Kids, don’t try this at home.

The Ronstan Bridge to Bridge is one of those oddball specialties on the calendar of racing on San Francisco Bay. First it was about windsurfers. By and by, 18-foot skiffs and kites were added. A year ago a skiff won for the first time. This year, in what definitely was not a prototype demo of future big-boat participation, Ragtime joined the fray.

The Ragtime that has twice finished first in the Transpac, the Ragtime that won the 2008 Tahiti Race and then won her division in the Sydney-Hobart. One thing I can say for Chris Welsh – he’s the guy who rescued this legend of Pacific racing and put her back on the track – he knows how to play.

This pic of our bowman, Matt, sums up the B2B experience. Sillygrins . . .


And even though I negotiated a cameraman position, we were well inside the Golden Gate Bridge starting line and well on our way to the Bay Bridge finish before I could leave off scampering around the deck and haul out the camera. Outside the Gate, before the start, the setting had been spectacular. Green water. Whitecaps beating against the sandstone walls of the strait. Kites and boards roaring through a near-wilderness. A handful of adrenalin-pumping keelboat sailors on Ragtime very focused on keeping the mast upright and kiters out from under the wheels. People had worried about the mix, ahead of time, but in the event all was spirited and happy. The kiters thought we were a hoot.

Backlighting was a simple reality by the time we cleared the bridge, slowed from 18 knots to 16-17, and settled down enough for me to snap.


Nobody could sail under us. They had to sail over . . .


Not bad speedo numbers for smooth water . . .


Eventually the question is, what did you bring to the gunfight? The (several) skiffs that didn’t crash all finished ahead of us, as did a few of the boards and kites. But there was a big, hungry hole just short of the Bay Bridge, and it ate up the little guys. Kites simply floated out of the sky and stopped working. Only seven of thirty kites reached a finish line that was so close, they could have made it swimming. See them littering the water? Devin Vaughn, tending the foreguy here, is the son of big Don Vaughn, the famed crew boss of Windward Passage . . .


So. May never happen again, but it was pretty cool. John Winning’s 18-footer won. Ragtime was 16th. And then came the long weekend. Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.

Ragtime and company:  Photo by Rich Roberts

Ragtime and company: Photo by Rich Roberts

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