Sausalito Yacht Club’s Chili Midwinters
With a PHRF 0f 174 on San Francisco Bay, the Nonsuch is definitely not a racing boat. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be raced. And I’m not talking about as a One Design–that’s a whole other kettle of fish. How would it do in a Handicap race?
Makani is fitted out for cruising. The biggest drawback to racing is that she has a 35# anchor on her bow and 300′ of chain in the chain locker. A lot of weight. If this were a traditional design it would be easier enough to open the chain locker and pull out the chain before a race. Can’t do that on a Nonsuch. I could use the windlass and run out the chain on the dock and put it in the dock box, and I may do that in the future, but I didn’t do that for now.
The other drawback is that the YRA here stipulates that Nonsuches and Wylie Cats must race in the Spinnaker class. Boats in that class are usually more fitted out for racing that cruising.
With all that being taken into consideration, after serving on the Sausalito Yacht Club Race Committee for over ten races, I felt it was time to sail Makani in one of the club’s races. They have a Spring Series and Summer Series on Tuesday nights and a Midwinter Series on Sundays. The Spring and Summer are in typical blustery San Francisco Bay conditions. The Midwinters are in typical Winter SF Bay conditions–unpredictable, usually light, and stronger than usual tides and currents.
I chose to enter the second Midwinter which was on Sunday, December 4. We were in the Spinnaker Class for boats with a PHRF rating over 100. My son Jason agreed to race with me. As promised in the Midwinter’s, at Noon, the time of the first gun, there was no wind.
After one hour and 20 minutes the Postpone signal went down and the first class to race got its warning. We are the third class to go off (SYC uses rolling starts). Unfortunately for us, there was also a strong flood that pushed us too far away from the line. Even with the engine on we couldn’t get close enough to the line before our warning and turning off the engine. We started six minutes late in light air.
Big lesson from the first upwind leg: in light air don’t try to point too high. It seems to be much better to foot off a little for better speed even though you may add distance. It was very disheartening to see a sloop rigged 30 footer with a similar rating blow past us upwind. But then came the good news: we were great downwind. We sailed a rhumb line course from the windward mark to the jibe mark at a decent speed. No jibing necessary and sailed the shortest possible course.
As we made the turn to head back up wind we got a call that my granddaughter, Jason’s daughter, was running a high fever and had to be taken to the doctor. Called the RC, told them we were withdrawing, motored back to the dock, met the baby at the doctors and everything turn out fine.
It also turned out that most of the boats that stayed in the race didn’t finish — the wind died again.
I don’t think the our Nonsuch, outfitted as it is, will ever sail to its PHRF numbers in a traditional Windward/Leeward race. HOWEVER, the SYC has a number of untraditional races, e.g., the Twin Island Race Series, which goes from a starting line, to a mark, then your choice for which direction to take around Angel Island and Alcatraz, back to the mark then a finish at the club. A race like that will have longer offwind and reaching legs. Perfect for the Nonsuch 30U Makani!