Friday the 13th and the full moon were in full effect for race four of the GGYC Friday night series. We were excited to get our Spectra mainsail back from the sail maker after some major alterations so the first thing we needed to do was get the batons back in the sail. This sounded easy enough, batons go in the sail then baton pockets get tied shut. Except for the fact that every baton ended up being too long. So the pre-race setup started with Brad taking a hacksaw to the batons. With the batons sorted we loaded up with our guest race crew and headed out to the race course.
Winds were fairly typical for a summer evening on San Francisco Bay with speeds ranging from 15-20 knots out of the West. We motored up the race course to a spot were we thought we could hoist the main. As we tried to connect the clue to the boom we realized that the sail was too short and would not reach the end of the outhaul cylinder. At this point we were about 30 minutes away from the start of the race so we kind of needed to get our sails up and head over to the start line.
The solution to a sail that was too short? Move the outhaul cylinder that hadn’t been moved since training for the 2007 America’s Cup. This involved two of us supporting the boom while Brad “convinced” the cylinder to come out of the track then back in where the clue of the sail could reach. With the clue connected we began hoisting the main, which was going well until the last six feet when the bolt rope decided to come out of the track on the mast and get stuck. 15 minutes to the start. It took three of us to pull the main down until the bolt rope went back in the track and we could finish hoisting the main. With the main up we had less than ten minutes until the start of the race and we were over by the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge with the start line off GGYC. We reached as fast as we could across the bay, hoisting the jib along the way, to get to the start line about a minute after the starting gun.
We had a great position off the start all things considered and quickly passed the rest of the fleet to reach the first windward mark well ahead of the fleet. It was on the down wind leg that we realized we could not find the next mark. Our expert navigator assured us that it was on the sailing instructions and therefore must exist. We were quickly approaching the spot where the leeward mark should be when our expert navigator radioed the GGYC race committee for clarification about this invisible mark. The GGYC confirmed that the mark was, in fact, where it should be and had been so for the past million years. The mark in question was Alcatraz. It was then that USA 76 did the fastest jybe she has done since she was raced by Oracle.
We rounded Alcatraz well in first place and picked our lane to the finish line. We crossed the finish line in 0:46:09, just over 20 minutes ahead of the second place boat. This was enough of a lead that even with our rating of -78 we corrected out to first place with four minutes to spare. Almost the entire crew joined us for well deserved drinks at the GGYC. The “Cup” was a little smaller than it looked on TV, but it is the first trophy that the boat has won since being in the charter operation and proves she is still the race machine she was built to be.
Rob Horton – Crew
June 17, 2014