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Sir Francis Chichester Race Around Alameda

July 9, 2013 by jarndt
Sir Francis Chichester Race Around Alameda

Summer Sailstice generates an ecclectic mix of ways to celebrate sailing.  In 2013 one way was for the Northern California Laser Fleet to resurrect a long-lapsed classic, the Sir Francis Chichester Regatta, a 16-mile Laser race around the island of Alameda.  NorCal Sailing picks up the story from here:

British adventurer Francis Chichester was the first solo circumnavigator to circle globe making only one stop (in Sydney, Australia), from Plymouth, UK, via the Great Capes in 1966-67 on his yawl Gipsy Moth IV.* As a tribute to Chichester, who was promptly knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, a bunch of Laser sailors came up with the idea of a circumnavigation – solo of course – of Alameda Island. The race was popular since its inception in 1972 (the year of Chichester's death) through the early '90s, but was all but forgotten until this year, when another batch of Laser sailors decided to resurrect it as an event in June 22's Summer Sailstice celebration, which just happens to be hosted by Encinal YC on that same island.

The problem with circumnavigating Alameda by sailboat, even a dinghy, is that there are four low bridges in the way. Counter-clockwise from the south they are Bay Farm Island Bridges over San Leandro Bay and the High Street Bridge, Fruitvale Bridge and Park Street Bridge to Oakland. All of them are opening bridges – but the rules of the Chichester forbid requesting bridge openings. So various creative methods are employed to get under them, the most popular of which is capsizing and drifting on the current to get through while riding on the daggerboard to keep the boat from turtling.

The rules state that, "Within 3 boatlengths of any of the four bridges that must be passed in a circumnavigation, a sailor may move their body to propel the boat. Any body movements are permitted: Ooching, pumping, rocking, sculling, swimming, pulling by hand along the shore, walking or clambering on shore towing the boat by its bowline. Competitors may not use tools to augment their body movements, such as paddles, poles, pitons or fins." And, "Competitors may not ask bridge operators to raise a bridge."  Complete stories and photos at NorCal Sailing.

More information was posted by competitor Nick Burke here.

Commodore Thompkins.  All Photos NorCal Sailing


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