Surviving St. Clair

By Josh Adams

Come on, autopilot. Don’t fail me now. Time is running out before my start in the PHRF B class of the 40-mile St. Clair Solo race. So far, the way things are going in the pre-start on board Taz, a borrowed Tartan Ten, my first solo race is turning into the Debacle in Detroit.

After punching in commands for the pilot to make a 40-degree turn into the eye of the wind, I move forward in the cockpit to shake a reef out of the main; the strong northwester generated by a fast-moving low-pressure system has dropped to under 20 knots, and my class competitors (two Abbott 33s and a Kirby 33) are carrying full main. In my final stride to the halyard winches my attached tether goes taut, tugging me to the cockpit floor just as the boat swings through the wind and unexpectedly turns to a run. There’s no time to figure out what went wrong with the pilot (operator error, I figure) as three boats approach me from three different directions, with no helmsman in sight on any of them. I disengage the pilot, hand-steer to avoid a collision with a Corsair 31, a J/41, and the Kirby, and sail away from traffic to gather my thoughts. The 5-minute gun sounds as storm clouds darken the morning sky. This is obviously going to be a long day.

Read on: St.ClairSolo

2005 Shorthanded Racing Schedule

April 16
Singlehanded Farallones Race, Golden Gate YC, San Francisco, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

May 29 Faraday Mill OSTAR, Royal Western Yacht Club, Plymouth, England; www.faradaymillostar2005.co.uk

June 3
Bermuda One-Two (solo start), Newport YC, Newport, RI; www.bermuda1-2.org

June 4
In the Bay Race (solo/double), Corinthian YC, Tiburon, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

June 16
Start of Bermuda One-Two (doublehanded leg), St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club, St. Georges, Bermuda; www.bermuda1-2.org

June 18
Port Huron to Mackinac Island Singlehanded Challenge
Chicago to Mackinac Island Singlehanded Challenge
(also Super Mac race); www.solosailor.org

July 9
Half Moon Bay Race (solo/double), Golden Gate YC, San Francisco, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

August 6
Trans-Superior Singlehanded Challenge (tentative);

September 9
Lake Michigan Solo Scramble; www.solosailor.org

September 10
Lower Lake Huron Solo; www.solosailor.org

September 10
East Bay Estuary Race, Richmond YC, Richmond, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

October 1
St. Clair Solo & Big Al’s Steak Roast, Bayview YC, Detroit, MI; www.solosailor.org

October 8
Vallejo 1-2 (solo start), Berkeley Circle, San San Francisco, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

October 9
Vallejo 1-2 (doublehanded start), Vallejo Yacht Club, Vallejo, CA; www.sfbaysss.org

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