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SSS Farallones: 1st Time’s the Charm

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  • SSS Farallones: 1st Time’s the Charm

    MC Irene churning home from the Farallones

    In the world of sailboat racing, preparation is key in any long-term success. The more you know about your boat, it’s abilities and limitations, the better. The more you know about the infinite conditions mother nature can throw at you in the way of sea state, wind and visibility, another asset. The more you know about yourself, and your own abilities and limitations, can be downright critical.

    This weekend, Mother Nature set up another round of extreme conditions, walloping the Bay and offshore seas with bone chilling winds in the 25-30 knot range with higher gusts. A handful for those sailing with crew inside the gate. A major testament to will for those venturing outside. Especially alone.

    And especially for the 1st time.

    Of the 38 boats that had signed up to participate in the Single Handed Sailing Societies annual pilgrimage to the Devils Teeth, aka The Farallones, most of the skippers entered with bundles of singlehanded sailing already under their belt. But there are exceptions.

    Zach departs RYC on his 1st solo outing Saturday morning, the legendary Single Handed Farallones

    Participating in his 1st Single Handed Farallones Race, and his 1st single handed race ever, Zachary Anderson entered with heaps of offshore experience, all with crews and even some shorthanded sailing with his partner Will Paxton, but this, would be his 1st go alone on their Express 27 Motorcycle Irene.

    The two are entered in this years Pacific Cup, which they will race double handed. Their other shared boat, the modified canting keel Shock 40’ Velvet Hammer was already scheduled to race in the YRA Summer Series later the same day, so what gives? “We had discussed the opportunity before in passing” Says Will “And I half kiddingly suggested it would be good practice for him, after all, double handing to Hawaii is really single handing it with sleep breaks, so it’s good to know what you can do by yourself. Zach sort of took it as a challenge, and decided to go for it”

    Motorcycle Irene has been going through heaps of offshore workouts with the two aboard, and has been modified into shorthanded mode by fellow crew members, Evelyn Hull, James Clappier and Easom Rigging to get all the electronics, sails and running rigging ready for the July Pac Cup Start, so the SHF seemed a no brainer.

    Zach during the 150nm Pac Cup Qualifier

    “My plan was to go out there and survive, this is practice for Pac Cup. My goal all week was let's pretend this is the Pac Cup start. We had passed our Pac Cup safety inspection on Friday before, so I wanted to sail the boat fully outfitted. But, as usual, when the warning gun went off, I switched from survival to "I am not letting those guys beat me mode” Zachary admits.

    With a full-on ebb pushing against 25 knots plus at the start, the boats that did decide to venture out were in for a handful. With winds WNW in the 18 -25 and frigid 50 degree 5’-6’ swell slapping the skippers as they passed Bonita and entered the open ocean, decision to soldier on was mind over matter. “ It got a little lighter on the way out. I started with a reef and the number three. Shook the reef at about 10 miles from the rocks” Zach recalls. “It was a beautiful day to be on the ocean. I have never spent 12 hours on the boat without going below.”

    The ride would get a tad bit more interesting as the afternoon progressed, with Zach launching the A-5 for the 1st time solo after rounding the stinky rocks. And then things piped up a bit as MC Irene worked it way back: ”First time I have been scared on a boat in a long time. Blowing 25k. On the bow of the Express preparing the kite and taking down the jib with the auto helm on and then broaching…Green water over my head… Slide/ run to the back of boat to get the bow going in the right direction… the kite pops and away we went… 15 kts of boat speed surfing….”

    Wind would continue to build and it became evident that the stretch of water from Bonita to the Golden Gate would be a tad more boisterous… Zach would tuck in behind Bonita and attempt his 1st solo takedown. A quantified success, with the kite tucked away, it was onward to the finish, winds inside the bay now in the solid 30’ and gusts to 40 knot range. “Completely nuking on the Bay,” Zach grins “ The last 5 miles to Richmond was a full on E-Ticket ride”

    Zachary and MCI would finish behind a well-seasoned single-handed sailor, Robert MacDonald on his Olson 29 Nina 09:14:23 to 09:37:04 elapsed but would correct out to 09:12:25 to Nina’s 09:15:14 for his 1st division win in his 1st single handed Farallones race!
    Mission complete:
    Morale: Good
    Boat: Good
    Confidence: Sublime
    Stoke: Pegged at MAX…

    Other winners on the day:
    Clifford Shaw would win the Multihull division uncontested aboard Rainbow, the 10m Crowther Trimaran. 08:24:31 corrected
    In Non-Spin PHRF 02 Bill Nork onboard his Island 36’ Zenith with corrected time of 09:10:32
    Spin 162 Plus: Jan Hirsh, Islander 30-1 Sweet Pea, 09:44:33 corrected
    Spin 111-159: Jim Quanci, Cal 40 Green Buffalo, 08:06:16 corrected
    Spin 108 and under: Jib Martens Worth 40 Freedom, 08:32:57 corrected

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Nice rookie run!


    • #3
      Nice work, Mr Anderson!


      • #4
        Way to go!

        Now if mother nature would just turn back the velocity dial a tad.


        • #5
          From no wind mid-winters to excessive wind spring.

          What will summer bring? Shark-nadoes?