Rocketeering – 60 mile in Bay Race

Yesterday was Island Yacht Club’s annual race, The Silver Eagle, a 60 mile SF Bay tour. I was fortunate enough to sail aboard the Rocket 88, a custom 33 foot catamaran from Santa Cruz. After a quick and early sail from Richmond to the start line off of Golden Gate Yacht Club, I realized that I was in for quite an experience. We were 1 of 3 cats racing (us, a VX 40 and an SL 33) and being the smallest and oldest, we had our work cut out for us. Our start was at 1030 in a foggy gusty mess. Our first destination was the Blackaller mark, just below the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, and after a few close calls with the keel boats that started before us, we let the throttle loose and set our gennaker. Keeping in tight formation with the VX 40 and the SL 33 (whose rig was just as tall as the VX 40) we gybed around our next mark atop of Angel Island. A quick douse and then a tight jib reach headed us back towards the City Front. This leg was my first taste of what a big high performance catamaran can do. Easily averaging 20 knots, we made the miles disappear. Having the smallest rig, we were able to straight line to our mark where as the two big cats got too overpowered and had to sail extra distance. Another quick gybe around the Blossom Rock mark and another tight reach across put us in the North Bay. The boat races 3 up, and as the main trimmer I was soon feeling the effort put in over the miles, which flew by behind us. Soon the wind went aft and we re-deployed the gennaker to sail down the San Pablo. A dozen light air gybes later, we rounded in hot pursuit of the big cats. Crossing an outbound tanker we sailed back to the main bay. As we passed the Richmond/San Rafael bridge for the second time, we passed all the keel boats still an entire leg behind. After a 3rd reach across the bay, we found ourselves in significantly more breeze. Focus was the key to keep the bows out of the water. The South Bay turned out to be the windiest part of our trip. After a quick zig-zag around, we were in reach of the bigger cats. Another dozen gybes down the Alameda/Oakland Estuary and we finished at 2:45, just behind the SL 33. Results are not posted, but after corrected time, 1st place seems very likely. All in all, it was a fun and fast race. Every experience I have on a catamaran makes me understand the power behind these boats, and how to control it. That being said, each experience makes me feel like I’m ready to sail even bigger and faster cats. I’m ready, and needless to say, I’m stoked to further sail multi-hulls.

I managed to get some great go-pro footage, so stay tuned for a video from the Rocket 88!

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