Beginning of a New Era
There is not much good that can be said about 2020, it's been a challenging year and one that has required everyone to work outside their comfort zone and think outside the box. Our normal routines have been upended, but if you look closely there are possibilities for new things to emerge. In time of uncertainty, you best just play the odds. We've taken some calculated gambles this year, but before we packed up for the Midwest we had a shot at one last sailboat race in the SF Bay. The SSS Round the Rocks race is a nice Bay tour that starts us in the Berkley flats, takes us all the way near the South Tower of the Golden Gate, through the picturesque Racoon Straits in Tiburon, gives us a peak into San Pablo Bay as we round The Brothers and finishes up in the Richmond Harbor.
In any other year, one of my regular crew would have flown down to do this race doublehanded, but that wasn't going to happen this year, and further restrictions asked for doublehanded crews to be part of a household or 'social bubble'. I could always do the race singlehanded, but there was another option. My 10 yr old son had been lucky to join one of the only summer camps available this year, Encinal YC Sailing Camp. He spent 4 days a week, for six weeks sailing up and down the Oakland Estuary on a little Opti. He also joined me as crew for the Wed and Fri night races that started up mid summer in the Estuary. He has been sailing/racing on board JetStream and Outsider in the Estuary for years, but the Central Bay is a different game. After explaining to him that it would be a long day in the water, and windy and cold, he didn't hesitate when I asked him to crew for me on the race.
I'll let him tell the rest of the story:MY AROUND THE ROCKS SAILING REGATTA
It began with a cloudy morning in Alameda, California, where me and my dad were getting prepared for the biggest sailboat race of my life. I was really excited for the race to start.
When me and my dad got out to the bay, it was really windy and wavy, and then I was starting to get a little nervous. But when it got sunny I started to feel better. At that point we were still motoring out to the start. But when my dad was lifting up the mainsail, the halyard broke, but luckily we got the sail up in time.
When it was our starting sequence we started lifting up the jib (the small sail in front of the boat) and I started cranking it in. When our start was at about 30 seconds I started taking deep deep breaths, Then our start was at 20 seconds, 10 seconds, 5,4,3,2,1 and then the start horn went off. We were off to a fine start at about 4th or 5th then started working our way up the fleet slowly. When we rounded the 1st windward mark we were currently in 1st place in our fleet rounding the mark and making our way upwind to the Golden Gate Bridge.
When we rounded Blackaller my dad handed me the tiller. We were moving quickly on the reach and hit a max speed of 19 kts on our way to these two islands called The Brothers. After The Brothers I handed the tiller back to my dad.
We finally rounded Red Rock and the finish was just a few hundred yards away and still no opponent in sight, and I started feeling good I just kept saying to myself almost there Alex, almost there. Then my dad stopped the timer and we finished the race at 2:36:05. But we can’t celebrate yet because we still need to sail all the way back to Alameda in even windier conditions than at the start of the race. When we were done sailing across the bay all we needed to do was sail down the estuary, park our boat at the docks and put the boat away and fix the halyard which would take my dad the rest of the day, as I went home to get warm. The day was complete. When I got home I was really happy and proud of myself, and stuffed myself full of candy.
Still in training, but he turned out to be an excellent crew, and yes, we won our division. That will keep him coming back.