2018 Hardheads Bolivar Rig Run

By Jim Denys
The 4th annual Hardheads Bolivar RIG RUN is in the books. The first part of the event was like a long, slow dance with Mother Nature and her angry wet ways. After a week of pounding rain on the Bolivar Peninsula, the skies dried out just in time to get the event in. We appreciated the die hard Bumpity Bump sailors who came as far away as Carthage, Texas for the event as well as Problem Child from Galveston, and of course our very own representatives from the Bluewater, Emerald 1 and Sandy Shores.

The event start was pushed back to 2PM to allow the beach some time to dry out and teams time to recover from the hearty Captain’s Dinner held on Friday Night at Hardheads. It was a good thing since one team had some last minute repairs to do following a 30 mile race Labor Day weekend when the rudder assembly had to be secured and sealed. Bob Currie from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary was onsite for a brief safety message as well as to recommend all sailors have the US Coast Guard App on the phone where help could be just a click away. Bob reminded us of the water rescue of 5 people last weekend at the rig when their fishing boat capsized at the rig, and everyone was quickly rescued.

The launch was spectacular, as sailors positioned their boats on the starting line in a foot of water on the starting line held firmly by Mike Dupree and Wild Bill Agnew holding the American and Texas flags. Once the sailors were in place the huge crowd began chanting in unison the traditional countdown 10-9-8-7…3-2-1 GO! All sailors picked their lines and headed off, 5 cleanly navigated the perilous surf and Team Wave Runner on a Hobie 18 quickly ran into trouble when a hidden sand bar snapped the rudder completely off the back of the boat with a large 8 inch gapping hole in the hull. What many people don’t understand is each boat has its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Hobie 18 uses dagger boards to hold a line in the surf but these can’t be deployed until the water is deep enough. Without the dagger boards down the captain has little or no control in a pounding surf other than his rudder. If the boat gets sideways to the surf they will most always expose themselves to getting rolled by the crashing waves. Captain Dick Gunn and crew Tom Nelson with their beautiful new sail managed to get the crippled boat safely back to shore without additional damage.

As for the rest of the fleet, each picked their lines to the rig in the SE 10 MPH winds, Team Hullflying on a Hobie 16 was the first to knife through the surf and jumped out to an early lead taking a westerly tack followed by Problem Child on the tall Hobie 20 after they wrestled in the surf a bit with Bumpity Bump on a Hobie 16 but finally broke free straight to the rig, East Texas followed Team Hullflying on the westerly tack. Team Club Pesca with a Blue sail on a Hobie 16 and the Bluewater boys on the Yellow Prindle 16 managed to hold very tight lines straight to the rig harnessing enough wind to maintain the straight line while sacrificing a little speed. Meanwhile Problem Child quickly cleared the rig with crew Karen Webb flying the trapeze all the way to a commanding lead in the near perfect sailing conditions.

Off to the west Team Hullflying and Bumpity Bump encountered a shrimp boat that decided to fish in the middle of the race course and heading straight to the rig from the west. Bumpity Bump tacked a bit farther west to allow ample clearance for the nets that were deployed while Team Hullflying calculated the angle of the cables entering the water and took a tighter line to pass behind the shrimp boat. Both boats enjoyed watching the dolphin feeding frenzy behind the shrimp boat with some jumping completely out of the water.

Both boats continued past the Rig to allow plenty of distance to make the fast mile run back towards the rig into the wind. This sounded like a good plan, well that was until the captain of the Tran Shrimp boat decided to turn south and directly into our path as we headed to the rig. With decent winds we were holding our speed but we were too close to go behind with the 30 foot outriggers extending on each side and we were limited to turning out in front as we would have stalled when turning into the wind. We elected to maintain our tack directly to the rig and an almost certain collision course with the Tran.

The Captain of the Tran maintained his path directly in our way bobbing his vessel in the 3-5 foot swells. We became confident we could clear the starboard outrigger but the bobbing bow of the Tran inched closer and closer to us on our tack to the rig. We used sign language to try and communicate to the Tran Captain but he inched closer and closer until were directly in front of the bow just 40 feet away ( it felt more like 4 feet!!! ). Once we cleared the bow we had to worry about clearing the 30 foot port outrigger that was dancing wildly in the swells The race to the rig suddenly became secondary to the race to clear the Tran. Luckily we held onto the wind and our 60 second encountered felt more like 30 minutes.

We continued our race to the rig and saw Bumpity Bump taking a tight line to the rig sailing behind the Tran while we were taking a much wider line to the rig, especially after our close rig encounters last year in light wind and nasty currents. Our fast westerly tack proved to be not as efficient as the slower direct route. Once we made our final tack the three leaders Problem Child, Bluewater Boys and Team Club Pesca were already headed back and Bumpity Bump was rubbing the Rig they were very close to it. We avoided the close encounter and swung a slightly more East hoping to catch better wind speed hoping to make up for the additional distance. The calm down wind grind ensued riding each wave towards the finish.

Once we crossed the finish line the crowd let out a thunderous roar for our 5th place finish of 1:12:00 corrected to 1:34:44. Problem Child completed the race in 51:00 and corrected time of 1:18:28, and the Bluewater Boys 2nd at 1:01:45 and corrected of 1:19:34, with Team Club Pesca in 3rd at 1:04:52, and corrected of 1:25:21. Bumpity Bump 4th in 1:08:55 and corrected 1:30:41.

We can’t thank our sponsors enough, Jason and Andrea Kapchinski from Hardheads and their staff for their support and enthusiasm, along with the perfect Hot dogs, Water, Rig Run T-Shirts, and Trophies. The Bolivar Yacht Club would also like to thank it’s sponsors Big Bobby Boy, Rick Gehring from Gehring’s Hysterical Properties, Steve Barnes with Barney’s Mean Machine, Mike Frye from Top Sail 13, and Greg and Donna Stone from Sign Solutions for all their graphical support. We also appreciate Tom Austin for coming out from the CrystalBeachLocal.Com for continued annual coverage. Bob Currie from the US Coast Guard Reserve Auxiliary, and Shawn Pachlhofer for keeping the racers safe.

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