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Old Boats Rule In The Summer Of Love Great Pumpkin Pursuit


  • Old Boats Rule In The Summer Of Love Great Pumpkin Pursuit

    2017 Great Pumpkin Pursuit: Old Boats Rule

    The 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love edition of the Great Pumpkin Pursuit Race came just as the regions Indian Summer came to an abrupt end. Days of highs in the 80's on the San Francisco Bay with light tranquil winds were replaced with a stout, cold onshore wind, ushered in by a very dense fog bank, causing many to reach in the their closets for the heavy foul weather gear not worn in months.

    130 mono hulls and 17 multihull registered for the annual dash around Alcatraz and Angel Island, and when the 12:00 1st gun sounded, a majority of the boats had already read the tea leaves and decided on counter clockwise as the route du'jour . The building ebb and steady southwest winds convincing that the early exit from Raccoon Strait would be a better bet than plodding against a stronger countercurrent later.

    Right out of the start, the high rating 273 PHRF boats dashed towards Raccoon Strait in unison, 4 Cal 20's and A Yankee Dolphin gifted with a 11:53 second head start over the next single starter, and some 21 minute advantage over the next group of 168 raters.

    On an average year, the disadvantage of starting early is the winds are generally lighter and only increase as the faster boat get to the line. Not this year mister.
    2017 would give these old glass classics a jump on the competition that would be hard to relent. They rolled through Raccoon with 5 knots plus of hull speed and slid past Pt Stuart in short order, and had a direct layline for Alcatraz handed to them, the building ebb providing just the right amount of lift to sail a direct starboard crossing. Richard vonEhrenkrooks' Can of Whoopass and Peter Allen's Star Baby reaching Little Alcatraz at the same time just past 01:00. An incredible feat considering some of the ultra low rating multis had not yet even started!

    Shortly in their wake, Was Marcus Choy's Cal 20 Green Dragon, and Dick Loomis's Yankee Dolphin Old School and Paul Sutcheck's Cal 20 Slainte. The 5 high raters were well ahead of the pack of counter clockwise boats that followed and had beaten the clockwise course leaders as well, with the hard part behind them.

    Setting their kites and driving towards the finish, the fleet looked golden, only a major wind shift, rout error or sail handling error could stop the inevitable. But things change.

    Some confusion in the finish line location had the leaders driving a bit deeper than they should have, but they caught the error soon enough to correct and re adjust.
    When we caught up to the leaders, about 1 mile from the finish line, we had a chat with Richard on the Can.
    His quote: "This is our favorite part of the race, as we watch our lead evaporate and the boats come sailing in from behind us and take the lead"

    His sarcasm was not far off the mark, as we watched the leaders work the light air as best they could, while the larger low raters were getting better breeze and reeling them in.
    It was just in the final few minutes that a bit of fresh air reached the bottom of the course and pushed the leaders across in an extremely rare Cal 20 victory in this tough, but fun
    annual event.

    Richard would hold off Peter Allen's Star Baby by the smallest of margins followed closely by Commodore Fun's ( Dick Loomis) Yankee Dolphin Old School and then Marcus Choy's Green Dragon. John Kernots' Moore 24' Banditos would round out the top 5, a very impressive showing for the high raters this Halloween weekend.

    Even more impressive was Richard's status, prior to the race, as he was laid up for about a week with a nasty intestinal bug, and had to forgo his customary adult beverages during the race... But even more impressive was Peter Allen's 2nd overall in his 1st real race in Star Baby... Here's some background on Peter and the crew and the boat:
    My crew was Todd Edmister (and his son Grant). He was invaluable to our performance.

    "I have had the boat about two years, and have been sailing it for about a year, just shakedown and day sails. (It had been sitting in a backyard in Los Altos for 10 or 15 years or so when I bought it, so it needed some work - although the Jotz white sails and the DeWitt spinnaker were in good shape!) The Great Pumpkin was the first race we have done on the boat. Saturday helped us figure out we had decent boatspeed, and allowed us to dial things in a bit better. We were pretty much ecstatic with how we did on Sunday; having perfect conditions for the boat and fast competitors to race against was helpful, too.

    I learned to sail in high school in the late '70s on San Pablo Dam and Lafayette Reservoir. After that I only sailed sporadically until the late '80s, when I was living in San Diego, and I started crewing on Capri 14s and then Snipes and a Capri 22 out of Mission Bay Yacht Club. I got a Laser and Holder 20 that I raced in MBYC club races. In '92 I moved back to the Bay Area, and started regularly crewing for Nancy Pettengill on her Thunderbird "Maeve." I bought an El Toro that I raced in Richmond Yacht Club races for a few years (with notable lack of success), and I would sometimes crew on a Cal 2-27 out of Tiburon Yacht Club. For the last several years I have been a volunteer instructor in the Richmond YC junior program. (And I won't bother mentioning the short (mis)adventures with the OK Dinghy, Cape Cod Frosty, Fireball and CFJ...)"

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