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Head of the Corkscrew

BIAC's 7th annual Corkscrew Regatta was held on Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 9:30 am.
A high tide of 9.0 feet occured around 11:50 am. A $12 entry fee per rower was donated to our local Second Harvest Food Bank. As usual, honors were crowned on teams who have the best Holiday costumes. A wonderful potluck BBQ at BIAC followed

2011 Corkscrew Results

Printable Flyer for 7th Annual Corkscrew

For course details, please see below. You have to see or row this to believe it.
Click here for past Corkscrew Regatta results.

Only high winds or lightning will cancel the race. So be prepared for some drizzle, though most of us don't notice it and we are wetter on the inside. We have room outside on the Observation Deck or inside the BIAC clubhouse to gather afterwards with friends and fuel (food).

2011 Corkscrew Regatta Schedule:

Time Event
7:00 Registration begins
8:30 Greetings and Race Talk
9:00 Launch and Warmup
9:30 START: Octet, Quads, K4
9:40 Mens 8+, Mixed 8+
9:50 Scullers: 2x, then 1x,
fastest first.
11:00 Pot Luck at BIAC begins

Registration starts at 7:00 am in person on race day. If you have special storage, trailer, shell, or volunteer needs please contact "corkscrew at gobair dot org ".

Los Gatos 2009 Holiday Nine

Head of the Corkscrew

Course Overview:
Corkscrew Slough is a serpentine body of water and very fun to row during high tide (5+ feet of mean tide required). The course is about 15 km long (9 miles) depending on your good steering. It has nine turns inside of Bair Island. This is a clockwise head style race with about 20 second intervals between shells.  The start and finish are by the Stanford Crew docks in the Port of Redwood City.

About Corkscrew Slough:
Corkscrew connects with Steinberger Slough and Redwood Shores to the northwest and to the Port of Redwood City to the southeast. It is impassable at the north west Redwood Shores entrance during low tide unless you are a mud skipper - more than 5 feet above MLLW (Mean Low Level Water)) is recommended.  Corkscrew Slough winds between Middle and Outer Bair Islands, is on average 100 feet wide, and is a vital estuary for wildlife and the restoration of Bair Island.

Course Details:
This is a grueling marine obstacle course with 17 'turns'. At 15 kilometers, it is one of the longest and most challenging head races in the USA. We race a clockwise loop entirely within protected (weather and ecology) littoral waters. Here is a detailed satellite photo.

Experienced coxswains and scullers alike will test their wits and skills as you navigate tight turns, scenic runs, and the company of other shells. There are also numerous (yet visible) stationary markers and old dock pilings to avoid (circa Pete's Harbor, San Carlos Airport, and the Port of Redwood City). This course has 17 'turns', nine of which are inside of the Corkscrew Slough.

A practice run at high tide is advised prior to race day. Fortunately the banks of this course are soft so you won't likely damage more than your pride if you park your shell in the reeds.

Start: The race begins (and ends) in line with Stanford's crew docks and procedes clockwise past Pete's Harbor, through Smith Slough and by the Wipple Ave loop of Inner Bair Island. Then you turn north and pass the San Carlos Airport, heading past some old harbor pilings into Steinberger Slough for a good 150 stroke stretch to approach the NW entrance of Corkscrew Slough.

Enter Corkscrew: Stay wide here at the NW entrance due to the subsurface mud flats. It is here that you'll get blocked at low tide (less than 5 feet above MLLW (Mean Low Level Water)). Once into Corkscrew you can count nine alternating turns, some hairpin (2,4) and some more subtle (1,8,9). Be mindful of the residents: there is an abundance of wildlife to observe your style and power, so don't be freaked if a harbor seal is sighted close by (especially turns 6 through 9 where about two dozen have their home). Enjoy the ecotourism, watch your course, and keep racing.

Exit Corkscrew: Your final approach to the SE exit of Corkscrew should allow you to get in a good 100 power strokes. You emerge into the Port of Redwood City just inside of 'the wires'. You are about ten minutes from the finish at red marker #14. Hug the starboard shore or run the red channel markers as you like, but stay on the right (north western) side of the channel to avoid other vessels. You'll have about 2500 meters of deep protected water before your final turn to the finish.

Other Details:

Bragging rights are given to crew with the best holiday costume (that you can row in).  It might be wise to have a practice before hand! 

We ask for a $12 donation per seat that will go towards providing meals for less fortunate families in the local area in this holiday season.  We take checks or ca$h.  Please make checks payable to Second Harvest food bank.  We aim to provide meals for over 1,000 local families!  All donations are 100% tax deductible between Aug 29th and Dec 31st..

Registration: Please email 'Corkscrew at GoBair dot org' if you can join us or have any special needs. Actual registration (the fee gets you a bow number) takes place on Sunday at BIAC an hour and a half before the race begins. A brief 'chalk talk' will take place an hour before the race starts in order to size up your competition and hear any late breaking course news (like dredging barges).

Docks for Shells: There are three great places to put shells into the waters of the Port of Redwood City - BIAC, Stanford, and the Port of RWC itself (where Palo Alto has temporary docks placed near the end of Chesapeake Drive off of Seaport and there is plenty of parking). Trailers can be kept overnight in the large parking lot at the end of Chesapeake or by arrangement at BIAC.

7:00 am - Registration at the BIAC boat house.
Pick up bow numbers. Hear alumni wisdom and late breaking news.
8:00 am - Launch and warmup

Race Procedures:
Warm up a half hour before your race time.
Launch from BIAC, Stanford, or Redwood City docks.
Boats muster at Green Marker 21
Start and finish line is the Stanford Crew dock.
Click here for a Map

There will be an officials' launch covering safety, recording start and finish times, and judging attire at the Stanford dock..  Race times will be announced online in the afternoon ASAFP - the race committee comes in last to the potluck and deserves a moment to enjoy your company.

Please ensure shells have heel ties, bow balls, etc.  There will be a motor launch in the channel recording times; it will be used in the event of an emergency. There will also be competitors equipped with cell phones and one rowing 'cleanup' at the tail to ensure everyone's safe passage.

The best place to watch this race is from Stanford's boathouse on Cardinal Way in Redwood City. This is our start and finish line. It will be an action packed two hours as shells start and finish close together. Good viewing is available from the docks, shoreline, and from Stanford's balcony. Bring binoculars and a good hat, show up around the starting time, and watch the festivities.

Pot Luck
We are expecting around 100 rowers. The fueling festivities will start about a half hour after the first race finishes and continue until about an hour after the last race finishes and the officials launch returns safely. If you need suggestions on something to bring try:

  • BIAC Sweep - Salads and Finger food
  • Scullers - Bagels and fillings
  • Los Gatos - Deserts and beverages
  • Others - bring something fun to share
  • Director - Keg of homebrew

Corkscrew Regatta Results
2005 (first year results are lost)

"Corkscrew at GoBair dot org"
2011 Regatta Director: Chuck Bonnici

Bair Island Aquatic Center 2005-2010