no cigar… we trailed into the finish with the last leg a veritable fetch.

I applaud Bruce for managing the pit tasks and singlehandedly turning the boat upwind while getting the main in somehow… I was busy taking forever to squirrel the kite into the forward hatch. In hindsight, tactically we should have stayed close to the pack, hipping up on Ne*Ne and staying ahead of Stangelove and Roulette. Next, having taken extra risk to gain more leverage in better pressure, and then looking good, we should have consolidated our gains and converged with the cone boats in the merge of South Bay flow and North Bay flow. Who knows, maybe we could have taken the lead or at least settled somewhere into the pack to play rather than chase.

Great sailing,

From Bruce Stone  – Arbitrage:

Congratulations to Ryan, and kudos to Ian for lending the Protector and to Don as our PRO. Let’s do it again in January!


From Charlie Pick – Box of Rain:


Pitching in on this debrief, we had a good time out on BOR in my first double handed race ever! I had tried one of the Quarantine cups back in April but that was non-spin. So this was really our first and it went better than expected.

We certainly had some funny moments like the douse where I had to let go of the helm, come what may, to go up and release the halyard.

Tactics were our downfall. We totally missed the start thinking A buoy was X but we had decent speed towards Alcatraz and started gaining boats. We were in the mix at Alcatraz and played the cone well and pretty much as I expected. But then we decided to tough out a cross to Point Blunt with the idea of getting more breeze and splitting the difference btw the North Bay and South Bay ebbs. Alas it didn’t work because the South Bay ebb ruled, but we wound up making a clean finish and sharing a sweet day on the bay with you all.

Charles Pick

Reply from Bill W.:


If it helps, on my boat we have settled on the following for the double-handed spin douse. Wrap the tack line on the primary winch, open clutch, and hand tail to driver. Wrap spinnaker halyard on the cabin top winch, open clutch, and hand the tail to driver. We have tried both handing the spin sheet to the driver or letting the bowman take it forward, both seem to work equally well. The bowman stands in the hatch and grabs the tack retrieval line (we have a second line attached the tack). In this position, they are very secure and can use both hands to work the sail. On douse, the driver heads down and blows the tack line. Once the tack flies up about five feet (well clear of the pulpit), the sheet is blown. The bowman collects the foot of the spinnaker like a madman until he has both the tack, clew, and the bottom of the sail in a bear hug. What works well for me is to pull the tack to my body and stand on the tack retrieval line. Then pull on the foot of the sail until you have the clew. This forces the sail into a nicely depowered tube and you can relax. The halyard is then dropped as the bowman, hugging the kite, drops down into the hatch onto his butt and then swims the rest of the kite down. If things start going south, the bowman can just drop in the hatch early with the tack and start pulling, concentrating mostly on the foot. Once down, the three corners are lifted back up and the kite is ready to go up again. The only trick is to make sure the lazy spin sheet along with the jib sheets are around the hatch on the side of boat away from the douse – you have to pull the kite “under” all the sheets or it will get hopelessly wrapped up. Once you practice this a little, the kite drops very easily and you don’t have to do any prep to launch it again. I’m sure all eight boats doused in eight different ways, but this works well for us.

Bill W.

Reply from Brent:

I am very partial to a letterbox douse shorthanded as I can douse the kite and have it safely below without ever leaving the cockpit. It is the safest douse but also one of the slowest and requires rerunning all of the gear for a reset.

It’s the best last douse. Not a good choice if you have to reset quickly. If you ever have to take the kite down solo it’s the way to go. If you’ve never heard of this you aren’t alone. Youtube only has 3 videos. Here is one:

Take the lazy sheet under the foot of the main and over the boom. Spike the tack and pull the kite in over the top of the boom and into the back hatch. The boom keeps the kite out off the water and you have it snuffed against the main to keep it from the breeze. Leaves a mess to deal with later after you get the sails in and driving upwind.


From Justin Oberbauer – Strangelove:


For the start, we could see a poor situation developing at the pin. Although it was the place to be, we chose to start clean down the line and try to stay even with NeNe off the start.

Our plan was to go to the reverse cone, but we needed to wait for Blackhawk, NeNe and Arbitrage. We tacked after Blackhawk, going behind Arbitrage, expecting all of them to tack on us. We were delighted when they continued sailing on starboard out to the left. We sailed deep into the cone until the wind got light, and tacked out for more pressure. We felt the pressure to stay in the cone, but in hindsight would have been better off staying a bit further to the left for pressure. We worked up to the Alcatraz buoy and exchanged tacks with Russian Roulette and Box of Rain, not pulling it off and came out on starboard behind BOR and just ahead of RR. We extended out into better pressure and then tacked onto port for the long tack to the east of Alcatraz. We did not feel super comfortable during this leg. I think in hindsight, we were too tight and not shifting gears fast enough. We saw. consistent 10-12 with short lulls in between and we should have played the jib way more than we did. We tacked onto a perfect layline to the red buoy, perhaps not holding our height as much as we should as we needed a short luff to get around the buoy. It was too close. We got a good set and settled into the run. Nene ran into trouble, giving us an opportunity to move into the second place position. We worked low for the most part until it was clear we were going to be overstood and the started up to give us room to come down for a clean drop. We rounded started in a high mode pointing directly at the finish. RR seemed to favor the shore for relief and out of caution, we favored covering RR, vs heading straight to the line. This caused us to miss fetching anita, we had to tack back out, then tacked back onto port for another cover on RR. We stayed on port until nearly the finish line where we tacked just below the line and crossed in strong adverse current on starboard, almost parallel to the line.

It was a very fine day. Let’s do it again in January.


From Joerg Esdorn – Arrived!:

From the forward cockpit of Arrived!: My lips are sealed as to some key causes of our embarrassing (non) performance, but let me say this in the spirit of contributing to the mutual learning experience, which is much appreciated. Initially, we looked good on the way to Angel with 14 knots of breeze oscillating between 45 and 40 TWD. So then the idea to just wait with a tack over and go for the presumed current shadow of Angel was born. Interestingly, however, we never really found the shadow. On port, we were 2 knots slower on SOG than BSP, on starboard some .7 knots. This did not change much until we were close to the beach. But then, in the last 200 yards, the breeze was down quite a bit so there was no big advantage there although we took several boat lengths of Arbitrage initially. This contrasts with my experience of another winter regatta last year where every time you permitted a boat to get closer to the beach than you, you were giving away boat lengths. Looking at the current charts after the fact, it is now obvious that going left was a clear looser because the adverse current was forecast to be less on the right and with the South Bay ebb, helping with a push from leeward, resulting in a lift and more wind speed. A double whammy. Lesson learned: it’s possible to look at the current charts after the start! On the downwind, we did not jibe early enough and we did not line up compass course to Blackaller with COG which would have been a good start to avoid sailing extra distance. And then the disaster of our take down – I should call it a let down instead. Never attempt a letter box drop on a reach! Tom and I are much looking forward to the next opportunity to embarrass ourselves!

Cheers. Joerg

Mays DickeyOh, Tandem-Baum: The Regatta Recap
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2021 Doublehanded Valentine’s Day Rally – NOR posted!

Whether you’re looking for love or just a good time on the water, come join J/105 Fleet 1 for some doublehanded action on the cityfront for Valentine’s Day!

This will be a B level event. Either crew may drive, retrieval lines are allowed, and charter boats are A-OK.

Regatta Chair: Bruce Stone
PRO: Don Weineke – 415-332-0186

The NOR has been posted!

Please register on RegattaNetwork here!

Fleet #1 Admin2021 Doublehanded Valentine’s Day Rally – NOR posted!
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Bittersweet Chocolate Regatta

On National Bittersweet Chocolate Day – Sunday, Jan 10 – nine J/105s gathered informally near Golden Gate YC’s X buoy in what has become a monthly rally to get some fresh air and double-handed sailing, and earn the prizes of Bruce’s bittersweet chocolate brownies.  With a 4-7 kt northeasterly and a few knots of ebb, expected to build significantly, several skippers wondered whether we could even make it around the course.  Actually, an hour before the start, the current was strongly flooding INSIDE SF Marina’s West Harbor driving Bruce Stone’s J/105 Arbitrage sideways into the corner of the guest dock, earning a severe scrape of the hull.  After Co-owner (and spouse) Nicole Breault applied a healthy amount of duct tape, the team headed out to the starting area.

With the wind starting to clock north just before the start, and the windward mark being YRA 8 (channel marker R “4”), most boats started at the wind-favored X buoy, while Akula, skippered by Doug Bailey, started on port at the Wave Organ, the shoreside end of the line, in less adverse current.  Akula headed along the shore all the way to Pier 39, and looked way behind, especially when the wind shifted further north and both Ne*Ne and Arbitrage were able to set their spinnakers while still on the first leg.  With most of the fleet gaining current relief by passing Alcatraz to the north, Akula seemed to be a mile behind.  The northerly then ramped up to 12 kts and the “leaders” were sailing on a tight spinnaker reach, barely under control since they were missing 800 pounds of crew!  All of a sudden, Akula poked out into the ebb exiting from South Bay and achieved a massive VMG as he headed north toward the mark, arriving there a half-mile ahead of Ne*Ne, Russian Roulette, Arrived! and Arbitrage rounding together in that order.  Akula then headed southwest (with the westward flowing ebb) in a fast close jib reach to Blackaller, and the next four boats traded places behind her.  It was quite tactical as Ne*Ne and Russian Roulette sailed high so they could reset their spinnakers, while Arbitrage sailed low with the jib barber-hauled to the rail and Arrived split the difference.  Approaching Blackaller for the final rounding to finish at Golden Gate YC, Arbitrage moved up to third by passing Roulette and Arrived!, while Ne*Ne held on for second behind Akula in first.  

In Doug’s words:

“The J105 BitterSweet Double-Handed Race: aka: Reach-around with Bruce:

Racing on The Bay in winter is always a crap-shoot with respect to the wind. Sometimes it shows up, and sometimes it doesn’t. The forecast for Sunday did not look promising, with a high level Northerly flow in relatively stable air, leading to predictions of just 5kts max across the race course. Couple that with a vicious ebb, and I was in half a mind to stay home, cook brownies for myself, settle down on the couch and watch the wildcard games in comfort. There’s nothing worse than hanging out at the Wave Organ for 2 hours in just enough wind to get to it, but not enough to poke your nose out into the current and pass it. Been there, done that. As this was an informal race, Bruce communicated the course – X (start) to Red 4 to Blackaller to X (finish); my crew Roberto Giramonti and I discussed our options.

As luck would have it, we were blessed with 4 kts wind at 11:00 AM and what looked like better air out in the central part of the bay. However, I was not sure that there was enough breeze to overcome the central bay ebb and I was particularly concerned about the wind shadow of Angel Island because of the northerly component. I wanted to try to get our nose out into the long fetch down the bay quickly to avoid parking or worse, getting washed backwards to Harding and beyond. We decided to take the long way around and hide from the ebb along the city front, before making the call to cross the (stronger, but shorter distance) ebb flow to relief at the back of TI.

Surprisingly, no-one came with us, and by the time we figured that out, there was no way to get to the boats that were already well out into the wind line – we were stuck with our plan. It did not look good for a while as we made 0.1 kts SOG past Ft. Mason. The breeze in there was very light – I speculate that it was coming undisturbed at 4kts or less down the bay and the laminar flow was lifting up over the land leaving us with just zephyrs to use to make progress in the more or less slack water behind Aquatic Park. What kept us motivated was the flags flying strongly on Pier 39 – we were pretty sure that if we could make it past the ebb on the marina wall and into the next section of relief, we would be in good shape.

The money decision was when to head out into the current and go for the mark. It was already easily “fetchable” in the absence of current and so the decision rested on the relative strengths of the wind and current on the run up to Red 4. In the end it was clear that we stayed on the cityfront too long – we never had to go above 40 degrees apparent on what turned into a fast white sail reach past Blossom and Red 2. We saw the central bay fleet coming fast carrying kites (and staysails in some cases) at fine angles, but we were pretty sure that we would get to Red 4 with plenty of gap, which is what happened. At that point it was simply a matter of covering the fleet on the way back out to Blackaller and home to X. We had a kite ready to go and we were watching to see if anyone took a flyer south of Alcatraz, but no-one did and we felt that the guys that did launch would not be able to catch us. We elected to keep it simple and reduce the risk of a mistake by holding our kite in its bag. We won with a few minutes to spare, followed by Ne*Ne, Arbitrage and Arrived! 

Bruce handed over our prize – the eponymous Bittersweet Brownies, much better than I would have made if I’d stayed home. A delicious, but nerve-wracking and somewhat lonely, day on the Bay.”

Next double-handed rally for the fleet will be on Valentine’s, Feb 14.

Fleet #1 AdminBittersweet Chocolate Regatta
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Keeping One Design Racing Alive During the Pandemic

Don Wieneke, fellow fleet member and PRO for our recent COVID series, contributed the following article to the November issue of US Sailing’s One Design Central, an excellent resource for information on J/105s and One Design.

How did San Francisco’s J/105 Class Fleet #1 Stay Happy and Healthy while Racing During a Pandemic?

The answer is by continuing to race. Here’s how we ran a safe six-day series over the summer without a yacht club.

The Issue:

The major clubs usually run our races but this year it was quite different. By mid to late March, most big clubs that host racing events for fleets, including the J/105 class, began listing as “canceled” events that had been on their racing schedules. They did this for good reason, the COVID-19 pandemic.


Fleet #1 of the J/105 Class in San Francisco is the largest fleet in the country. With 57 dues paying members and 25 plus boats regularly racing, we needed to do something to keep the fleet active besides practice. After all, you don’t buy a racing one design boat like a J/105 to just day sail. Okay, for full disclosure, we actually have more than a few J/105s that do exactly that; but this article is about racing.

So, with that in mind, we needed to develop a plan to keep programs active and perhaps provide incentive to grow the racing fleet. How to do it was the question.


Earlier in the year, we had a coaching event with Quantum Sails’ Jeff Thorpe. Jeff worked with Ian Charles and produced racing exercises that were designed to improve racing skills no matter what your level of competence was.

But by early summer with no events scheduled, we knew we needed to do something more than just practice, we needed events. We needed to race. So, we began to seek a solution based around a coached series and here is what we came up with.

We could run our own races at least until the various clubs began hosting their events again. The big question was: Could we allow coaching during the series and still stay within the parameters of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) and Class Rules? How should we do this?

What we came up with was a series with more coaching provided by Jeff Thorpe of Quantum Sails. The class allowed us an exception per RRS 87 to have coaching and stay within the Class Rules. We modified on-the-water coaching to stay within the RRS and did Zoom coaching debriefs a few days later.

More Issues and Solutions

Okay, we devised a solution but wasn’t there still a Pandemic going on? How could we deal with that, especially considering that the venue we picked crossed several counties with different health guidelines.

The solution we worked out was that instead of writing specific rules to try and police compliance with a complicated set of county requirements, we simply wrote following in our racing documents:

“COVID-19 POLICY: All boats entered in this series are expected to follow state and local health requirements.”

Judges especially don’t like words like “expected” which sets an unenforceable requirement, much like using the word “may” vs. “shall”. Nevertheless, expectations needed to be set and stated publicly with the intention of preventing unnecessary protests and hearings for no-mask protests.

Still, staying healthy was important to all of us. Fortunately, in California and the San Francisco Bay area, we are allowed to participate in outside activities with masks. Mask compliance in this area has been very good. Since there were no post-racing get-togethers for trophies or drinks at a club, compliance was pretty easy for teams. Since the weather tends to be a bit chilly and windy here, wearing a mask is also good protection against the adverse effects of sun, wind and cold. We were good on this requirement too!

Next to consider was: Who was going to write the NOR, Sailing Instructions and then actually run the events? How were we going to take entries? And what about boats, marks, flags and people who knew the behind-the-curtain art of running an event? How do we secure a Race Committee? These people walk among us or so we’re told. But where do we find them?

Here Is Where They Are

US Sailing has a list of all certified race officials including PROs and Judges. Here’s the link:

For the management of the entries, bookkeeping, communications and scoring we used: Regatta Network:

And, of course, at the top of every NOR and set of Sailing Instructions you typically see: “The Organizing Authority is” (usually the club running the event). A quick read from the Racing Rules of Sailing RRS 89.1 showed how to solve that issue too. And a quick look at the US Sailing website showed how we could be an Organizational Member giving us the ability to be a regatta Organizing Authority under The Racing Rules of Sailing ($225 a year). Here’s the link:

Once we did that, we’ve got an Organizing Authority and were then entitled to write a NOR (under the RRS). We secured a PRO from the US Sailing’s list of officials and last, but certainly not least, secured a Chief Judge who would arrange a Protest Committee and solve rules issues for the competitors in a knowledgeable, fair and impartial way. Sounds good, huh? Read on.

What Actually Happened

It turned out we had fleet members with RIBS to use as coach, mark-set boats and a Signal Boat. The PRO had a long list of race committee regulars to choose from. The Chief Judge had no trouble assembling a stellar jury of all National Judges for hearings via Zoom.

Turns out the clubs were more than happy to allow us to use some of their race assets but no boats or identifying equipment. It was enough to make it all work.

How Did It All Work out

We ran three weekends of coached racing over three months. Each weekend had six races scheduled. After each weekend, we held a debrief over Zoom with a review of possible improvements including analysis of the top boats since their techniques could be applied to the mid and back of the fleet. In fact, the front of the fleet improved too. Everyone improved and as a result, most teams are suggesting that our fleet host another coached event in the early part of next year. Chief Judge, Rob Overton, held several protest hearings that left competitors shaking hands instead of heads, all done virtually via Zoom.

Here’s the link for Regatta Network for our race documents, scoring, protests, and probably everything else you might have questions about:


Find a Race Official: Officials to run the event and capable of taking insured responsibility:

Become an Organizing Authority. US Sailing Organization Membership:

Regatta Network: For everything needed to organize and communicate with competitors from an NOR to Protest Hearings and Official Notice Board: The best part of Regatta Network is Ken Taylor’s almost instantaneous tech support:

The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2021-2024:

Fleet #1 AdminKeeping One Design Racing Alive During the Pandemic
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2020 J/105 Covid Champ Take-Aways

We caught up with Tim Russell for some feedback on weekend three after he and his team on Ne*Ne won the 2020 Covid Series by a respectable points margin.

1. What did you think of our sailing conditions for the last weekend of the Covid Series (October 17-18)?

The weather for the weekend was by far the best yet! Maybe the best ever? Shorts and t-shirts (although Sunday it was a long sleeve t shirt). The flood kept the seas quiet.  I think we only took water on the deck on the close reach home after the finish. The balmy conditions behind Angel Island quickly dried them off.

2. Did any particular strategy pay off for you in prevailing over the other top boats?

With the scheduled 18 races with no throw outs we thought the winning strategy was to be conservative and not to take any flyers. We started near the favored end but never at it.  

3. Did your team try anything new to help your speed or point or boat handling – something you would share with others in the fleet?

We listened to Jeff [Thorpe] at the debriefs and studied the pictures of our set up. We concentrated on making sure our upwind settings matched the wind conditions. Sailing with a softer rig than normal seemed to help our boat speed in the lighter conditions.

4. How did you like the series as a whole? Any final comments?

Series was awesome! We experienced varying conditions from the first weekend to the last. With Jeff’s help, I thought the fleet as a whole got much faster. The series wasn’t decided until the last Sunday. Up to then, any of the top three boats could have taken it. We learned a lot about boat set up, especially in the lighter breeze. I liked how everybody got better and we were all pushing each other as we improved.

Thanks, Tim, and congratulations Ne Ne!

For full results, click here.

Fleet #1 Admin2020 J/105 Covid Champ Take-Aways
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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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