6 and 7 of  JUNE
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We arrived at the St Francis Yacht Club just after the start of the briefing.
The 327 mile drive had been a bit tough after a late night at work.
I was paying attention to the briefing amidst the crowd of hard core kiters and windsurfers that makes the Bay so special.
On the race deck of the StFYC, the wind was blowing hard already.
We moved to a room and the race officer, Paul Heineken explained the course on a map of the Bay. No restrictions on the downwind or the upwind leg. The course area is the Bay and you sail at your own risks.  The course itself is very simple: start line near the StFYC, round the upwind mark near the Golden Gate Bridge, giant downwind leg to Berkeley, round a buoy there by eastern most gap in the pier and back to the finish line by the StFYC.
Back to the beach there was no time to waste with less than one hour to the start.
Just after noon, the wind was not too strong yet so I decided to rig up 9.0, only to find that the wind picked up 30 minutes before the start. Never mind, with only one sail rigged up, I had to make it work.
I had a good start which is always nice, even for a long race.
My angle was good which was also nice considering I was a bit over powered on the 9.0.
I rounded the upwind mark in a good position.
The downwind leg was trickier. The water was super choppy in places and the gusts were reaching 30 mph so you had to stay alert. Steve Bodner was going well with the 90 cm wide board. He passed both Tom Purcell and myself. None of us were prepared to break away from the pack so we all followed each other South of Alcatraz towards the city front.
We gybed before the wind got light near the city front and started the port leg towards Berkeley.
This leg goes on forever. The water is really choppy there. The board keeps going down one short wave after the other. Chris Radkowski got close to me. I just kept going steadily to be safe.
I rounded the leeward mark in second place just behind Tom Purcel. At that point, I thought I’d better put my foot down on the upwind leg. I dived down below Tom, got good speed and steamed ahead. My lead was good at the end of the long port leg towards Angel Island.
I tacked on port, heading towards the city front. I could see Tom and Eric behind.
I kept an eye on Eric to see if he was going to go North of Alcatraz. When he tacked on port again to take this option, it was too late for me to go so I decided to keep going to the city front.
The tacks near the city front didn’t feel great. I was getting headed most of the time with lulls in quite a few places. Eric got really close in the end. He must have made several minutes by going North of Alcatraz. I managed to tack just ahead of him. It was just on the lay line for me so I had to focus to make it back to finish in one leg. That was not the most glorious way to win but it was a safe tactic to stay in front which it did by just one minute after about 90 minutes of racing!
The Race Committee decided to start with three course races. The last race was going to be an elongated triangle with two long reaches across the Bay to the Harding rock buoy. That was just as well as I hadn’t brought my slalom kit. That close call reminded me to read the Notice Of Race carefully before driving 340 miles!
The wind was picking up nicely so I decided to rig up smaller than the day before. It really paid off as I was comfortable this time, even in the Crissy gusts which can be really strong. Following a good night of sleep, I had good speed and angle right off the start line. Even downwind, the sail was working great. I had no trouble pointing downwind even when the chop was getting nasty downwind of the St Francis Yacht Club. I won the first three races with a good margin. The Race Committee announced that the last race was going to be on the same course. That suited me as I didn’t want the racing to drag on before the long drive home. I misjudged the lay line in the first upwind of the last race. I ended up behind after double tacking to make it to the upwind mark. I put my foot down downwind to catch up. I gybed a bit further North than Eric. The move paid off as I caught up by avoiding going broad at the end of the downwind where the wind goes a bit light with big chop. I had good speed upwind so I ended up winning that last race with a good margin as Eric was busy covering Tom to get second place overall.
 The prize giving ceremony is always great at the St Francis Yacht Club. The venue is really grand and the Bay Challenge always has epic stories. This year was no exception. Johnny Heineken entertained us with the story of wrapping his kite around the mast of a yacht near their start line during his upwind leg. He had to climb up the mast to retrieve his kite and got picked up by a rescue boat of the StFYC. As stories go, this one will definitely stay in the history of the Bay Challenge!

Thanks again to the StFYC for running the classic race. The spirit of the Challenge lives on.