The story of the 2016 redneck transpac from Gruntled. – Ditch Run 2016

Thanks to Stockton Sailing Club and Richmond Yacht Club for another Ditch Run, the always downwind 60 something miles from the San Rafael Bridge to Stockton – well, upwind when you haven’t been living right!

Predicted wind for the day was light so a big hat, plenty of beer and long-sleeved white shirt was in order. The current was to be with the fleet for the whole day so there was no reason to believe that sleeping on the green lawn of the SSC was not guaranteed and so this is how it panned out…

The mighty Moore 24 is now more than 40 years old and everyone knows they are hard to beat in very light and very heavy breeze, especially in the ditch where they gybe only half as much as some of the sporty boats.  There were 22 of them, moore than any other fleet and for good reason.

A big flood at the start line meant hiding in the eddy near the shore then dashing out to get into the river and so all the starts went. The early leaders held to the inside but it was hard to see if this was better than the around the outside track in the current. By Pt San Pablo the fastest route was still unclear but the inside boats were driving low in light breeze while the outside boats were heated in the light and so everyone met at the sugar refinery.

Carquinez Straights saw the boats to the south fade and the northern track was better. Gruntled led the Moores to Benicia but then dove to the south to avoid mud island and died. The whole fleet passed and fought each other right into a wind hole. As it often does, the new wind came from the south and we were off again, free to sail our course just ahead of the threatening pack of Moores.

Early leader Molly Noble, on borrowed #39 Further, seemed to have miscalculated the beers/mile ratio and they faded in laughter letting Moore newcomer Hogan Beatie, #26 The Jackal, slip through undetected (as they do). Also slipping through was San Diego Wabbit sailor Aaron Sturm also on a borrowed boat, Valkyrie.

The Wabbit (and the Melges 20) are quite the boats to beat in medium breeze and even before the start the Wabbits had conceded the race to the Moore.

Past the rock barges was the usual can we carry/are we going to die/ let’s hoist again/ ohh sheitee. A few Wabbits carried with big trap guy’s gettin way out there. An out-bound ship or two passed and then we were in the home stretch, you know, the one that seemingly is about half a light year! Two foiling kiteboarders came zooming past in impressive style and that broke the concentration. Focus, protect the left and don’t get rattled by the thought of all that cold beer in the cooler and the other boats stealing your wind. After a long long time the power lines of Stockton and then the floodlights of SSC came into view and the cooler was devoured.

With the boat on the trailer began the waiting game, was it going to be death from behind, you know the Whoopass with rating of 273? Was it going to be the MC Irene who was in view from C&H, was it going to be a sporty boat? Turned out to be a Moore year with overall 1, 2, 3 and then MC then sporty then death from behind. Thanks to everyone who made the redneck transpac happen in 2016.


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