GCBSR live!

The GCBSR starts at 1330 October 14th. If the wind forecast holds it will be a broad reach. With more than enough wind. Watch it live here

Breaking news


At the start the wind was ESE 15 and within a short time has gone to WSW and lightened.

This armchair sailing can be interesting. Time to put another log on the fire.

Armchair racin'

Neat being able to watch the race on computer. Did you set this up Al? I cant believe I'm home and dry for a change! See you in Portsmouth tomorrow?

Armchair racin'

Nope, it weren't my doin' but I like it. I've set my alarm clock to awaken me on a regular basis throughout the night to keep tabs on things. Right now it looks like the've run out of breeze the way the fleet is bunching up. I count 31 schooners.

Sorry I won't see you in Portsmouth. I'm takin' a little sabbatical from the GCBSR this year and doin' my fall sailin' up here in Mass. Bay. It's no worse weatherwise here than what we had in last year's GCBSR.

Here are a couple links with information on the race and the participating schooners:

GCBSR Website

Spinsheet Race Program

I see you're still awake

Yo Barnacle Bill - here's what I'm seeing

Class leaders at 2340

AA PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, approaching Windmill Point, then SUMMERWIND
A WOODWIND, followed by HERON and PROM QUEEN (joined at the hip)
B SALLY B. approaching Smith Point

RIP HUDNER is a lttle 30 ft open sharpie from Outward Bound. With her handicap she could well be first in C on corrected time. There are two other tiny schooners in C that bear watching - TOM SWIFT and ARTIST PROOF.

I've done this race six times in my boat and I have to say this web watching by the fireside has its advantages.

Yup, I'm awake

I suspect that things will pick up as the night progresses. Judging by the speeds of some of the vessels in the southern part of the track things are getting a bit dicey for the little guys as you get off the Potomac. Quintessence must be "laying down for a bet" or something.

Class C suspense

0830 Oct 15th Some interesting things going on here. I am no longer naming boats now for strategic reasons. Check the tracks.

Too many mysteries

Armchair sailin’ has its fine points, but the data displayed by the ‘eyes in the sky’ have left a lot of gnawing questions. My all-night tracking vigil supplemented with internet wind forecasts and actual buoy data did provide a degree of vicarious racing, but a telephone report I received from a Class C skipper has added details that can only be obtained when there are feet on the deck, so-to-speak. He had tales of an abrupt total loss of wind at the start, and later off Cedar Point, the sudden arrival of a very powerful cold front that shredded a sail. Then, beyond Point Lookout, violent rolling in short steep seas as he crossed the Potomac, which the Nor’wester was piling into the Chesapeake. (That seems familiar.) I believe that’s where he fractured his fore gaff. He told of another Class C boat that broke a pinrail and set the halyards flying. It was rougher there than the 2007 race he said, and that one had taken quite a toll on his boat and crew. There have been other unsubstantiated damage reports on some of the AA schooners.

I received a private communication from Barnacle Bill who has unselfishly set aside his schedule to attend today’s Oyster & Pig Roast in Portsmouth to glean more details. And Jim Davis, how about some word from you? And anybody else.


If you go to the GCBSR website you'll find a link that will enable you to replay the race. If I had only had known during my all night vigil I could have taken a refrigerator break.

I gave it a quick look and was able to correlate a particular boat's speed increase with information provided by the skipper about a sail change.

The final results are posted

The final results are posted on the GCBSR site
http://www.schoonerrace.org/results10.htm and

I was not on the race but Sandy checked in by phone during the night. She was on Prom Queen. I was out at the start where the wind wasn't real heavy, but the rain was, sometimes the visibility down to a hundred yards or so. Then the wind laid down for a while, only to come back strong with the frontal passage. I've heard of blown sails, especially spinnakers and other gear failures, but I really can't give any specifics. Most of what I'm hearing confirms that the mouth of the Potomac isn't a good place to be when a NW wind comes in, especially when the tide is flooding. I'm sure more will come out and this coming weekend's Cambridge Schooner Rendezvous will have some good stories.

Jim and Sandy Davis
S/V Isa Lei

race ruin

After appropriately gorging on perfectly roasted oysters and delicious roast pig I did a quick survey of damage to the fleet. Martha White seems to have damaged sails and spars. Meerwald's main gaff sheared off about 5 feet back from the jaws. Farewell lost a pinrail. Quintessence split her foregaff and blew out the spinnaker that Al Bezansen used last year. I'm sure that others got a bit banged up as well. I'll probably go down
to Bivalve to help with repairs on Meerwald this week. Paul patched up Quintessence in no time flat and is hopefully well on his way back to NJ.

The race, plus getting there and home again

Well on his way back to NJ you say? At this moment QUINTESSENCE is a bit N of Chincoteague, with a headwind and without power, bound for Barnegat. I know this from his SPOT tracker. Getting to this race and home again in a little boat can be interesting to say the least. He had a devil of a time getting to Baltimore as well.

So yes, the GCBSR can be quite an adventure, but that ain't the half of it.

Linda's halyard malfunction

I had been observing the C class boats closely, and noticed an odd blip in FAREWELL's track during the race. The cause has now been revealed by Barnacle Bill's observation of the fractured pinrail. So there you go - eyes in the sky accompanied by feet-on-the-ground at the Pig Roast gives us the real story.

Hate it when those halyards go horizontal. It was night though, so this is merely heresay. But the track was surely zig-zag, and it was at a time when the breeze was coming on stronger.

Halyard malfunction... more details

Footnote... Jan 4,2011 Apparently Armchair Racin’ has caught on…. there were over 6000 such types viewing the GCBSR on the tracking website. Some might be interested in these additional details about what took place down on the water.

Here’s a report I just obtained from the skipper of QUINTESSENCE. In his words, “When the sudden blast came at the onset of the frontal passage it disintegrated our spinnaker. Then, with a new unobstructed view, we found ourselves only a couple boat lengths astern of FAREWELL. It was dark but we could make out a figure climbing the mainmast and maneuvering all the way out to the end of the gaff. This might seem like quite a feat, but FAREWELL was heeled with her port rail awash. The real trick was when the figure went on to inch hand-over-hand out along the halyards which were streaming horizontal from the force of the wind. Cantilevered, you might say. As the silhouette, backlit by the moon, progressed out over the water there was no mistaking it belonged to Captain Linda herself. It took quite some time but she edged out far enough to get a grip on the pinrail, then reversed her travel all the way back down to the deck, secured it, and with the aid of her crew got a proper third reef into the main.” He went on, “I thought this was pretty impressive but I kept quiet about it at the Pig Roast since Linda gave it no mention and I worried that if it became known FAREWELL might have been protested for having her captain leave the boat during the race.”

When I asked the skipper why he isn’t saving this story for the ASA Meeting in Mystic he indicated there would be many more accounts coming out there.

Corrected race results posted

The race results for Class C were corrected yesterday. They are not as announced previously at the Awards Ceremony.

QUINTESSENCE now has two firsts and a third in her three races.

First timer RIP HUDNER was 11-1/2 minutes behind Q on corrected time. Her elapsed time was very impressive - third after speedy FAREWELL and SUSAN B MERRYMAN.

On corrected time FAREWELL, SUSAN B MERRYMAN and CELEBRATION were very close - a big improvement for CELEBRATION.

Fellow septuagenarian Pete Carroll in LIBERTATE trailed HUDNER by three minutes, elapsed time.

And NORFOLK REBEL reached Windmill Point in only 14h43m! I wasn't there to see if she had hoisted her tires out of the water.

Corrected Race Results

Sally B's bottom?

A couple years ago Dan MacLeod launched SALLY B barely in time for the race - with some enhancements to her underbody. The welds hadn't even cooled when she was launched. Whatever he did resulted in an impressive increase in speed. Now, this year, he wins the Howdy Bailey belt buckle for the second year in a row, averaging seven knots all the way down the course. I had him in my sights at the bottom of the tracking chart for the whole race. Wondering if SALLY had more bottom surgery.

Story on the GCBSR finish line

The finish line for the GCBSR, 127 miles down the course, is this lighthouse. Today's Virginia Pilot published a short history of the light. It was once set afire by a schooner. Unintentionally, and it was not one of ours.

Thimble Shoal Light

New tactical advisory service

A new service in 2011 for GCBSR participants — racing strategy via text messaging. For the coming race I will again be stationed in my armchair with a global view of all the boats. As a six-time participant I have some experience to share with any skippers who may be interested. Timely text messages will be sent to those signing up. Here are some examples of typical priority alerts.

4U360 Luff everything quick or you’ll be over the starting line early

AS++ Add more sail, whatever you’ve got, the fleet is leaving you

YST-5 You should have tacked five minutes ago

MS-- Double-reef the main now. Before you reach the Potomac.

WX+REV When NOAA says NW 20 to 25 kt add ‘em together

And for Premium Members only

CRASH You are about to sail into a fish trap

I have firsthand knowledge of all the above. To sign up look for me at the ASA Annual Meeting this weekend. It might cost you a beer. A Premium Membership is another matter… old rum is nice. At times during the race you will be on your own because I may be napping. If you are in doubt HTW (heave to and await further instructions.)

Al Bezanson