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A Complete Fiasco

Left to right: Jeff Bryant, Mike Bernard, Marc Danner, Myles Danner, Paul Miachika guarding his trophy, Gordon Briner, David Newland, and a dry version of Scott Picquet.

Story and photos by David Newland

What a way to bring in the New Year! With a winter storm clearing in the early AM, we had sun, a balmy 56 degrees and 14-16 knots of breeze – complete with white cap conditions and the TTL wind speed warning lights flashing! Water temperature was probably in the low 60’s. Time for the 2nd annual Tempe Town Lake Two Bridge Fiasco – TTL2BF!

The idea of this race stems from the 3 Bridge Fiasco held in San Francisco, where 160 entrants race around the 3 bay bridges in the order of their choosing, gauging tidal flow, wind forecast and making navigational decisions like taking Angel Island to port or starboard. Well, we don’t have SF Bay. We have TTL with Mill Ave and Scottsdale Rd bridges.

Eight (8) sailors showed up, which is 1 better than last year. Progress! And, Mike Hester showed up while we were rigging to offer moral support. He wasn’t racing as he had just flown back from a business trip and didn’t have any gear. I offered my spare bathing suit as it was only slightly wet from last night’s hot tub, but he respectfully declined.

Six (6) Lasers showed up as well as 2 Sunfish helmed by Jeff Bryant and Scott Picquet. These Sunfish sailors were kitted out, testing gear to take their Sunfish to Catalina Island this summer. Good thing, too, as Scott’s life jacket needs some tuning. It interfered with a tack pre-race and he ended up being the first TTL sailor to enter the water in 2022. Two (2) other sailors were near him and stayed close by until he righted his rig. He got back in the game quickly.

The race is a non-AYC sponsored event, so the course needs to be self sufficient, and as noted above, we do too. The start is an imaginary box outlined by the west/east marina entrance and the Mountain Fitness sign on the south side of the lake. During prep, skippers sail north/south within this box until the gun. At that time, they point their boats to their choice of the west or east bridge, round it, then go round the other bride, with a finish in the marina.

With a stiff westerly breeze, we lightly discussed doing 2 races as we’d probably blitz this course. Well, we did. Start 1 had all boats but one going to the west bridge first with a beat to windward. I took the downwind east bridge first. Point of interest: I think most didn’t actually decide until the final seconds of the start. I know I didn’t. I was trying to blow the timer whistle without swallowing it, monitor time, all the while trying not to dump at the start in these conditions.

It’s a typical TTL race until you get to the bridge, when the shifts and wind holes of TTL go to another level. All the while trying not to scrape your mast on the west bridge (which a few did!). There’s actually plenty of room, but if you get close to bridge support, you have to induce heal, which is tricky to do in gusty/shifty conditions.

Paul Miachika and Gordon Briner battled the entire race, while I was alone wondering if my bridge order decision would pay off. I was on a downwind rhumb line to the marina finish as Paul and Gordon were tacking their way there as well. The result? Paul took honors with a 23:30 finish time, with Gordon and me seconds behind. Gordon got me by a nose. Jeff clocked a GPS speed for his Sunfish at 11.8 mph. Like I said, he was kitted out.

Race 2 had the winds calm a little, maybe 8-10, with a shift from the Northwest. This time, we all went for the west bridge first and it was a typical TTL race with all trying to manage the wind holes. It was more of a reach than Race 1 in slightly lighter wind, but similar line honor race time of 23:45.

Top 3 results for the event:

  • Paul Miachika 3 (1-2)
  • David Newland 4 (3-1)
  • Gordon Briner 5 (2-3)

A special shout out to the other sailors braving the conditions: Mike Bernard, Marc and Myles Danner. And congratulations to Paul for winning this event! What was the award for this Canadian sailor? A case of Modelo Especial. Thanks for sharing!

This will happen again 1/1/23. You in? Maybe I’ll make shirts.

– David Newland