Dr Heineken's Rules for
Sailing the San Francisco City Front
Assumption: The wind is from the west.
• Don't believe the tide book, believe your eyes.
• Look at every stationary mark whenever you sail by.
• Whatever the water is doing on this leg of the course, the next one will be different, usually predictably different.
• Smooth water is moving in the same direction as the wind.
• Rough water is moving against the wind.
• Sail upwind in ugly, rough water.
• Sail downwind in smooth water.
• Whenever you cross a current line, decide whether the new current is favorable. If it isn't, change course.
• Sometimes you have to sail in bad air to get to the favored side of the course.
• Along the whole SF City Front, the shallower water near shore slows the current.
• There is more current relief, in a wider band, west of the Club, especially west of Anita Rock.
• The harbor east of the Club offers significant relief.
Flood Tide Upwind Tactics
• Prior to the start, stay close to the starting line.
• After the start, head for the SF shoreline.
• Short tack up the shoreline.
• Observe the width of the lane of current relief.
• Play shifts and pressure differences within that lane of relief.
• Over-stand the weather mark to adjust for the current.
Flood Tide Downwind Tactics
• Sail away from shore into smooth water and good pressure.
• Enjoy it.
Ebb Tide Upwind Tactics
• Stay further from the starting line so the current doesn't push you over.
• Set yourself up so that after the start you get onto port tack, out into the current.
• Tack short of the starboard layline and let the current take you to the mark.
Ebb Tide Downwind Tactics
• Sail in maximum pressure. Although there is more relief near shore, for a planning boat or sailboard, pressure is most important.
• Slack current does not exist. The water is always moving.
• Generally the current changes at the SF shoreline first and then moves north across the Bay.
• The City Front current change generally occurs about one hour prior to what the tide book calls slack. But this is variable, believe your eyes.
Flood to Ebb
• Upwind, continue to sail close to the shoreline, but the lane gets progressively wider.
• Downwind, again, sail in maximum pressure.
Ebb to Flood
• When the flood starts at the City Front, there is often remaining ebb out in the Bay.
• Look for rough water and the movement of other boats to make that decision.
• One more upwind leg out into the Bay may be successful.
Notice Of Race
Schedule Of Events
Sailing Instructions Amendment 1
St Francis Yacht Club
Techno 293 Association Website
Racer Help - The Tides
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