Jeff Grange Wins 2016 SF Bay’s Delta Ditch Run

Stockton Sailing Club
June 6

Most of us race Vipers one-design around the buoys while others race their Viper PHRF. Some of our California Viper brethren decided to race their Vipers on a distance race: the Delta Ditch. As background, the 25th annual Delta Ditch Run was sailed on June 6, starting in the San Francisco Bay and went up the Delta to finishes at the Stockton Sailing Club. In the past this event has attracted over 200 boats with racers from across the country showing up for this generally downwind sixty five mile race. Sixty five miles in a Viper. Egad! (Editor’s note: I hate, hate, hate exclamation points…but this truly warrants one.)

This year three Vipers went the distance: Jeff Grange, Chris Paulsen, and Olan Bleck finishing in that order.

Here’s a recap from Chris Ganne:

From the start our initial plan was to stay in deep water and gain the assistance of the current. After watching a number of boats head left to fresh breeze and paying we decided to abandon plan and follow, spent all of our time in San Pablo Bay watching the other two Vipers walk away from us. As we entered the straits, we felt the right looked good and took the flyer and it paid well, gybed near shore and rode the next 10-15 minutes to the Benicia bridge at 13+ knots, as we came under the bridge we saw fresh breeze on left and nothing right.

Knowing the left was shallow we wanted to keep boats above us as benchmarks but stay in the breeze, when Olaf Bleck grounded we decided to add another 50-yards of cushion. We certainly were able to gain back a lot on Jeff Grange through Suisun Bay; but once we entered the Ditch, he found another gear and we found reeds/grass with no kelp stick.

With about 10 miles to go, breeze went light and when the finishing lights were in sight, the wind completely shut off. The final mile in a 2-hour drift fest.

Olaf-Bleck-2016-Delta-Ditch-Run-1

Olaf Bleck’s boat being hauled revealing his secret weapon – hooking fish and getting a speed tow. Shades of Australia II’s keel reveal. Yes?

Olaf-Bleck-2016-Delta-Ditch-Run-2

Olaf’s fishing rig – attached to his keel bulb…not fast.

There were definitely packs of boats throughout the race and when the breeze was light, breaking free of these packs proved difficult. I can’t tell you how many times we crossed bows/sterns of the same Moore 24’s and then the breeze filled in we left them and then did the same with the Express fleet once the breeze lightened up again. I feel like we should invite them to Thanksgiving now that we know them so well. To note, getting sandwiched between a 45′ Tri and a Cal 40 is not fast; but we found ourselves there on several occasions.

Was still an epic day, would do again in a heartbeat but obviously change the game plan from our experience this year. Am I the only one who thinks it would have been awesome to see a fish on the end of Olaf’s trolling line?

Jeff, Olaf and Eric, thanks for making the trip up. I’m happy to start planning for logistics/lodging for next year if there is interest. Josh (chase boat) had a great time as well and is onboard for 2017.

Chris