A Windy Great Pumpkin Race

On Sunday October 27, USA 76 sailed once again in the Great Pumpkin Regatta hosted by Richmond Yacht Club. With winds above 20kts we set a course record for USA 76 around Angel Island and Alcatraz of just 1 hour and 15 minutes. Our previous best time for this course was 1 hour and 20 minutes. Aboard was a full complement of 19 guests, including two of our annual crew pass holders. Among our 5 crew members was special guest Andrew Coates, sailmaker for Oracle Team USA.

The start and finish line are near Richmond and the 12.5 mile course rounds Alcatraz and Angel Island in either direction. On USA 76 we chose to go counterclockwise to immediately take advantage of USA 76’s strength upwind on the beat up Raccoon Strait. This proved fortuitous because as soon as we entered the strait we encountered the Richmond Yacht Club pumpkin RIB! They were just preparing to deposit the pumpkins in the water ahead of the downwind clockwise competitors. One of the traditions of the Great Pumpkin Regatta is that extra regatta points can be earned by retrieving pumpkins from the Bay that RYC has left for the fleet. We must have been persuasive enough because the pumpkin RIB drove along side and tossed a pumpkin directly to our crew at the stern of USA 76.

Pumpkin singed by guest aboard during the Great Pumpkin Race

Pumpkin singed by guests aboard during the Great Pumpkin Race

With our prize pumpkin aboard, we proceeded to complete three tacks through the fleet of spinnakers descending through the strait. This was an early indication that the day would go in favor of the early starters. These slower boats had already completed 75% of the course just 20 minutes after our start. As we exited the strait and steered USA 76 toward Alcatraz, our speed topped 14kts. Just one more maneuver, a heavy weather jibe after Alcatraz was necessary to lay the finish line. We kept our speed up but in the strong breeze we only had 2-3kt speed advantage over much of the fleet, which was not enough to catch up. Take a look at the finish line video taken by Mike Gentry from the race committee boat.

GreatPumpkinFinish

Thank you to all the guests who joined us to make this another memorable sail.

The 2013 Great Pumpkin Regatta Crew

The 2013 Great Pumpkin Regatta Crew