Round the County, Part 2, with Beef Stew

Round the County, Part 2, with Beef Stew

After our initial Round the County coverage, we were called out by Vin Colgin in the comments section: “More small boat results. Local super yacht results are interesting, but not relatable. I want to see more < 30′ news to increase participation.”

Hey, Vin, when you’re right, you’re right. I didn’t get a <30′ skipper or crew to report here, but your comment did inspire a tale from another classic that many could relate to. For the <30′ tale, I suggest you go to Ben Braden’s story of the race.

Alert reader Jarred Swalwell chimed in with his tale of crewing with Megan Kogut on the RTC on the Carter 37 Arrow: “Yes, it’s tempting to wax poetic about big, pretty expensive boats. Did anyone notice the ’73 IOR one tonner out there rocking the BBQ, radar tower + solar panels and 30 year old dacron? For a period, I had a lovely time with one elbow casually hooked around a shroud while eating hot beef stew and admiring a Moore 24 off our starboard bow plane a little on the downwind run on day 2. This just before I went back to admiring my beef stew. We finished near to the top third in both class and fleet. We had cushions to sit on, a diesel heater, substantially Moore than a pot to piss in, and of course cold beer. I did enjoy watching the sporty boats, they are pretty. At times, I even enjoyed passing the sporty boats. But seriously, it would be nice to see a few more comfortable plain white sloops out there having a good time, RTC is a terrific event. BTW, props to the Cal 34!!”

(It’s worth noting that Ben Braden ate a hot lunch on his own Moore 24 Moore Uff Da in the same race from his well-known barbecue while finishing eighth overall)

But more than that, Jarred’s and three other boats utilized raceQs to track the race, and compare notes afterward. racQs is new to me, and pretty interesting. I haven’t figured out how to embed the video but if you follow the links below you’ll see the tracks play out for the entire race. The screenshots are from raceQs. This would definitely be fun to set up with your favorite enemies on the race course to have something to talk about afterward.

Megan and I were on Arrow, an IOR boat.  We use raceQs to track and analyze what happened, a few other boats do as well so it’s a pretty interesting watch.  

The “fleet” going around Patos.
The screen as it looks in the helmsman’s view.

Saturday is here.  You can see the shut down at the end and where a few boats (Bravo Zulu and Lodos) figured out the counter current on the other side of Battle Rock which paid off pretty big for them.

Sunday we stayed out and walked away from the short tackers in faster boats.  On the downwind we had to fly a smaller storm kite as our big kite had a tear.  But staying to the east on the course kept us away from a hole that a number of other boats got stuck into on the west.

–Jarred Salwell

 

 

There are a lot of us who can look around just about any harbor an identify “former” raceboats that still have a lot of fun and a few wins still in them.

Ydra

Take Arrow. In 1973 Dick Carter was at the top of of the design game, with the help of none other than the Northwest’s own Bob Perry who was working for Carter at the time. This pinched-end, wide-beamed boat was the bomb, and still sails very well, even with Dacron. The design derived from the world One Ton champion Ydra. The faults with IOR boats of that era are well known, but they’re voluminous and usually fitted with decent galleys, heads and berths. They’re not going to keep up with a modern well-designed racer-cruiser, and they’re never going to plane (at least you don’t want to be on them if they do), but they definitely have style and sail well.

There are of course, plenty of other non-IOR boats that can be talked about (and raced) as well. So while it’s often easier to write about the expensive end of the fleet, get us the tales and pictures and we’ll certainly tell the stories from the heart of the fleet too.

Bruce’s Brief’s Nov 17, 18, & 19 and the Pineapple Express

Bruce’s Brief’s Nov 17, 18, & 19 and the Pineapple Express

No doubt, winter is here and is just getting started. The really interesting part of this weekend’s charts are the 500MB charts which show the jet stream undulating over the Pacific into the Aleutians, then back down to Hawaii before coming back into the Pacific Northwest, can you say Pineapple Express?

For those of you that decided to wait until this weekend to bring the boat back from Round the County, the best day was probably today, however, being mere mortals and having jobs may have prevented that. The next best day will be tomorrow, just get an early start and if you’re comfortable leaving early so you get to Deception Pass around 0830, that will be the tail of the ebb before slack at 0930. Then go down the inside to avoid what will be more wind and more lump in Admiralty Inlet. This will also get you south or north to Vancouver before 2100 hours when that next front will start manifesting itself over the area. By early Sunday morning expect Gale warnings for SE breeze (35-40 knots) off the coast and in the eastern Straits of JdF and southern part of the Strait of Georgia. The front will pass around noon with the wind moderating by mid-Sunday afternoon.

For those of you going cruising over the Thanksgiving Holiday, really pay attention to the weather as we are going to get pummeled by a series of fronts coming into the Pacific Northwest. Next Wednesday afternoon might be a good time to leave work early and go down to the boat to check the mooring lines and make sure all your chafe gear is in place.

Have a great weekend.

Round the County Wrap, Glory and Wicked Wahine with the Wins

Round the County Wrap, Glory and Wicked Wahine with the Wins

John Buchan’s Glory won the ORC Division of the Round the County Race, despite a smokin’ first to finish on day two by Steve Travis’ Smoke. The “newest” member of the big boat fleet made its first racing appearance as Steve Johnson’s Mist.

Crossfire’s Day 2 Track

Of course Mist is already known in the area as Braveheart and then Valkyrie. Crossfire definitely has her hands full with all these TP 52s flying around. Nigel Barron of Crossfire reports, “We hooked some kelp halfway down San Juan Island that didn’t help, and really had some issues keeping the boat going in the lumps.”

The PHRF podium was filled with Division “0” boats, led by Darrin Towe’s Melges 32 Wicked Wahine. Carl Buchan ended up 10 minutes back in Madrona and Shorett/Burzycki’s Farr 395 Ace finished third with a particularly strong first day.

It’s worth noting that two Moore 24s cracked the top 10 overall with Bruzer in fourth and Moore Uff Da in eighth. That design never ages.

All photos by Jan Anderson, and of course there are many more. Please support Jan.

Local regular Bob Brunius won his class with the J/120 Time Bandit, but it wasn’t without a bit of self-reflection. “After having a disastrous race last year because of two faulty tactical decisions I made, I was thinking toxic thoughts about my ability to do this racing thing anymore. This year was different. Each day this race I made a call based on local knowledge that separated us from the fleet significantly and paid hugely. Confidence restored.”

The mighty Santa Cruz 33 Muffin hit an unmarked spire northeast side of Patos and retired under her own power to Anacortes, with no threat of sinking. Skipper Garry Greth said about the incident, “It is faster go in there for current relief and pressure in a southerly, but you can’t go in that far!” Note we’re hoping to do a full on piece on Muffin‘s remarkable renovation over the last few years here on sailish.com.

And finally, the results of the RTC Youth Sailing Challenge are in with Wild Rumpus earning $2131 for youth sailing, followed by Crazy Salsa with $1872 and Time Bandit with $1335.

RTC Photo Finish Vids and Bruce’s Weather Brief for Saturday Night thru Monday and “Home Delivery”

If you’re up in the Islands then you are already feeling what’s coming tomorrow. Smith Island currently showing 28 with gusts to 32 from SE and the barometer is still dropping. So while there will be wind in the Straits, it still looks like the starting area could be a problem. Once you get just a little ways south you should be sailing into a building southeasterly where along the very bottom of the course you could see 15-25 with higher gusts. By the time you get to Davidson Rock it should back off to 15 from the SE and then steadily drop as you approach the finish. On the run north, there will tend to be more wind on the west side of the course.

The real question about getting heading for home on Sunday comes down “well, do you feel lucky?” If you’re trying to get back to Seattle and you think you can make it to Port Townsend before 1800 hours go ahead and roll the dice. The next blast of SE will fill in around midnight but you will still be in 15-25 knots on and off all the way back. After midnight expect 25+ from the SE. Regardless, I would probably park the boat at Orcas, enjoy the post-race party, and salute your fellow competitors. Plan to bring the boat down later, much later. Just check out the surface charts.

If you’re headed back to Vancouver, and you finish by 1300-1400, the key will be to be back at your slip in Vancouver before midnight. For the run north, you’ll have consistently 15-25 from the SE. After midnight expect it to build to 25-30 with higher gusts.

Contrary to what my friend Nigel says, the logs don’t sink below the surface after dark. So be careful out there.

Today’s Half – A Good Day’s Sail

As far as the racing went today, well, word it was a good day on the water with no rain. The results.

Our friends on Crossfire were quick to get out the following track.

Crossfire’s Track

The videos, by Malcolm MacNeil, show the duel to the finish between Crossfire and Glory. Crossfire just beat them across the line, But Glory won the day on corrected time in ORC. Over on the PHRF side, it was apparently a Moore kind of day with Moore 24s taking the top three spots in Division 5 with the top Moore, Bruzer, grabbing first in fleet. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in tomorrow’s blow. After all is said and done, I’ll be looking for material (stories, photos, vids) to post. Hit me. -KH

UW Singlehanders take on College Nationals

UW Singlehanders take on College Nationals

The UW Sailing team sent singlehanders Erik Skeel and Laura Smit to Nationals in Florida. They’ll bring back some hard-earned experience to this very fun, very active team. Go Dawgs! Here’s Erik Skeel’s report: 

Laura Smit and Erik Skeel

Each year in September, college sailors from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia compete in Lasers to qualify for college sailing singlehanded nationals. This year the qualifying regatta was held at Shilshole. After one day of good racing Laura Smit from University of Washington was leading the woman’s fleet in radials, and I held first place in the men’s fleet in the full rig by just one point. In typical Northwest fashion the second day of the regatta refused to have enough wind to race. The Radial Fleet didn’t get off any races so Laura earned the woman’s berth to nationals. One race was completed in the men’s fleet, but it bumped me to second, leaving University of British Columbia in first. UBC decided not to go to nationals despite earning the berth, so I found myself booking plane tickets to Florida for nationals.

Singlehanded Nationals was held the first weekend of November, so as Seattle was getting covered in snow, Laura and I were flying to sunny Florida. Laser Performance outfitted all 18 sailors in each fleet with brand new Laser hulls, spars, rigging, and Mark II sails for the full rigs. To the other sailors from schools such as Stanford, Yale, and College of Charleston, this probably was not far from what they usually raced with, but I was blown away; I’d never even sailed with a Mark II sail. It quickly became clear that I was one of the only sailors without a paid varsity coach and I think I was the only sailor in the men’s fleet without a coach present who could offer support and advice on the water. The atmosphere was a stark contrast to the college sailing I was used to in the Pacific Northwest, but I tried not to let that discourage me.

Report time was 9:00am on Saturday, but everyone was already rigged by then and soon after began launching for a 10:00am start. The wind was a solid 5-8 knots in the morning until it dropped around 2:00. Racing was tough, but I had expected that as I was competing against the best college sailors in the nation. After all, among those in the regatta was 2016 Olympian Stefano Peschiera and others who will probably campaign for the Olympics. Due to the lack of wind in the previous afternoon, the first warning on Sunday was 9:00am. The wind, though slightly weaker than the previous morning, was shiftier, making for more variable scores among the competitors. With one day of racing under my belt, I had a better idea of how to approach such a competitive start and how to fight for clear air while still playing the shifts and sailing a strategic path. There was no room for error with such a talented fleet. If I ever missed a shift, took a risk that didn’t pay, or lost too much speed on a maneuver, I’d find myself suddenly fighting not to get last. Despite the incredible competition from sailors who had much better training and resources than me, when I sailed my best I was able to hang with the best sailors. On Sunday I had a couple races where I rounded the first mark in the top five. It was an honor to represent the Northwest college district at nationals. Men’s Results. Women’s Results.

Erik Skeel, University of Washington Sailing Team

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

There’s a reason why Round the County (RTC) is one of the most popular races in the Pacific Northwest and this weekend will only continue to further that reputation. The course, in addition to being just beautiful, is always a challenge with interesting rivers of tidal current and winds that do their best to be unpredictable. As we get closer to the start the different models are not very much in agreement and it’s easy to see why, just check out the current surface analysis and then the forecast chart for tomorrow.

We currently have a weak, 1009 MB, low-pressure system off of the central Oregon coast trying to move inland. There is a deepening low-pressure system off of SE Alaska which is riding the jet stream (500MB chart) towards the Pacific Northwest and will start to impact us Sunday night and into next week. Delivery skippers heading south may want to park the boat after the race. If you’re headed north and back to Vancouver, be prepared for some breeze. I’ll update this on Sunday.

Tidal Currents

Peapod Rocks

0538      Slack

0912      Max Flood            2.14 knts

1255      Slack

1515      Max Ebb                 1.66 knts

1950      Slack

Turn Point

1252      Slack

1537      Max Ebb                 1.38 knts

2011      Slack

For Saturday that weak low-pressure system will be gone and we’ll have a pair of weak high-pressure systems inland slowing the approach of that low from SE Alaska. In addition, we’ll have a weak low-pressure trough off our coast ahead of that approaching cold front. So what does that mean for racing? Be prepared for just about anything. Since most of the time, we race in windward-leeward format, the reaching equipment is usually buried in the gear locker. Get out those barber haulers, snatch blocks and reaching sheets and make sure they are readily available along with the drifter. Those crews that trim and change gears aggressively will be the winners. While the forecast may be for small craft advisories on both Saturday and Sunday, the timing of the breeze is very much in question. Also, the wind will be from the southeast however where it will be is still a very big question.

Click to enlarge image:

For the start expect light air, downwind conditions with the wind building slightly as you get north of Lawrence Point on Orcas. From Lawrence to Patos you will essentially be dead downwind so you’ll be watching the gybe angles and your SOG with the flood tide. Also be aware of the limiting marks found in the SI’s. The really interesting part of the race will be from Patos to Turn Point as the southeasterly is going to have a hard time getting over Orcas and back to touching down in Boundary Pass. After 1300 hours you’ll at least have the tide with you. This is where the models are very divergent as to when the steadier breeze might fill in. One model has Crossfire finishing at around 1300 hrs while another has them in around 1430 hrs.

Sunday will be quite a different story as that low gets closer to the race course. This shouldn’t be a gear busting thrash to Davidson Rock however you could see puffs to 20 knots from SE the closer you get to Davidson. Unfortunately, the problem may be the starting line and where the committee decides to set it. You may recall in 2015 that after a wild Saturday, the Sunday start was set in a real hole and a number of contenders were unable to even make the start line. Those that made it had a nice beat in a southeasterly after they got past Lime Kiln Point.

Tidal Currents Sunday

Haro Strait

0812      Slack

1036      Max Flood            1.61 knts

1315      Slack

1656      Max Ebb                 1.61 knts

2242      Slack

Rosario Strait

0900      Max Flood            1.5 knts

1300      Slack

1630      Max Ebb                 1.94 knts

2048      Slack

In addition to the challenge of getting away from the starting line, you’ll also be sailing into a building flood tide until you get past False Bay. Keep track of COG and SOG until you are solidly into the current that’s going your way. Ideally, you’d like to finish before 1300 hrs. The current GRIB files have Crossfire finishing just after noon. Think about starting with the headsail in the port groove so you’d hoist the next headsail while on starboard tack, then do a short hitch to port away from the Island to drop the old headsail.

Besides getting all the reach gear ready make sure safety comes first. Have a great weekend and if you’ve got AIS please leave it on for the race so I can armchair race along with you! Thanks

 

Bruce’s Round the County Delivery Brief

Seems like everyone not already up in the Islands, is going to leave on Friday, which should work just fine. Tides will not be great however what wind there is will be from the SE.

As you can see from the surface charts there is a weak low-pressure system off the coast that is moving to the SE with an attached frontal system. This will dissipate on Friday and will result in unstable conditions for the Race over the weekend.

For delivery on Friday, if you’re leaving from Seattle, expect 10-15 knots from the SE which will lighten to 5-10 from the SE by noon or about the time you’ll be crossing the Straits. If your mast is short enough you can go up the inside and through the Swinomish Slough, just be careful of the shallow spots in the Slough.

Tides at Bush Point

0606      Max Flood            2.76 knts

1118      Slack

1406      Max Ebb                 1.57 knts

1648      Slack

1918      Max Flood            1.35 knts

Tides at Rosario Straits

0430      Slack

0712      Max Flood            2.06 knts

1112      Slack

1430      Max Ebb                 1.44 knts

1824      Slack

1918      Max Flood            .25 knts

Preliminary Race forecast

Who can forget two years ago when we had a downwind start and Crossfire made it from the starting line to Alden Point in 45 minutes. It won’t be that good this year but it will be similar. Remember to follow the SI’s and report your time at the Alden Point because from Alden Point to the finish could get very light and flukey.

I’ll have more on Friday.

RTC Youth Sailing Challenge – Final Leg Starts Now!

RTC Youth Sailing Challenge – Final Leg Starts Now!

The Round the County Race was, in my opinion, already the best big boat race in the Northwest. Race organizers just made it even better. As part of this year’s race, there’s a fundraising program (and competition!) to benefit junior sailing in the region.

Longtime racer Bob Brunius is the driver behind the Youth Sailing Challenge. He’s seen what some support can do for junior sailing. As much as the Orcas Island YC would like to support youth sailing, there really needed to be a separate entity capable of receiving 501c3 tax deductible donations to provide meaningful support to youth sailing. “In our region we set up Sail Orcas, and were able to hired the very talented coach Hannah Tuson-Turner part time. That has really helped our program. Orcas’ girl’s team went to the championship in California and our team racing group went to the nationals. It’s really building, as is youth sailing in the Northwest.”

So, what about the Youth Challenge? Well, if you go to this link, you’ll find a short description, a link to donate (choosing the specific program – if any – to which you want to contribute and choosing under which boat you want to contribute). There’s also a link to “Challenge Standings.” Challenge Standings? Hey, why not make a race of it. It’s kinda like boats meeting on the water…..

Currently Wild Rumpus is leading, followed by Crazy Salsa and Brunius’ Time Bandit. Hey, a lot can change on the final leg of a race, and the gun doesn’t sound on this challenge until Sunday night at 2000 hrs.

Here’s the link to the program. Donate!

Kids LOVE Lasers

So, while you’re prepping for, sailing in or putting the boat to bed from RTC, think about the exciting and enthusiastic youth sailing that is emerging all over this region. They’re the RTC sailors of the future, Olympic representatives etc. If you haven’t seen the high school sailing scene lately, you’re missing out. It’s really exciting. Also, more funds means more access for a lot of young sailors who might not have the chance otherwise.

And don’t forget, Bruce Hedrick is going to come up with delivery and race weather outlooks for RTC over the next two days. Check back often.

Bruce’s Brief November 3 – Snow!

The view this morning is looking to the north at the San Juan Islands and to the northwest at Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Malahat Pass, all of which have a dusting of SNOW! So for those of you getting ready to head out for a weekend on the water, dress appropriately because it is COLD! This should also serve as a reminder for those getting ready for Round the County next weekend to dig out the long johns, pocket warmers, foot warmers, safety harnesses and tethers. The really long range forecast (and probably NOT very accurate) shows a cranking onshore flow for that weekend. Hint, tomorrow looks like a great day to run the boat north and don’t just go part way, start very early and do it in one day because Sunday the breeze will be from the north and cold.

As you look at the charts today you can see why we got the snow with a high in southern BC and a low off our coast. As these systems shift to the east this will bring us light air Saturday becoming southerly in the late afternoon. On Sunday we’ll be under the influence of the backside of the low which will bring us a northerly, not too strong but very cool.

The 7 November chart shows a 984MB low combining with a 988MB low and coming right towards the Pacific Northwest but stalling off our coast as the coastal buffer zone kicks in. We’ll be watching this as some of you have been asking about weather for doing the delivery north starting Thursday or Friday. We’ll provide a Wednesday update for deliveries and the Race forecast on Friday.

If you have any specific questions about the Race, please get those to me by Thursday night and I’ll do my best to get them answered.

Also, Kurt did a great job with the survey he sent out and it obviously hit a nerve because he got a pretty large number of replies. Take some time to review the results and if it inspires you to post comments on the blog or send them directly to Kurt, feel free. It’s all good.

Be safe and enjoy the weekend!

And the Survey Says….

The response to the post and survey I put out there October 19 was excellent. Now it’s time to start doing something with the results!

It’s no surprise, you Northwest sailors LOVE sailboat racing. 250 of you took the saving handicapping racing survey, and over half (!) came through with additional written comments and suggestions. So, not only do you love it, you’re interested in getting more boats out there!

Blog posts obviously aren’t the solution. Ideas and action are.

But before any of this, listening is always a good idea. Reading through 24 pages of single-spaced comments may seem intimidating to Joe and Jill Racer want to do, but I think race organizers, handicappers and yacht club officials might find it interesting and a great well of ideas. Very well worth the read. There are some rambles, but there’s truth in those as well. (A glass of wine or a beer might help wash it all down. Not all of it will be easy to take for race officials and handicappers. As one commentator said at the end of his rant “I have more but my drink is empty now.” So it’s fair, if they’re drinking when writing, you can drink while reading.) I taken out names unless they have an official role (YC Commodore, owner of a business etc.) and in a couple places edited a little to keep us clear of personal attacks and on course for solutions.

Following are the survey results. No, they’re not rigorously scientific but some trends are certainly clear. Please share with your club or event organizers.

While the results and the comments are all here, if you have a Google account you can go over the results as Google presents them here. That provides better access to the precise survey data. Note that the comments pdf includes comments from the blog and emails I received, which are not on the survey.

In a subsequent post I’m going to come up with a hit list of actions (in light of this survey) that sailish.com can take, as well as yacht clubs, race organizers and racers.

Click on any image to enlarge.

As far as who took the survey, there was a bit of encouraging news. I was afraid it would all be “old folk,” but a full 40% of respondents were between 18-49. Sadly, but not surprisingly women made up only 12%. Most were skippers, most were very experienced and only 14% sailed dinghies. The audience was predominantly from the Central Sound, though we had input from all over, even out of the area. The big pie chart here is racer’s attitude toward the sport – i.e. whether or not it’s lack of participation is a big concern. The resounding answer was yes, to varying degrees, including a sizeable portion (12.7%) who feel “I love racing so much I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Here’s where we’re hopefully starting to get some valuable and surprising data. The usual suspects, cost and handicapping issues, were certainly there but perhaps not to the degree one might expect. Rules, physical demands and the seriousness of racing were all non-factors. The clearest message from this graphic, and one echoed in the comments, is that getting and maintaining a crew is a major issue. Not surprisingly, few people found something better to do than racing sailboats.

As we go into the meat of the survey by asking them what would get them on the water, clear trends seem to emerge. More casual events, a better handicapping system, more shorthanded classes, new courses, an organized season championship and better socializing arrangements are desired. Late afternoon/early evening racing on weekends intrigued a few people. (Several people commented that Sunday – instead of Saturday – racing would be better) There are a lot of racers who want to split the lightweight sport boats from the heavier boats. The graphic that really caught my eye is that many people wanted a more welcoming atmosphere.

The really good news with all of this is that the things people want are truly achievable. A more welcoming atmosphere, new courses and an organized season championship are all doable.

The handicapping issue? Well, that’s one of the things we’ll pick up in a future post.