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2010 Three Bridge Fiasco

Please go here for an explanation of last year's Three Bridge Fiasco.

I have shamelessly borrowed information and pictures from several blogs on the subject.

I've also borrowed images from the Sailing Anarchy 'On The Water' coverage of the race..

This first picture lays out the 'Clockwise' course for the Three Bridge Fiasco. This was created (last year) by the owner of Temerity, an Olson 34, and published in his blog, Never Sea Land.

This second picture is from the website of Valis, a boat that is competing in this years race. The owner of Valis went on the SailingAnarchy website and directed other members to the Valis site, so I'm going to go out on a limb and consider the pictures in the public domain.

These are the tidal currents at 10:00 am on Saturday, Jan. 30th. Those BIG arrows represent the strength of the Flood tidal currents, the water rushing into San Francisco through the Golden Gate. Notice they are big in the center of the bay, and heading east. The smaller arrows along the shore represent much slower currents. Valis isn't part of GOTWAW (yet?), but I want to tip my hat to them for making these charts publicly available. Valis is a 44 ft boat with a PHRF rating of 126 sailing in the double handed 3 division. She starts at 10:17:15 am. So this chart shows what the tidal currents are doing just prior to her start time.

The GOTWAW photo album '3BF Current Charts (from Valis)' is the complete set of current charts from the Valis web site.

Each chart represents the tidal currents at 30 minute intervals throughout the day. There is a triangle on each chart that shows the three turning points for the race. The size of the pictures aren't big enough to show the detail above, but the stronger currents do show up pretty well in the photo album.

This is what makes the Three Bridge Fiasco such an interesting race. The competitors must go around each of the three points of the triangle, but they can decide to go in any order. They can even double back on their course. All of the 350+ boats have no more than two people on board.

At this time of the year, the wind strength is usually very light, so the decision is usually based on what the tidal currents are doing throughout the day. For the 2010 race the conventional wisdom is to get to the Golden Gate Bridge first, then up to Red Rock near the Richmond/San Rafael bridge. It is crucial to get to Red Rock before the currents reverse. On Saturday, this reversal takes place at noon.

We shall see what happens.


Sunday morning and the wrap up continues:

This is the GPS track of the Flying Tiger 'Centomiqlia', Sail #15. They headed east, and the Got Wind and Water Photo Boat followed (sort of).

From the Start, they arc'd North and East to get into the flow of water coming through the Golden Gate bridge and heading east and south through the western span of the Bay Bridge. Around Yerba Buena Island, then north along the East side of Treasure Island. As they approached Red Rock at the top of the picture, they had to zig zag, gybing their spinnaker to make progress against a heavy Ebb Tidal flow that was (by this time) building. This Ebb swept down from San Pablo Bay and once Centomiqlia got around Red Rock, they went with the flow.

It carried them southward through Raccoon Straights to the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge to go around Blackaller Bouy. From there they had to fight this flow of water to get to the finish line in front of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

If you look closely, you can see that their track takes them very close to the shoreline.


And now for something different -

In the Fiasco, you can go Clockwise, or you can go Counter Clockwise. But if you want to you can ignore these 'standard' strategies and do something completely different.

Valis started and headed north, avoiding the upwind battle to Blackaller in light winds against the current and went East, just like Centomiqlia. But instead of going Counter Clockwise, they headed 'up river', riding the strong Flood north as well. The strategy was to get to Red Rock before the Flood stopped and the Ebb began. After getting around Red Rock, they headed south, against the wind and against the last of the Flood.

They went down the East side of Treasure Island and rounded Yerba Buena in the standard clockwise direction.

From there they were able to go with the flow and ride the ebb up through the 'slot', the area between Alcatraz and Angel Island. Rounding Blackaller at the southern end of the Golden Gate bridge, they then stayed close to the shoreline to finish the race.

Valis, by the way, has a very entertaining blog, which you can see here.

They entered one of the doublehanded divisions, so the captain of Valis, was joined by a dedicated Crew. This crewmember (EVK4) just happens to write one of the most celebrated sailing blogs on the planet (when he is not being a swim dad (similar to a soccer mom).


I'm hoping to get a similar GPS track from a boat that went the 'standard' Clockwise direction. Drew Harper on the Viper Boomslang choose that strategy and it did not pay off, or did it?

When the results of the race are published, I'll update this 'About' page and we'll be able to compare each of these strategies.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
How to edit your RSVP comment July 10, 2010 11:29 AM John
You are now an Event Organizer . . . Now What June 10, 2010 9:17 AM John
How do the "I'm racing, are you?" events work? April 18, 2010 8:33 PM John
Video Archive July 13, 2010 2:19 PM John
Another Rant February 19, 2010 4:21 PM John
One of John's rants - February 19, 2010 1:33 PM John
Our Old About Page February 15, 2010 9:37 PM John
Our New Info Page February 15, 2010 9:42 PM John
Format Changes February 13, 2010 9:53 AM John
3 Bridge Fiasco Video February 5, 2010 10:59 AM John
How We Assign Titles February 2, 2010 4:03 PM John
2010 Three Bridge Fiasco February 1, 2010 10:57 AM John

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