Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta – Bellingham Bay Sends Dinghies Scurrying Home Saturday, Delivers Perfect Conditions Sunday

Flying Junior dinghy found. Skipper and crew nowhere to be found. Where are the kids?

That scenario has got to be a race organizer’s worst nightmare. But that’s what the race organizers at Bellingham YC’s Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta faced for a few moments on Saturday.

Quickly, skipper and crew were found on shore, quite healthy and happy and somewhat oblivious to the commotion they’d caused. Regatta chairman Mike Poulos let them know that they’d freaked everybody out and if you leave the course, particularly if you leave your boat there, TELL SOMEBODY.

The good news is that everybody was fine. Even the boat came through unscathed! No doubt lessons were learned all the way around.

But the regatta’s real hero was Carlos Abisambra. When the wind squalls ran through Bellingham Bay just as the dinghies were reaching the starting area for an 11 am start, the Bay was littered with overturned boats. At least eight were over simultaneously. It was quite a sight.

I’d say a couple of gusts were in the low to mid 30 knots, but the Bellingham Buoy never recorded more than 30. However, the private “Viewpoint” station on shore, cited by Sailflow, had a gust of 45 mph (39 knots) and another of 40 mph. Regardless, it was nasty.viewcrest

Carlos smartly tucked himself and his Laser in some protected waters to wait out the worst of the winds and see how things played out. Sure enough the race committee rather pointedly sent those of us in the starting area home, probably about the time they found the empty FJ. Carlos wondered if he could help, and headed to a different, nearby capsized FJ with two tired and cold girls who were clearly struggling. With the help of the less exhausted of the two girls, Carlos righted the boat and saw them on their way home. In the meantime, he was returned to his drifting Laser and sailed back in.

Carlos Abisambra in action.

Once in the harbor, he and others including Mike Powell and Miles Johannessen of the 505 fleet heard that an abandoned Laser Radial was just about to run up on the rocks, so the two grabbed a RIB and headed out. Carlos once again took to the water, swam to the Radial, righted it and sailed it home. A video of that rescue by Peter Hallett is here.

Carlos took a well-earned nap that afternoon, but found the energy and courage to sing karaoke that night. And the next day he overcame a rough start to finish third in the Laser fleet.

While Bellingham Bay dished up unsailable conditions Saturday, it came through with flying colors on Sunday. The day started with 12-15, diminishing to <8 for the sixth and final race. The RC did a great job keeping everything moving, and all the classes enjoyed great racing. The 505s were out in force with a fleet of 21 boats, with Paul Von Grey and Kerry Poe winning by a single point over the second and third place finishers who finished tied. The Tasars showed up with five boats, the Lasers had 11 starters and the Radials and FJs has six boats each. Results here.

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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