“Got That Out of the Way.” Carl Buchan and the Transpac

“Got That Out of the Way.” Carl Buchan and the Transpac
Merlin closing in on the finish with Bill Lee at the helm. Sharon Green photo.

There were plenty of big stories in this years Transpac Race. Comanche‘s 5-day, 1 hour record, Mighty Merloe‘s stunning victory and the return of Merlin are probably the top three.

The Merlin story includes a part that’s very near and dear to us in the Pacific Northwest. It was Carl Buchan’s first big offshore race of the kind. Pacific Northwesterners are eager to claim Carl as one of our own, and with good reason. He’s won an Olympic Gold Medal (with Jonathan McKee in the Flying Dutchman) an America’s Cup – sort of – (with Dennis Conner in 1988) 505 North Americans (with Carol Buchan) Tasar Worlds (with Carol) and last but not least the Star Worlds (with Hugo Schreiner).

On Madrona, a 40-footer to his own design, Buchan is a perpetual force on the PNW race courses including events as diverse as Round the County and the Race to Alaska.

Most importantly, through all of it, he has retained both his humility and energy for the sport. Both came in handy on Merlin this year. As one might expect, Merlin‘s crew was rife with experience led by The Wizard himself, Bill Lee. Buchan may ooze boatspeed and racing smarts, but he was the offshore newbie aboard Merlin. Staying in character, he did his job and learned a lot.

Lessons Learned

Transpac sunset – not necessarily time to sleep. Buchan photo.

Sleep The first learning curve is one of the most important and challenging. “I was starting to get into a rhythm the day before we finished. I was a basket case before that sleep-wise,” Buchan explained. I’m not sure how he did it, but accepting that you have a problem is always the first step.

Knowing the Boat “One of the things that became clear was the importance of knowing the boat, in particular the polars and (sail combination) crossovers. You usually don’t have other boats around to get that performance feedback. It was great to have Pyewacket out there. They were always pushing us. We were expecting to fall behind early, but our goal was was to be within about 20 miles when the high speed running conditions started to favor us.” In the end, Merlin beat Pyewacket into Hawaii by a couple of hours and only trailed the much higher rated Runaway on elapsed time. On corrected time, the Alan Andrews-designed Pyewacket won, followed by the Santa Cruz 70 Catapult and the Merlin.

Merlin While it may have been tempting to think of Merlin’s 2017 Transpac as a trip down memory lane for a 40 year old boat, it was obviously a lot more that that. Over the years she’s been modified and upgraded many times, and since buying the boat a year or so ago Bill Lee has put in a number of other changes. Here’s a Scuttlebutt post with more on the program. “Once in a while Bill would say something like ‘at this point in the race back then’ but he’s really forward thinking,” explains Buchan. “It’s not clear what the next phase will be for the boat, perhaps chartering or selling.”

Offshore Tactics Buchan is used to finding the fastest way upwind, downwind or to a point somewhere along the course that will take advantage of current or expected windshift. In the Transpac, the usual course of things is to be lifted on starboard gybe as you make your way to Hawaii. The big decision is when to gybe to port. “Things happen more slowly out there on an ocean race. You set a waypoint into your plans and maximize your speed to that point. But conditions are always changing, so you’re constantly updating that information and updating the game plan. You have to be set up to take in that information.”

Madrona lighting it up in Round the County. Sean Trew photo.

A Transpac for Madrona? Watching Madrona take shape locally in carbon, with many helping hands, was fascinating for many of us. At the time we heard Transpac mentioned. “Even when I built the boat it was on my mind,” Buchan says. Madrona‘s moderate beam and relatively full ends not only look like it would go fast downwind, it does. A couple of memorable Round the County runs revealed Madrona as not just a really fast 40-footer, a blisteringly fast 40-footer in the right conditions. “In many ways, the Transpac would be right up Madrona‘s alley,” Buchan said. Hmmm.

 

In the end, Buchan’s understated summary was “I got that out of the way.” Tellingly, he also said “I certainly enjoyed the longer distance race. I came away seeing it’s a very interesting challenge, especially for the navigator.” My guess is he did a lot more than check something off a list – I’m pretty sure he absorbed a tremendous amount of Transpac know-how, and we’ll see it again, processed and upgraded.

 

 

Weaver Wins US Women’s Championship!

Weaver Wins US Women’s Championship!

Let’s see, Abbie Carlson wins the Leiter Cup (just like Hanne Weaver did a couple years ago) and now Weaver wins the US Singlehanded Women’s Championship! Go PNW! This just came out. I’ll try to get Hanne to give us the lowdown and find some really good photos. In the meantime let us all congratulate our amazing young women sailors!

Please share this, not just with your sailing friends, but your non-sailing friends. The Pacific Northwest remains a hotbed of outstanding dinghy sailors, both men and women. Any young people who are into racing can gain some motivation from these recent successes, and any young person thinking about an exciting and challenging life-long sport should take note! –KMH

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (July 24, 2017) – Following four days of exciting racing in the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe, Marek Zaleski (Norwalk, Conn.) became the 2017 U.S. Singlehanded Men’s Champion and Hanne Weaver (Seattle, Wash.) became the 2017 U.S. Singlehanded Women’s Champion on Sunday. Held in conjunction with the Laser Class U.S. National Championships and hosted by the Tahoe Yacht Club, the fleets were comprised of experienced and proven singlehanded sailors and an influx of new talented young men and women.

Zaleski’s performance was good enough to claim the overall title out of 43 boats in the Full Rig fleet for the Laser Class U.S. National Championship. Although Jake Vickers was a game competitor all week, Zaleski won five of the seven races and was the clear-cut top performer.

U.S. Singlehanded Men’s Championship: Final Results – Top 5

1. Marek Zaleski, Noroton Yacht Club, 1-5-1-1-1-1-[7]- ; 10

2. Jake Vickers, Severn Sailing Association, 3-[6]-4-2-3-3-1- ; 16

3. Caleb Robinson, Sail Maine, 2-[22]-5-13-5-7-5- ; 37

4. Cameron Feves, Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, 6-9-8-9-[16]-4-13- ; 49

5. Peter Phelan, Santa Cruz Yacht Club, 7-11-7-6-7-14-[44/DSQ]- ; 52

Complete Standings

“The altitude and the water quality are two things that are different about this venue,” explained Zaleski. “I’m glad I got here early, because I was struggling when working out on my bike and the water is so clear, the Lasers float a little lower in the water, not a huge difference, but it’s noticeable.”

“I am campaigning for the 2020 Olympics non-stop,” said Zaleski. “I have over 200 days on the water since I graduated last year and a lot of time in the gym working on my fitness. So, it’s nice to see good results and that my work  is paying off.”

Weaver won the U.S. Singlehanded Women’s Championship by a 16 point margin over Charlotte Rose. She placed second overall to Chase Carraway out of 55 boats in the Laser Radial fleet.

U.S. Singlehanded Women’s Championship: Final Results – Top 5

1. Hanne Weaver, RVYC, SYC, 3-12-4-2-10-[18]- ; 31

2. Charlotte Rose, Houston Yacht Club / GCYSA, [23]-14-2-4-14-13- ; 47T

3. Kelly Cole, OCBC, 7-13-5-14-[56/OCS]-8- ; 47T

4. Lillian Myers, GCYSP, [18]-11-17-6-6-9- ; 49

5. Annika Fedde, Ventura Yacht Club, 13-26-16-27-9-[39]- ; 91

Complete Standings

“The wind and how it comes off the mountains and spreads out over the lake is the most challenging part of this sailing venue,” explained Weaver. “You really have to keep your head out of the boat.”

The race committee completed three races for the Lasers on Thursday and Friday and three races for the Laser Radials on Thursday and two on Friday. The conditions were similar both days with winds in the 6-10 knot range, primarily from 225° with violent shifts making it difficult to maintain “squareness’ on the inside-outside trapezoid course.

 

Lack of any breeze on Saturday forced the race committee to abandon all racing. Sunday looked like a repeat of Saturday, with a slightly better, yet inconsistent, forecast model. A 10 knot westerly burst through the racing area later in the afternoon. The shifts became radical and inconsistent resulting in a postponement and general recall before getting off the Lasers just seven minutes before the warning signal deadline. The wind was brisk resulting in a shorter than expected race duration for both fleets. They completed an important sixth race for the Radials (allowing for their discard) and a seventh race for the Lasers.

Sailors eligible for the U.S. Singlehanded Sailing Championships in the men’s Laser Full Rig and women’s Laser Radial Fleets must be U.S. citizens and at least turn 17 in the calendar year of 2017. These eligible sailors raced in their respective fleets as part of the Laser Nationals competition.

Prizes were awarded to competitors meeting the eligibility rules for the U.S. Singlehanded Championship:

  • George D. O’Day Trophy to the overall highest placing eligible male in the Laser Full Rig for the U.S. Singlehanded Men’s Championship.
  • Helen Willis Hanley Trophy to the overall highest placing eligible female in the Laser Radial for the U.S. Singlehanded Women’s Championship.
  • US Sailing medals were awarded to the top three positions in each fleet.
  • Peter J. Barrett Sportsmanship Trophy will be awarded and posted by Monday morning.

For complete results and standings and more information about the 2017 U.S. Singlehanded Sailing Championships, please visit the event website.

The 2017 U.S. Singlehanded Championships is sponsored by Gill North America and Hobie Polarized. This US Sailing National Championship is participating in the Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas program.

Bruce’s Weather Brief, July 22-23

Bruce’s Weather Brief, July 22-23

Bruce is back! With forecasts! Now let’s get out there and cruise.

TransPac was great but nothing beats the Pacific Northwest in the summer when the weather is perfect here while the rest of the country is baking and getting overly soaked. Not much on tap around here in terms of weather to watch except the usual summertime suspects: the wind against the ebb tide going over the bars along the coast and the afternoons in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as the westerly fills down especially in the central to eastern part of the Strait.

What is strange is that weak group of low-pressure systems centered off of the Queen Charlottes. These are supported by a cut-off upper-level low that you see on today’s 500MB chart. This combination has the overall effect of keeping the Pacific High weak and unstable. This is actually good news as this will have the effect of keeping our temperatures from getting too warm. The other good news is that not much is going to change going forward. Overall, that means do more boating, get out and enjoy our incredible area.

Harken Club for Kids

Harken Club for Kids

I’m lifting this post straight from Scuttlebutt. I’m sure neither the good folk at Scuttlebutt nor the good folk at Harken will mind. It’s for the kids after all, and the future of sailing. I signed up my son Ian right away. In an industry that is focused way too often on that extra 1/100th of a knot of boatspeed (and Harken is really really good at finding that speed) it’s great to see an eye turned to the important stuff. Please share with all the little sailors you know. Bill Faude of Harken explains:

What exactly is a Blockhead?

What’s the genesis of the Blockhead program?
Harken CEO Bill Goggins and myself have young kids getting into sailing (four kids between us between the ages of 6 and 12 with younger Goggins kids to age in soon) and so were logically remembering what kind of great sailing experiences we had growing up.

We remember drilling and pop riveting…moving cam cleats and changing between cam cleats and clam cleats and rigging twings and then going back to guy hooks…moving hiking straps around…flipping boats and wet sanding…really taking care of our boats to make sure they fit us better and in the balance learning to be self-reliant.

In the midst of this, we came to the realization that kids don’t do that now. The boats they sail are MUCH better than a generation ago. They all come well rigged, and not much breaks. Even second-hand Optis and 420s work beautifully.

As Harken employees, we are charged with growing our Brand. So we’ll never disguise the fact the existence of a sailing generation growing up without learning to screw or pop-rivet an eye strap to the deck, looked like a potential business risk. We felt the obligation to expose the next generation to the link between high-performance rigging applied effectively and better results. That link was not well understood.

All told we both wanted and needed to launch a program like this.

And what kind of program have you launched?
We want to help the next generation of sailors love sailing as much as we do. Sounds like BS when I say it, but it’s true. Personally, I like sailing because it lets me go ‘off the grid’ for a few hours. There are no curbs and gutters and lines on the racecourse, so I can call my own shots.

I actually still remember what it felt like when I first took my Laser (13095) off the dock and out of hearing range of my instructors. On my own. We think once kids feel that, they’ll imprint on the sport better.

Emotionally, we want kids to feel the confidence sailing can uniquely bring. Rationally, we want there to be less Helicoptering for parents to do. Sailors should know how to maintain their own boats…the earlier they start this the better.

We’re looking to engage the kids in the media they choose. So Blockheads is an old school fan-club model bolted to a video-infused website with social media opportunities for them to share their experiences and results.

Importantly, we’re really conscious of staying in our lane, so the content we’re trying to create is all about boat care, rigging, go-fast ideas and shared experiences. We’re working hard to curate it so we don’t get into areas where others are already excelling.

So there won’t be tactical discussions or sailing technique lessons. That’s not Harken’s niche. We explain how rigging works and how to upgrade for performance.

Who can join the program?
Anyone can join and it’s free, but we’re writing for a target between the Opti Green Fleet and the end of College Sailing. There’s free SWAG when you become a Blockhead. And we hope the program will grow so we can offer the benefits of becoming a member to more kids. Right now, we’ve budgeted for 1000 new members kits for this year.

• Additional details in this fact sheet or at www.harkenblockheads.com.
• Contact at blockheads@harken.com

Pacific Northwest Sailors Take on a Tough Chicago-Mac at 23 knots in Blue

Pacific Northwest Sailors Take on a Tough Chicago-Mac at 23 knots in Blue

This year’s 333-mile (289 nm) Chicago Mackinac Island Race sailed last weekend was, once again, a tour of extreme conditions. Two life-saving rescues had to be performed in the fleet. From very nearly deadly to drifting, the crews from all those boats competing, whether they finished or not, have tales to tell. The Paul Bieker-designed 41-footer Blue was more than a Northwest design; a good portion of its crew was from the Northwest including Brian Huse, Kathryn Meyer and Kris Bundy. Brian graciously offered up a report between Macs (they’re doing the Port Huron Mac as well), and at the end of this post I’ll include some links to hair-raising rescues from the race. Here’s Brian:

The 17-boat Tartan 10 class was one of six one-design classes in the Mac. Photo courtesy of Miste Photography.

We had a great sail. The forecast was for a building SW breeze ahead of a cold front which would intersect with around midnight Saturday. We were in section 1, the third to last start, at 1:40 on Saturday. We had a great start and quickly set the fractional code-0 and were on our way. An hour or so later we changed to the A3 and then a few hours later we settled in to the A2. We sailed out of Chicago toward Michigan until the breeze settled into what we thought was the max right then gybed onto port and headed north. The goal was to get as far north as possible ahead of the pending cold front, which was forecasted to be strong cold and northerly.

I was off watch with another hour before my watch started when my watch was asked to come on deck to peel to the A4. It was 11:00 Saturday night. It was dark with no moon yet and was blowing 18-20. We were expecting a increase in the southwest breeze ahead of the cold front so we wanted to be ready with the A4 for some nice 20 knot+ true wind speed sailing. We successfully got the A4 up and the A2 down. It was now blowing 25 and our bow team was still tidying up from the change with all others in the back as we were now planing at 18 or so. In less than two minutes the breeze built to the high 30’s and we had 1-2’ of water over the deck. Finally all the crew were able to move to the transom and we ripped! Twenty-three to 25 knots of boat speed. The breeze built to over 40 knots when we noticed wind speed was 44 knots. It was the 44-knot puff which did the damage. While we were working out how to get the kite down the decision was made for us. The kite halyard pulls through the clutch. The spinnaker in the water and the boat broaches a little as the kite fills with water…

No significant damage but we have to cut the halyard as all though it pulled through its still attached to the sail and the boat somewhere. We damaged the kite a little, did some more significant damage to the new staysail as it did some serious flogging half furled. It took about 20 minutes to get sorted out. Unfortunately due to the way we peeled both topmost halyards were lost, leaving us with only fractional halyards. By the time dust settled and we were ready to set the fractional code 0 the breeze had swung to about 30 degrees and we were into a headsail. We would now be beating to Mackinac Island. We started with the #3. A couple hours later we reefed and a couple hours after that we changed to the #4. We sailed with a reef and a #4 all day Sunday. Our masthead electronics were a casualty of the incident so we don’t know what the breeze was but I would say more than 25 and less then 30 and super choppy and sloppy. The waves 4-6’ and close together. The boat was awesome with no issues at all in that stuff. The crew handled well too. Everyone worked hard and even thou it was not a glamour day of sailing, the mood was upbeat and keen. The wind started to die down at the south end of Manitou Passage closer to Sleeping Bear. We started to power up. Shook out the reef and went back to the 3. We had good breeze all the way to Grays reef. The wind freshened a bit but nothing extreme.

We ended up beating in moderate northerly’s to Grays Reef. At the time we got north of the reef it was ~3:00 am Monday. It took 10 hours to sail the ~20 miles to Mackinac in light to no breeze…it was mostly a beat but we ultimately finished with an A1.5 at 1:00ish in the afternoon on Monday.
Michael Schoendorf is the owner of “Blue”. He is a great sailor and puts together a great team. The crew was a mix from the PNW, Midwest and one from the east coast. All great sailors and tough! Mike does an excellent job of preparing the boat and keeping the gear and sails current. I feel quite fortunate to be a part of it.
Brian Huse (broker at Raven Marine)
Ed. Note: The trimaran High Priority 2 capsized and the crew had to be rescued by the USCG. There’s a first person account on Sailing Anarchy. In another Sailing Anarchy story, the survival and rescue of a sailor who spent an hour in the water is chronicled. The Chicago Mac throws it all at you in extremes, from the infamous black flies to furious squalls. It’s humbling. On a personal note, I’ve done seven long ago and miss it terribly. 
The Volvo 70 Il Mostro was the first monohull to finish, and one of the many “gold platers” in the fleet.

Abbie Carlson is Yet Another Rising Seattle Sailing Star, Wins Leiter Cup

Abbie Carlson is Yet Another Rising Seattle Sailing Star, Wins Leiter Cup

The Seattle area seems to churn out champion sailors at a impressively steady pace. The latest is Abbie Carlson, who’s been quietly making her way through the ranks of local, regional and now national sailing. Abbie is part of the Seattle Yacht Club team, and the latest in a line of very successful junior women singlehanders including Hanne Weaver and Talia Toland. We did run the US Sailing press release, but took a shot at asking Abbie to come up with a few words – hopefully they’ll inspire more junior women, and sailors of all types and ages, to join the fun. We’ll keep tabs on all the men and women who are “out there” in the big regattas. Results. Here’s Abbie: 

 

Abbie Carlson and the Leiter Cup

I had an amazing time winning Leiter Cup this year at the Houston Yacht Club. After placing third at Leiter Cup last year in Seattle, my goal for this year’s regatta was to be first.

The first two days consisted of a clinic to adjust to Galveston Bay, the racing venue. The other three days were race days. Overall, this regatta had very light wind conditions with the occasional thunderstorm. On the first race day, after being postponed on the water for several hours due to no wind, we were finally able to sail one shifty and light wind race. I had a great start to the regatta winning this race by half a leg. We started a second race that day although it was abandoned due to an oncoming thunderstorm that brought 20+ knot of wind. The next day we weren’t able to get on the water until 5pm due to thunderstorms and the absence of wind. During these long postponements, it was challenging to remain focused. I found that staying patient and hydrated were essential in achieving this.

However, once the wind came up a bit, we were able to sail two more races in very light wind conditions. Due to the lack of the desired number of races, the race committee moved the start time from the daily 11am time to 9:30am for the final day of racing. By the last day, we had sailed a total of six races meaning that we were able to drop our worst score. The race committee considered starting a seventh race, however a thunderstorm started approaching us so they decided to call it off.

The girls that placed in the top five were all really close in points so I had no idea that I had won the regatta until I got to the dock. I was so excited to achieve my goal. I had such a fun time meeting new talented sailors from across the country and reconnecting with old friends. It’s exciting to know that the Leiter Cup has now been won by three sailors in the Northwest form the Seattle Yacht Club in the last six years. Without the help and support of my coach, Cameron Hoard, Brian Ledbetter, West Coast Sailing, and many others including US Sailing, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I can’t wait to attend Leiter Cup next year in Connecticut.  

Fujin Wins on the Water But Loses the Tweak War

<em>Fujin</em> Wins on the Water But Loses the Tweak War
Fujin, in the background, giving chase to Elvis. Photo courtesy of NYYC and Stuart Streuli.

Here’s Brad Baker’s wrapup to the New York YC Multihull Regatta. It’s clear that Brad has found a new love in multihulls, but we’ll have to find out if he has any new thoughts on blue blazers. It’s also clear it was a fun regatta and Fujin had a great crew. No matter the handicap results, the Bieker design caught everybody’s attention, including the handicappers’. Here’s Brad:

Well, the regatta is in the books. I have some time to reflect on the experience as I wait for our plane here at the Providence airport. Since my last write up, we had two more lighter air races on Friday, a total bust with no racing on Saturday, a BBQ at NY Yacht Club, an awards ceremony, again at NYYC and a bit of a rating controversy to boot.

We had two races Friday. The forecast was for lighter N to NW winds in the 5-10 knot range. The committee elected to take us outside of the bay. The one design Swan 42 class sailed from a different starting line a bit further east while the IRC fleets and the multihull fleet shared a starting line. Other than a brief shot of winds in the 14-knot range, wind speeds generally stayed in the 7-11 knot range. These powered up light weight cats still move at a pretty good clip in these wind speeds, but after sailing at speeds ranging from 12 – 16 knots upwind, doing speed mostly in the 8-knot range Saturday was, well, underwhelming. Also, with the inherent stability of a cat you just don’t get the sensation of power and speed that you might on a monohull going the same speed. Faster is indeed more fun, especially on a high performance catamaran! 

We had a good start for the first race on Friday. In these conditions Fujin uses the code 0 for the upwind work.  Fujin’s boat speed is much closer matched to the Gunboats and the HH 66 in these conditions. The GB (Gunboat) 62 Elvis with her aggressively tall rig and powerful sailplan, really scoots in the 10 knots and under wind speeds.  Fujin, the HH66 Nala, and the GB 62 Elvis banged left while the rest of the fleet split right. With more pressure and a right hand shift the right paid. This was the first time in the regatta that we on Fujin didn’t round the first mark in either first or second place. A GB 60 named Fault Tolerant lead the fleet around the weather mark. That said, tactician Jonathan McKee aboard Fujin did a great job, we never gave up, kept the pedal pushed down and worked our way through the fleet to cross the finish line in second, after rounding the first mark in 5th

For the second race of the day we sailed in similar conditions. Fujin struggled in the lighter breeze, with all the taller rigs surrounding us at the starting line. It seemed to create a vacuum.  This combined with a last minute left hand shift and we nearly couldn’t cross the line, battling to stay above the pin. Elvis started clear and managed to jump out to an early lead.  Even with our struggles, Fujin’s start is best stated as second best. Jonathan sailed us smart and fast as we held off the rest of the fleet to round the first mark in second place behind Elvis. We maintained this position for the race as the rich got richer. Elvis was just too quick to catch in these conditions.  As it turned out this was the last race of the regatta. 

The wind refused to fill in, in a timely manner on Saturday, and the race committee made the call to abandon at about 2:30pm on Saturday. Of course the overcast cleared off 20 minutes later and the seabreeze filled, but that’s the way it always works, right?  The race was on!…. to the dock. We on Fujin had wisely covered the dock side of the course and led the fleet heading back to shore. Our nemesis, Elvis, motored quicker and was on our starboard hip as we entered the bay. It turns out they wanted to share some more of that rum they have on tap.   They tossed a bottle of rum and coke.  Great sports and great competitors!

Any time there are rating systems used there is typically controversy. This regatta was no exception. Initially, Fujin was scored with a 1st and a 2nd place for the final two races sailed. That put us with 1,1,1,2 for the regatta, for a solid win, but……….     the multihull fleet is using a performance/polar based system that actually rates the boats on the average true wind angle and average wind speed for each individual leg. The boats are asked to record their data during the race and send the data log file from the Expedition software to the rating organizers at the end of each day of racing. This is only the second regatta to use this new system. Some of the competitors felt that the polars being used to rate the boats wasn’t representative of the actual speeds achieved on the course, specifically for Fujin.  The decision was made to tweak the numbers. It’s still a bit unclear as to what was tweaked and how the new rating adjustments were achieved, but the end result was the 1,1,1,2 for Fujin turned into a 1,3,4,2. Interesting changes to say the least. With these finishes, Fujin ended up with a second place finish for the regatta. In my humble opinion, this second place result for Fujin was likely appropriate, as Elvis was probably the best sailed boat for the regatta. I am concerned that the tweaks over compensated for the disparities in rating. I know the organizers are working hard to make this very complicated rating system work. I hope that they can get it right, or close to right, to keep the racing fun and to appropriately reward the better sailed boats.

Overall this has been a great experience!  I got to sail with my wife for a week. The kids got to have the house to themselves for a week (hopefully they didn’t have any parties, or at the very least have done an excellent job of cleaning up if they did). Fujin’s owner Greg Slyngstad is a class act and a joy to sail with. The same is true for the rest of the crew, which included Jonathan McKee, Fritz Lanzinger, Erik Bentzen & Mike Leslie. I can’t say enough about the extremely talented boat captain(s) couple, Gina Borza and Andrew McCorquodale.  Gina runs a tight ship, which was very much appreciated and Andrew is a true pro. This was an entirely Pacific NW based crew and we represented our region well. Sailing aboard a high performance catamaran has been a big eye opener and I can’t help but think that sailing, both competition and cruising, is going to be seeing a lot more of these versatile, comfortable and fast two hulled vessels. I’m truly basking in the glow of this experience and eagerly await the next chance to do some more!

Brad Baker is an owner at Swiftsure Yachts, which sells (among it’s many lines) Outremer Catamarans.

Triumph finishes Transpac

Triumph finishes Transpac

The Santa Cruz 52 Triumph, with Bruce and Gregg Hedrick aboard, finished their Transpac last night and are presumed safely docked and mai taied. Congratulations all. Raisin’ Cane and Kinetic V finished last night as well, and BlueFlash is closing in on the finish line fast. Merlin, with Carl Buchan aboard, finished in the wee hours Friday morning to finish second over the line in class and third in class on corrected time. I’ll try to get more details on each of the stories. Results here.

In the meantime, here’s the last report from Bruce Hedrick, filed just before the finish. It’s a fun insight to life onboard and a well-run program.

TransPac Update 15 July 2017

What a long strange race it’s been. Sorry I wasn’t able to get more info out to you however we’ve been working really hard to keep the boat moving in difficult conditions. Even though records were set by the big boats, we’ve spent a lot of time sailing in 9-13 knots even on this final approach to the Islands when we should be sailing with our full sized, heavy kite in 20 to 25 knots of trade winds. Instead we are just comfortably cruising along making about 8-9 knots in 14 knots of breeze.

We had a great first half of the race and it seems like after we had hit something large and soft, we lost our boat speed edge. Even though we could see nothing on our keel or rudder, we also couldn’t see the full length of either one of them. After three days of the slows we finally bit the bullet, dropped the spinnaker and did a complete back down. We never saw anything come off the bottom but we definitely got our speed back and went from 30 miles behind the other SC-52s to within 3 miles of them last night. At sunset we started aggressively gybing on the shifts to try and get past them and actually ended up losing time, go figure. So now we are just keeping the pedal down and are once again sailing up to them. We have about 100 miles to go so it will be interesting.

Our crew has been great and we have had a great time. Our skipper, Steve Sellinger, did an outstanding job of putting a diverse group together and getting them to function as a team. There is no question that any of us would happily sail on Triumph with Steve again, any time, any place. Our boat captain is Gregg Hedrick who did a superb job putting the boat together and getting us ready for this long trip. We have not had one single failure of any piece of equipment or any of the many complex systems aboard. A true testament to his skills and abilities.

We have two watch captains, Scott Mason and Scott Poe, who bring a wealth of knowledge to the table along with an incredible amount sailing skills and abilities. They know instinctively the right thing to do at the absolutely the right time. We also have the considerable fortune to have Bruce Cooper aboard, our sailmaker and living, breathing human crossover chart who knows, without looking, exactly what sail we should have up and where we should be sailing it.

The person you would race anywhere with is Grant Wooden because he is constantly trying  to figure out how to make the boat go faster by always trimming and re-trimming to get the very most out of you and the boat. The most dangerous job on the boat is running the foredeck which entails never ending trips to frontier land (the bow) to get the sails up and down as well as get the spinnakers through that complex series of maneuvers we call gybing which involves coordinating the entire crew. We are so fortunate to have Zack Hannah in charge of all of that; he is just amazing as well as totally fearless. Regardless of the task, time of day or night, even if he just came off watch, he always answers the call with a smile on his face.  A truly outstanding group!

So what worked for us on this 10 day trip? Besides everything, there are notable standouts. Top of the list was the food, and it was incredible. There was none of that freeze-dried junk. Instead we had real food that had been completely prepared, vacuum packed and then deep frozen. All you had to do then was take the breakfast for the next morning out the night before or take dinner out in the morning. Once it was thawed you simply placed the plastic bag in the boiling water of the pressure cooker, let the pressure come up to about 4psi, and your meal was ready! The meals were planned to meet the expected conditions so for the first night, which is traditionally rough, we had easy to eat chicken and rice or bean and cheese burritos. Other dinners included carne asada, pork roast and veggies, pappardelle, sabatinos sausage spaghetti, turkey meatloaf, and for our last supper we’re having barbeque chicken with Trader Joe’s cabbage salad. Not a marginal meal in the bunch. We do have five days of backup freeze-dried meals however things would have to get pretty desperate before we went to those.

Lunch and breakfast were less organized because of the watch system however as the days go on and the days get warmer you generally transition from three meals to two meals and more snacks. Even todays snacks included carrots, celery, apples, oranges, beef jerky, and Kind bars. We’ve all lost some weight but not for lack of food.

A very cool addition to the boat was a coffee grinder mounted in the cockpit which allowed one person to sit on a Home Depot bucket with a boat cushion and easily trim the kite with the option to going to three speeds if needed. So much easier than trying to sit on a winch island and grind a top action winch.

Bruce Cooper, our sailmaker from Ullman Sails, also introduced us to the latest and greatest when it came to aids in the nighttime trimming of spinnakers. For years we’ve used contrasting strips of cloth in a chevron shape along the luff. We got these new luminescent strips which glowed in the dark and were easily seen from the cockpit. They got a little fainter towards dawn but then recharged themselves when the sun came up. He also small strips of the same tape you could place on the sheet so you could easily return to the same fast setting.

Lastly, my Don Leighton autographed sailing gloves were worth every cent. Every time you touched the wheel with them the boat went almost a knot faster. If you reached over the side and touched the water, seas were instantly calmed. Amazing.

Overall, the thing to remember is that when you can sail across the pond with such a great group on such a well prepared vessel, it is an experience like no other and you should never miss an opportunity to do so. Again, I apologize for not getting more of these out to you. Needless to say, if you’re going to be around TransPac Row in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor tonight around 2300 hours, come on by and say hello.

Fujin Winning Tight Battle in Newport

<em>Fujin</em> Winning Tight Battle in Newport

Here’s a quick update from Fujin in the NYYC Multihull Regatta. It was an interesting day yesterday to say the least. We were again postponed for two hours at the dock. Again, the race committee did a good job finding a place to race where there was wind as we went north from Newport further into the bay. A northerly filled in shortly after we arrived at the racing area and quickly built to the higher teens by the time the race started.

Views from onboard.

We had a shorter windward-leeward type course this time around with a total distance of about nine miles. Our start was nearly identical to yesterday’s with us  starting nearer the pin end with Gunboat 62 Elvis ahead and below, the only boat closer to the pin. The race can only be described as really good fun!   I haven’t experienced anything quite like it. There’s something about sailing a 53-foot catamaran flying a hull going to  weather at speeds approaching 16 knots, with a 62-foot cat doing the same thing less than a boat length away. 

It was again a very tight race with Fujin and Elvis leading the way for the rest of the fleet. We are very closely matched in boat speed and swapped places a couple of times during the race. At these speeds laylines and mark roundings came quickly and we had to be on our toes and thinking ahead to the next maneuver. Our top speed on the second run was 26 knots!  Fujin barely hung on to correct over Elvis by a mere 15 seconds.

The race committee wisely chose to call it a day as strong thunder storms were heading our way. On the hour-long motor back to the dock it rained hard with plenty of lighting and thunder.  Evidently Elvis has rum on tap and they were kind enough to share, by mixing some in a 2-liter bottle with a bit of coke then the bottle over to us while under way. Little did they know that we were staying close to them on the assumption that any lighting would hit their taller mast not ours! 

The forecast is for rain near the starting time, but the breeze should be blowing enough to allow for an on time start.  Boat call is 0900 and it’s 0825 now.  Time to wrap it up.

Ed. Note: Thanks again Brad. Keep it going PNWers! Regatta web site here. Results so far are lovely.

San Juan 24 NAs Draws 12 Boats to Beautiful Oak Harbor

Photo by Ryan Nowicki of Captured Moments Photography

Ekono Juan from Orcas Island Repeats as San Juan 24 North American Champion

Bruce from Bellingham and Return from Seattle Are Second and Third

Returning for the seventh straight year, the San Juan 24 Fleet raced in the waters of Saratoga Passage and Penn Cove on June 24 and 25 to contest for the 2017 SJ 24 North American Championship. Twelve boats from around Puget Sound, including 7 from CYC-Seattle (and , came to contest in shifting and variable winds – as in past years, good starts, sharp weather leg sailing, clear air sailing downwind and consistent crew work proved the difference amongst the closely-packed fleet.

CYC’s Return leads Snappy Tom (39608) of CYC, Ehu Kai (710) of Oak Harbor and eventual winner Ekono Juan (442) of Orcas Island around a leeward gate. Photo by Steve Hucke.

Oak Harbor Yacht Club was the center of activity, and the Race Committee, headed by PRO Byron Skubi of Oak Harbor, got off 9 races (one discard) over the two days in challenging wind conditions, with 6 races on Saturday and 3 more on Sunday. The volunteers of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, including OHYC Commodore Avis Berney, were assisted by Chuck Skewes and Bryan Paine of Ullman Sails, prime sponsor of the regatta.

Saturday’s racing started in Saratoga Passage just outside of Penn Cove in a northerly that started to die as the boats headed downwind against a building adverse current. Thee race was shortened to finish at the leeward gate, but even so only five boats crossed the finish line, with Grauer Geist from Seattle, Ekono Juan from Orcas Island and Renaissance from Oak Harbor, finishing on a spinnaker, and Seattle’s Fancy and Return on a jib; the 7 remaining boats were not able to cross the finish line within the time limit, with five boats frustratingly within one or two boat lengths of the finish line (Oak Harbor’s Ehu Kai was a yard away before being flushed back by the tide and the time lime expired!). After a delay, the westerly finally began to fill in Penn Cove and the action moved there for the rest of the regatta.

A long difficult second race, with many wind shifts and varying wind patterns across the Cove greeted the racers, won by Ekono Juan, followed by more consistent westerlies as the day progressed for races three through six. Mike Klep’s Bruce from Bellingham handled with day best with an unprecedented four straight dominating wins in the last four races – this was a bit of a surprise as Bruce did not race in the 2016 event and finished 13th in 2015 and 7th in 2014 – but its yellow spinnaker was clear ahead in each of those races.

After Saturday’s six races, Bruce and Ekono Juan were tied for first, with Bruce ahead on a tie breaker, each with 10 points (after the discard), with Return and regatta organizer Dave Steckman’s Renaissance 6 and 8 points, respectively further behind.

While Ekono Juan, Return and others were often starting at the pin end, Mike had Bruce generally the RC

Photo by Steve Hucke

Boat side of mid-start line. “We concentrated on having room to leeward so we could put the bow down and power up the boat,” said Kleps. *We have a 10-year old jib and main from Return that don’t go fast in crowded situations, so we need clear air. We would tack to get to the right side of Penn Cove early, and then tack back to starboard before we got to the lay line. It seemed to us that many boats overstood the starboard lay line. Generally the current and a lift at the windward mark would get us around the mark. Then we gybed early so we had clear air downwind, and it seemed to stretch us out. Most other boats went further south before gybing, but we need the clear air.”

In the first Sunday race, Ekono Juan, in its typical pin-end start at the gun with speed, was able to tack to port, clear the fleet, and led for the rest of the regatta. Ekono Juan stayed ahead of Bruce in the last two races with a first and third, to claim its second straight and third overall SJ 24 North American Championship. Sailing with Ryan Forbes on Ekono Juan were Ian Wareham (helm), Chris Kaufman and Scott Wallace. Mike Kleps on Bruce was joined by Scott Wilson, Jeff Goodman and Tom Anderson.

The fleet was highly competitive, with close racing throughout with the trailing boats not far behind the leaders. Eight of the 12 boats had one or more top-three finishes, and four different boats claimed at least one first place. No one club dominated the results, with the top four finishers coming from four different yacht clubs.

As one first time Seattle participant summarized, “What a great place to have a regatta! I have cruised but never raced here before. Good close racing, interesting currents and winds, snow capped mountain ranges to the west and east, a fine hosting yacht club, great regatta organization, and lots of fun people. I am so glad I made the effort to participate!”

–Ken Johnson, Grauer Geist

2017 Final Results:

 

Place Boat Skipper Yacht Club Points
1 Ekono Juan Ryan Forbes Orcas Island 15
2 Bruce Mike Kleps Bellingham 21
3 Return Mark Bradner Corinthian Seattle 23
4 Renaissance Dave Steckman Oak Harbor 32
5 Contact Andrew Fitzgerald Bellingham 42
6 Fancy Jeff Kendall Corinthian Seattle 50
7 Ehu Kai Bill Walker Oak Harbor 55
8 Sweet Jesus Sean Busby Corinthian Seattle 56
9 Snappy Tom Gil Lund Corinthian Seattle 61
10 Grauer Geist Ken Johnson Corinthian Seattle 64
11 Miss Mayhem Melissa Davies Corinthian Seattle 66
12 Wiki Wiki Zachery Warren Corinthian Seattle 78