The Great Vallejo Race from the Viewpoint of one of the participants (the sailing vessel Zingara) as told to Maribeth
After a great, clean start (thank you VYC for one of the clearest start sequences from start to finish that I have ever had the pleasure of being part of), my crew and I made our way up ye olde San Francisco Bay, avoiding Berkely pier, Red Rock, Castro Rock, and all the other rocks yet to be named. I heard my crew talking about the history of some of these rocks and apparently you have to hit a rock to get it named after you, and I’m not really interested in that kind of notoriety. I am a LADY after all, though Zingara Rock has a certain exotic ring to it. We were hoping for strong winds and favorable currents. I’ve gotten all gussied up during the short off-season and am ready to race, even a primarily downwind race, which isn’t particularly my favorite (when will they EVER learn to set that pole more gently). Us non-spin folk just have to muddle through somehow. One of my crew members is trying to campaign for me to get a big red chute with a gypsy woman on it and realizes she’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’ from Steve and Jocelyn everytime she mentions it, but I think it could be a lot of fun.
I like to go fast, like any Italian gypsy woman would, so Saturday was a bit of a struggle, though I felt a little less guilty because the light and shifty winds did have one upside: a rare warm race weekend for the Bay area, one I’ll be pining for come the howling winds of summer. This gave me a chance to post for some glamour shots of my new head sail for the crew calendar, which will be chock full of pictures of my crew showing much more skin than a normal Bay lady would approve of (by which I mean we were in shorts and T-shirts, how scandalous).
I was trying to work with my crew, desperately distracting them from thinking about all of carousing going on without them at the VYC, giving them hints that we should try putting that pole up one more time and we would make some sort of forward progress up into the estuary. It worked, kind of, and we crossed the finish with everyone still speaking to each other. Once we got to the VYC, the somewhat chaotic but apparently methodical herding of the boats began. Coordinating a raft up for 150+ boats can be a tricky deal, but I made it through almost without a scratch, though that muddy harbor was not exactly my idea of a boat spa. My crew finally got to chance, relax, and enjoy a couple of cocktails while I hung out with a couple of Beneteaus, a Cal and a Tartan. It’s always a show during a post race raft up, you make lots of new friends and hope they wore their non-marking party shoes. We only saw 1-2 people go into the drink, thank goodness none of my people were involved in any of that.
Sunday morning my crew and I were up bright and early, enjoyed a warm breakfast in the sun and hoped that the 15-20 boats that decided they could TOTALLY fit in the VYC harbor after we tied up weren’t aground (no such lucky there). We left the raft up without any trouble and cruised around the river for a while, waiting for our start and trying to avoid clogging up the line and finally got underway. I didn’t particularly appreciate the VYC race committee’s comment after our 1300 start. “All Islander 36s are clear. In fact, more than clear.” Hey buddy, you want us to go over early and have to do a 360 in the midst of your start sequence in an area just a few football fields wide? I didn’t think so, smarty pants.
Up and down with the pole, wing on wing, rinse and repeat until we were near/in San Pablo Bay and then ahhhhh…. great sail trim and sustained winds kept me pretty close hauled the rest of the way down to San Rafael. The warm weather still held, even though we had a good amount of breeze for pretty much the entire race, and my crew got the chance to really tinker with sail trim, not to mention perform a couple of well timed tacks that helped keep me from getting stuck in the mud.
I crossed the line with plenty of sunshine and wind to spare to keep us cruising on home until we hit Angel Island. I prefer the jacuzzi tub, not the washing machine kind of trip through the slot, but no such luck this weekend. The wind died just before the Bay Bridge, as per usual, and I was still a little hungover from the night before and couldn’t get my engine to turn over. After a few more attempts at starting me up, an extensive reading of a diesel engine manual, and a gin and tonic later, (not necessarily in that order) we happened upon a wind line and started to make progress south. I decided I needed a night in the city to collect myself before the riproaring ride back down to Coyote Point. I deposited my crew on the dock of South Beach harbor, gave them money for Caltrain and bid them arrivederici and told Jocelyn (one of my 2 skippers, the other one Steve) I’d be up bright and early in the morning ready for the trip back home after a quick once over by Drake Marine, which is the boat equivalent of putting cucumbers over your eyelids and taking a long bath. My batteries were dead (maybe it was the margeritas Saturday night). So Jocelyn took me back to my slip at Coyote Point Marina on smooth water with both of us listening to Lady Gaga and Adele.
I might have heard a little bit of grumbling, but sailing is always an adventure, and you’d think that they would have learned that by now. One thing they did learn, and I agree with, is that the Great Vallejo Race is a wonderful experience.
Can’t wait for the Interclub race this Saturday. See you at the start line!
P.S. We didn’t do so well on Saturday–came in last in the non-spin I-36 group, but made up for it on Sunday with a 2nd place finish!