Now What Do We Do with the Survey?

Now What Do We Do with the Survey?

“Now what?”

Dalton Bergan posed that excellent question a couple days ago as we were sailing in from some frostbiting. The survey we did here on got a lot of attention, and revealed a few important elements that might be holding Northwest handicap sailboat racing back, and the comments were generally on point and showed a lot of passion. But the question remains, now what?

The survey made it clear (as if it wasn’t already) that racers are concerned about the future of the sport and open to change. Sure, we can go on putting a happy face on what we do have and just sail along on the same course, or we can make some changes and see what happens. From my standpoint, a few small but significant changes can act as catalysts, and energy and participation will follow naturally. The game is great. Boats and equipment are better than ever. We are blessed to live in one of the world’s great sailing venues. Some of the changes are simple and obvious, we just have to get our butts off the rail and do them.

I’ll kick it off with things that became clear in the survey and that I feel can be easily changed. In the end, though, it’s up to racers stepping up to create the solutions through clubs, fleets and race organizers. Remember, this sport (and in our region in particular) was do-it-yourself in the first place. A few people had boats and thought racing them would be fun, so they came up with courses, rules, clubs and handicap systems. And that’s how we can get it back on track, by taking the initiative.

Clean air? What clean air?

Here goes.


  1. More Welcoming Atmosphere

One of the things that came out of the survey, and it will be a surprise to many, is that our sport does not present a very welcoming atmosphere. It’s a no-brainer that this must be changed. How to do it? How about setting up “greeters.” Kind of like Walmart but with more to offer.

Every yacht club, handicap system, broker, rigger and sailmaker should have a list of greeters. should too. As soon as someone expresses interest in racing, a greeter should be in touch and help them get involved. Specifically, if you’re willing to do this, get your name to your club, sailmaker etc. When someone expresses interest, the clubs etc should send in the greeter.

The greeter can give the lowdown on the clubs, race schedule, basic regional tactics etc. I have a feeling once this gets started, it’ll take care of itself.


  1. Light vs. Heavy

This was one of the clearest issues brought up by the survey. It’s just no fun sailing a 15,000lb boat with accommodations vs a <1000 pound boat. There’s no way to properly handicap those kinds of differences. Race organizers, split those light sportboats from heavier boats with accommodations. It might mean bigger rating spreads or smaller classes, but it’s what the sailors want.


  1. Crew Lists

According to the survey (in particular the comments) finding crew is a big issue. To their credit, clubs and organizations around the area have crew lists, but they’re spread out and underutilized. There were some specific solutions suggested in the survey responses. I’m going to get one going on and see if I can make it the go-to. It’ll take some work, but I’ll shoot to have it up and running before Center Sound.


  1. New Courses.

Note to clubs: Racers indicate they’d like new courses. It wasn’t all that long ago that Race to the Straits and Round the County were “new.” Hanging onto traditional courses is easy, but racers are ready for some new challenges.

What about thinking really outside of the box? It worked for Jake Beattie and the R2AK.

A fine reach

Bergan and Ben Glass have been contemplating some kind of adventure race, maybe involving running up mountains as a leg of the course. As a runner, I’ve always been fascinated by the Three Peaks Yacht Race in the UK. There are enough sailors/runners/cyclists/skiers that all sorts of things could be imagined.



  1. Singlehanded/Doublehanded Racing

Two-thirds of respondents think more single and double-handed racing would boost participation. Look at how popular Race to the Straits is!

Race Organizers have offered shorthanded classes, but if history is any indication they’re not going to promote them and are a little leery of the whole thing. It’s up to the singlehanded and doublehanded racers themselves to grab the boat by the pulpit and get organized. You might emulate the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society. This year’s singlehanded Solo Mac Race had 27 starters and 24 finishes. This is an extremely tough 300-mile race. But it doesn’t go through the usual club scene. With a more active and organized shorthanded group, I’ll bet the clubs bend over backward to accommodate.


  1. Community

The most successful classes in every country have strong associations and senses of community. In Seattle, the J/24 and Thistle are great examples. Internationally, it’s hard to beat the Star and Snipe classes. The Fast 40+ Class in England is the high-end version of such a community.

You can organize by boat type, yacht club affiliation, rating band etc. We’re talking chalk talks, bbqs, post race parties etc.

The J/105 fleet remains healthy and active with a five boat fleet at FWB.

Yacht Clubs are the obvious places to start, but I’d suggest if that’s not easy, maybe hosting a BBQ for other boats in your size/rating range or boat type. The Seattle J/105s have regular post race gatherings, which no doubt is a big reason for that fleet’s growth.

This sense of community enhances everything.


  1. Get Kids Involved

If we want to produce young racers, we have to get them onboard. Talk it up with your own kids or neighbor kids. Call the local community sailing program and ask if they know of any kids who want to go racing.

And ­– this is important – take them onboard sometimes, even if it means a couple kids are sitting on the low side down below on a beat.

Community sailing teachers and coaches – if you know of a kid who just can’t get enough time on the water in his/her FJ, give a call or two or come to the sailish crew page (when it’s operational!) Let’s hook them up.

Here’s one more thought, skippers head down to the local community sailing center to offer some coaching or support. Maybe you’ll run into a high schooler who will end up being your port trimmer for the next five years.


  1. Save Money

According to the survey, cost was not as much an impediment to racing as one might expect. It was still there.

Partnerships Want to race but can’t see spending all that money on campaigning your own boat. Find a partner. For every unhappy partnership there’s a happy one and the cost savings are immense. Take turns with the boat. Have the resources to “do it right.” This also speaks to the time issue. Many of us don’t have time to do full-on racing program. But half the races might be possible.

Lease program See all those J/80s out there? The Seattle Sailing Club has an interesting J/80 program. You can buy a J/80 and put it into charter. Moorage is paid, the bottom gets inspected weekly (and scrubbed monthly) and you get to race it. Owners usually have two sets of sails, one for use when the boats are in use from club members, and of course the racing set you bring onboard for the racing. This type of setup has a lot of appeal. Check out the SSC info here. Some clubs around the world have their own fleets, which are available to members and maintained by dues and fees. Solutions like these seem very appropriate with the rising costs.


  1. Boat of the Year

One thing that has been missing around Seattle is a real, codified boat of the year award. My friends at 48 North Magazine have their Top 25, but with the vagaries of PHRF ratings and class assignments it loses a lot of its meaning. I suggest that either a body like the Seattle Area Racing Council or Vancouver Area Racing Council set up ORC class breaks in advance, and a boat of the year racing schedule. This could also be done if clubs could work together.

(Yep, that ORC comment is a hint of what I’m going to take on next time, handicapping issues. Oh boy.)





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.

Paul Bieker Moves On from the 35th America’s Cup

Paul Bieker Moves On from the 35th America’s Cup

“Right now I’m not really all that interested in the next America’s Cup.”

Paul Bieker’s response is understandable. He poured untold hours and no doubt part of himself into the ridiculously fast AC catamarans over the last couple of years. They did everything (and more!) than could be expected, and now the class is being cast aside as the Kiwi Cup holders and the Italian Challengers of Record come up with a new monohull class.

The Seattle designer has been with Oracle since the last time monohulls were used in AC 32 in 2007. He was there through Oracle’s challenge that wrested the Cup from Ernesto Bartarelli, with the resounding win by the massive trimaran USA-17 He’s always had a big hand in the engineering, and the boats have all held together amazingly well. During the last Cup in Bermuda, he had a much bigger hand in the design, coming up with the platform, foil and wing locations and myriad other details that kept the speedsters moving.

“I’m proud of the boats we did in Bermuda” he says, which is a lot coming from a man who doesn’t like drawing attention to himself. The boats sailed well in 7.5 to 22 knots and were foiling around the course in 8 knots of wind. During the previous Cup they thought it would take 16 knots for that kind of foiling.

Of course Bieker would have liked to see the next Cup sailed in similar boats. “There’s a lot of room for the catamarans to get even better,” Bieker says. “It’s sad to see all the progress we made thrown aside.”

As it stands nobody, not even Bieker, knows what the next boat is going to look like. A couple things seem certain. The boats won’t be as fast as they were this year and if they go with soft sails they’ll be a lot more expensive than a fixed wing.

Tweaking the Oracle

Oracle did get faster during the finals and, as happened in America’s Cup 34, Bieker had a hand in it.

There were three major changes that added speed, but together they weren’t enough to make the kind of comeback the 72-footer made in 2013 with the 72-footer.

“We caught on to a few things our analyses didn’t get right,” Bieker explained. The first of these was weight. The analysis said getting down to the minimum wasn’t that critical, but in real life it was. So Oracle went on a diet to get to minimum.

Another area was the rudder wings, which were at the maximum size to help with righting moment. It turns out that cutting them down to reduce drag a bit was more helpful than the extra righting moment.

Finally, Bieker added to the tips of the high-speed foils to extend their range into the lower winds.

The changes made Oracle a bit faster and noticeably more skittish. It wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with the well-oiled Kiwi machine.

Did You Know

Did you readers know that righting moment was provided by the wing sails?


Yes, it turns out that in higher breezes up to the top third of the wing sail was “inverted” so that instead of providing force on the windward side of the sail, force came from the leeward side of the sail to provide righting moment.

Toto, we’re definitely not in Kansas any more.

Bieker explained that the reason there were few bear-away crashes was that during the maneuver a good part of the sail was pushing the boat upright. The little pull aft was outweighed by the benefit of added righting moment. This is just one of the reasons Bieker sees a lot of potential in wing sails. And he definitely sees foiling potential for Corinthian fleets – even in light wind areas like the Salish Sea.  

Personally, I thought main trim was challenging enough already.

Moving On

While the Cup has dominated much of his time, Bieker has plenty to keep him busy. I’d guess that he’ll be quite happy with non-Cup projects for a while.


We have already seen what he can do when unleashed on the performance catamaran Fujin. He’s currently working on some modifications to speed her up even more.


Perhaps the biggest project is a 53-foot cat taking shape in Rhode Island. This will also be a semi-foiling cruiser-racer, and will build on what’s been learned with Fujin.


He’s putting together a foiling Moth from scratch. While Bieker’s International 14s sit atop that class, this is his first foray into the Moth world. While we’re still not seeing many Moths in the Northwest, they’re definitely a force on the international scene. Two hundred forty competed in this year’s world championship in Lake Garda, Italy.


Then there’s the Aussie 18 class. Bieker has been asked by the class to come up with a foiling conversion. Already barely touching the water downwind without foils, they want to break completely free. Expect some exciting video to come out as those Aussie 18 sailors start to play with their revamped toys.


Then there’s a project that’s just waiting to happen. “Foiling powerboats are a no-brainer,” explains Bieker. “It’s a lot harder to make a sailboat foil with all the variables than a powerboat.”


Why make a powerboat foil when you can just add horsepower to make it faster? Fuel efficiency. “You could burn a quarter to a fifth as much fuel to get the same speed,” says Bieker. And chances are the ride would be smoother as well.


But alas, that project-in-waiting will probably have to wait for fuel prices to go up or the right client to come knocking.



A Blue Winter


The Bieker designed Blue is coming back to the Northwest for some racing. She was built by Jim Betts and spent some shakedown time here as a newborn, but lives full time on Lake Michigan where she’s a regular in the Mackinac races and the local Milwaukee scene. It’ll be good to see her again after her battles with the Santa Cruz 70s (and others) on the Lakes.








“How to get your boating stories published”

“How to get your boating stories published”

My friend Andy Cross is definitely living the dream, wandering the Northwest on his Grand Soleil 39 with his wife Jill and sons Magnus and Porter. Armed with an iPad and laptop, he manages to write and orchestrate much of the Three Sheets Northwest website plus his own blog and other projects. Speaking from experience, I can say it ain’t easy. But Andy’s ready to share his tips for getting published at the Wooden Boat Festival this coming weekend.

Andy Cross and his son Porter

He’s knowledgeable, upbeat and a straight shooter. If you’re the least bit interested in the sailing-writing thing, I’d get his seminar on your agenda. Here’s the skinny, straight from Andy’s blog:


My session is called “Living the Dream: How to get your boating stories published” and will take place on Saturday, September 9 at 9:30 a.m. on the Adventure Stage.

Durning my hour-long seminar I’ll delve into the background of how I became a maritime writer and editor and will offer tips and guidance for how aspiring writers can get their work published. Topics will include realities of the industry, what magazine editors are looking for, everyday steps in achieving the larger goal of publishing, creating polished content, turning your passion into stories, pitching your ideas and what to expect while going through the submission process. A Q&A session will follow and I’ll be happy to chat with folks after the seminar.

See a full schedule of events and presentations here. And purchase tickets and find out more show info here. Hope to see you there!

Kids Sailing a Clean Regatta

Kids Sailing a Clean Regatta
A few stickers and old trophies are new again!

Kaitlyn Van Nostrand recently assumed coaching duties at the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center on Lake Washington. She’s also a dedicated environmental pro, currently an account manager at Republic Services. She’s been working with Sailors for the Sea for following their Clean Regatta guidelines, and last weekend’s Milfoil junior regatta was deemed “Clean.” It sets a great example for other sailing and yacht clubs to follow, and by the sounds of it, it was more fun than chore. Here’s Kaitlyn’s report on the event, borrowed from an email to Sailors for the Sea. 

We had a great Milfoil Junior Regatta with both sun and wind last Saturday. There were 26 participants sail in 4 fleets (Opti, Laser, V15 and FJ) from 7 different clubs in the Seattle area. We had our sailors from Mt. Baker be on our green team wearing green t-shirts with me. They rocked the pins on their life jackets. 🙂

Our first place trophies were re-purposed ones that I found in the boathouse from the 1970’s! I removed the plaque on the front (may reuse them for other awards later), put a Sailors for the Sea Sticker on them and they came out great. Our participation awards were mugs for Optis and glasses for the other classes that I got from Goodwill. Stickered them as well, they looked awesome! Each participant received a sticker too. 

Our office staff was great in helping with our water bottle station, communicating to sailors they needed to BYO water bottle and we ran a nearly zero waste event since our lunch was pizza and we composted the plates and pizza boxes. 🙂 

Looking forward to passing on our Clean Regatta lessons to other clubs on the Northwest circuit to get more clean regattas registered for next summer.

Real Community Sailing in Renton

Real Community Sailing in Renton

Joe Burcar and I were privileged to speak at The Renton (Seattle suburb) Sailing Center’s monthly meeting a couple of nights ago. Privileged, I say, because listening to Rebekah Padgett and the dozen or so sailors attending, turned on a lightbulb for me.

Community sailing takes root at meetings like this.

Sure, big community sailing programs draw a lot of attention, including mine, but perhaps this is where sailing’s future health can be found and where more of my attention should be focused.

Think oceanic, sail local. Really local.


Joe Burcar

Joe was a board member of The Sailing Foundation, and the theme he focused on was partnering. Padget and her team are doing that, working with other programs in the area that are interested in partnering and with The Sailing Foundation. Cooperating with the city of Renton they have dock space, boats (including keelboats), an education program and above all esprit de corps.

Joe and I talked about the history of sailing here in the Pacific Northwest and how we see the future of the sport in the area. But the most interesting part of the talk for me was hearing the intention, and difficulties, of getting kids sailing. The Renton club needs more families involved, but it’s hard to entice them with all the competition for kids’ attention. I can vouch for that.

One thing is clear, the Renton Sailing Center is a great alternative for anyone looking to get out sailing. You’ll find the welcome mat out. I’m going to take their offer on heading out for a sail one of these days.

Here’s the story of the Renton Sailing Center by President Rebekah Padgett:

Founded in 1965, Renton Sailing Center (RSC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community sailing organization dedicated to the sport of sailing, with a family-like atmosphere to support the interests of sailors of all abilities.  

Located at the north end of Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton, RSC is has over 50 member families.  While most of the members live in the greater Renton area, they extend from Olympia to Everett and Port Ludlow to Fall City. 

RSC has provided small boat and keelboat instruction for many years, and over a year ago became a US Sailing Community Sailing Center.  It has been offering US Sailing Small Boat instruction ever since.  This year the Center held its first women only small boat sailing class, and it hopes to continue its focus on women. This summer RSC became a US Sailing-accredited Basic Keelboat Sailing School.  In 2017, RSC has every course full, for a total of 41 Small Boat students and 8 Basic Keelboat students.  Courses are offered through the City of Renton Community Services Department.

The Center supports an internal small boat racing/skill-building series that begins in May and goes through the summer.  It also provides sailing clinics to increase members’ skills.  Other activities include open sailing, a shoreline cleanup in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup, BBQs, a mentorship program for new members, and more.  

Occasionally members participate in outside races in Lake Washington, and one crew even completed Stage 1 of the Race 2 Alaska in 2016, from Port Townsend to Victoria.  

RSC held its second Experience Renton Sailing event in early June, where participants sign up for a free introductory sail.  This year was a record 61 participants, with 39 adult participants and 22 youth.  Most of them were first-time sailors from the Renton community.  RSC is proud of the growth of this event and that it was able to provide so many community members an opportunity to try sailing.  This epitomizes what  Renton Sailing Center is all about.

In the past, most of the vessels were donated, but RSC has been upgrading its fleet and currently has two Capri 14s, four RS Visions, a Hobie 18, Hunter 170, Ranger 20, Ranger 24, and Catalina 27.  

The entire organization is run by volunteers, including the instructors.  And all members are expected to contribute time and skills to the Center. 

Current members of the Board are President Rebekah Padgett, Vice President Kirsten Parks, Treasurer Rebecca Ward, and Secretary Katey Lent, as well as Maintenance Chief Dean Peoples and Members-at-Large Buzz Chase and Will Wagner.  

Some members have gone on to own their own boats, racing locally, living aboard, instructing at local sailing schools, or even heading out on a circumnavigation with current and past members as crew. 

RSC may be an unobtrusive little sailing center at the south end of Lake Washington, but it gives people who don’t have deep yachting roots a chance to try out the sport at an affordable rate, a supportive community, a place to build skills, and it even launches big dreams.

Learn more about RSC at and follow them on Facebook at Renton Sailing Center.

Please share this piece on social media and with anyone you know who might be interested in a very local, very real, sailing club.

Whidbey Island Race Week in Full Swing

Whidbey Island Race Week in Full Swing
Photos by Jan Anderson

Whidbey Island Race Week is in full swing, and entering Thursday with nine races in the books. Sixty-two boats are racing, and from the photos there appear to be great conditions. Borrowing from Thursday’s edition of the Race Week News, which Liza Tewell and Vicky MacFeidh are putting out:

Can you feel it? Have you experienced that transcendent, middle-of-Race-Week feeling where you remember that you’ve forgotten about the world beyond the beautiful borders of Penn Cove? That decompression isn’t the marine layer dissipating in the late morning above Puget Sound, just over the fescued berm to the west, it’s Whidbey Island Race Week. And it’s why we come back every year. Hard to explain to coworkers, hard to let go of, it’s kept nonetheless in a treasured spot deep inside. When folks ask how you make it through yet another relentlessly gray PNW winter, you smile to yourself, reach down and think, Race Week is coming. Day three of WIRW 2017 was as magical as the past 11 and a half months that our our memory had glorified it to be: blue skies, 8 to 10 knots, 72 degrees (Fahrenheit, for you Canadians). The CYC race committee shot off three races, and when we crossed that finish line for the third time on Wednesday we were happy knowing that we’d get to do it all again the next day. Thursday evening the Oak Harbor Yacht Club is serving up bbq ribs for dinner. Yum. Sorry about that for you vegetarians, though they also offer field burgers at the grill. Thursday is also the CSR party featuring the reggae music of Yogoman, so break out your aloha shirts and stretch before and after racing—the dance floor will be standing dancing room only. Crabbing for the week is also open—enter your recipe in the Haggen Northwest Fresh Crab Cake Cook-off.

While I’m not on hand to check out the competition (or bands or ridiculous amounts of fun), from the results a few things are apparent. First off, the J/105s have a huge class, and the racing must be great. With the downwind angles on the asymmetrical chutes, playing Penn Cove must get really interesting. Kathy Kushner’s Melges 24 Cool Beans out of Canada is going very well. Wicked Wahine may topple the mighty Shrek in the “big boat” class. The two Farr 30s in class 3 are having a mighty battle and there’s a fascinating duel between the Beneteau 35s5 Bodacious and the Martin 242 Crazy I’s. The tightest class of all is the small/slow boat with the two J/24s Amuse Bouche and Roshambo and the San Juan 24 Ehu Kai all within two points.  

Congratulations to Schelleen Rathkopf for successfully putting on the event once again! The event continues to evolve into much more than just racing, with a Kids Camp and other fun activities.

The Cruising Class Act

As I was writing the wrapup of Seattle YC’s Tri-Island series it occurred to me that the cruiser-racer class, which continues to grow, gets short shrift. With few exceptions, most of the major series around the Salish Sea set aside classes where anchors on the bow, kids in the forepeak and blown out sails are welcome. Sometimes, getting that last 1/10th of a knot is just not that important. 

So I asked the overall winner Phil Calvert to jot a few things down about the fleet and the series. It turns out that Phil is not only an eager racer, but an eager proponent of the cruiser-racer class as well. Take it away Phil:


The SYC Tri-Island series has had a Cruiser/Racer fleet for 16 years now and it is fun competing against old friends and new. Thirteen boats of all types and size made up the biggest class in the series. My boat Runaway is a 1973 Norlin 34 and competing against some very good sailors with lots of talent aboard those boats. This year my crew hit it hard and got lucky enough to stay with the leaders and barely correct over them. In the Blake Island race, we corrected by 1 second.  Wow, that 1 second is very surreal as many other decisions could have changed our outcome. It does show that even an old, tired, IOR boat can still get around the course, have fun, and share in racing with all the new, light fast sailboats in the Pacific Northwest in the other classes. It is just plain fun to get out on the water with good friends for some fun competition!

I’ve owned Runaway for 17 years, bought her as a repo. She was in pretty bad shape, but the boat really caught my eye. I put a bid in and paid the broker that day. He towed me to Lake Union and on the way we hit the Ballard Bridge with the mast, oops!  The boat is built like a tank, I love showing people the hull cut-out from when I repowered her.  I showed Robert Perry the cut-out once (he had a Peter Norlin custom design boat “Perrywinkle”). His response was, “you could make four boats out if that much fiberglass.”  We had a good laugh.

She was bought at Offshore Yachts in Shilshole new in 1973.  I was told a doctor owned and raced it with the same name, but I can’t find any info, lived at Shilshole for many years. The Norlin 34 was a 3/4 ton rater, but the old IOR days were about over then.

The Cruiser/Racer Class

In this photo left to right are Phil Calvert, the SYC Rear Commodore Tyler Ellison, our lucky charm junior crew Hailey, her uncle Duane, foredeck Galan, Crew Boss Jean, and sailing whisperer Ellis

We have sailboats such as Anomaly, Santa Cruz 50; Jiminy, J42 all the way down to a Catalina 25. A lot of these skippers don’t have the time, equipment, or crew to do a full PHRF class, but still want to race and come out to play. In the past I can remember sailing in the Cruiser/Racer class with just two people on the boat, I just wanted to be sailing and everyone was busy. It’s super fun to have a crew who is new to sailing and watching them become really good at what they do, we also share in all the jobs, whether driving or foredeck, we all have each other’s backs.  

The Cruiser/Racer class is casual. You can do flying sails or elect to do no-flying sails and your rating will be adjusted. Symmetrical or asymmetrical.  In the PHRF-NW handbook “cruising credits,” you can also get adjustments for anchors on the bow, furling mainsails, old sails, bad bottoms. Of course, that is up to the club rater and organizing authority, but the goal is to get you off the docks and not to have the latest in equipment.

I have been helping with the SYC club to bring their sailboats off the docks and out racing. I’m also reaching out to CYC and Sloop to grow the Cruiser/Racer class.  I would love to help in anyway I can.


And my good friends Ryan and Autumn Helling very actively race Velella. The 31-foot Velella has a remarkable history. She was designed by Tom Wylie specifically as a cruiser, and has done just that carrying Garth Wilcox and Wendy Hinman around the Pacific. And now she serves as home to Ryan and Autumn. My hats off to them for making sure Velella is still putting miles under the keel. For many liveaboards untying the dock lines seems a bit too much. Here’s Ryan: 

We only got out for the last race of the series but we’ve done the cruiser/racer class the past 3 or 4 years and had a great time. It has been steadily growing and it’s nice to see some new boats out there. Of course, it would be fun to see even more boats. The courses are a nice length for boats in our rating band. We’ve particularly enjoyed the Blake Island race as it wraps up with the party at Elliott Bay and we’ve generally stayed the night. We have a cruising boat, so why not? I think more races should be like this. The steel drum band and taco truck this year were great. Couple that with free beer and wine and it makes a pretty good time. We will definitely be back next year.

Final thoughts

It’s kind of odd, isn’t it, that we’re talking about the rise of the cruiser/racer class. After all, isn’t that what we’re all supposed to be sailing? In truth, it hasn’t been that way in a really long time. Much of the fleet have no accommodations whatsever, and many of the other cruising-capable boats are stripped of just about everything that’s not nailed down. There should be a place for both the racer willing to dedicate his boat to his racing passion and a place for the sailors who desire both sides of the sport. It turns out there are those places, and most clubs, seeing the troubling downward trend of participation numbers, are embracing the true cruiser-racer element as well. If your club isn’t paying enough attention, rattle their halyards.

A well placed tack is just as much fun with anchors on the bow as it is with them stowed in the bilge. If you’re interested in casual racing, feel free to email me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. 

Leukemia Cup Raises Funds and Spirits

Leukemia Cup Raises Funds and Spirits

Oh, darn, year after year, a beautiful day on the water! Every so often, it’s fun to throttle back a bit on the serious racing scene, and throttle up on the relaxed-but-spirited fleet having a grand time supporting a great cause. This year there was just enough breeze for most boats to give their engines a break, kick back and enjoy the sailing, and finish where you finish. After all, with this event, when the day is done, everyone wins. Enjoy the photos! – Jan Anderson

Ed. Note: Sorry we’re a little late getting these pictures (that were taken June 10) out on Sailish. It’s great to see Gary Jobson’s Leukemia Cup keep on doing its great work. Thanks should go out to Elliott Bay Marina, which once again does a great job of hosting this event. Thanks to all for making this happen.  


Top Teams

 Freedom  $8,950
 At Last  $6,750
 Golden Mean  $6,188
 Zephyr  $4,380
 LUNA Ridenour  $3,965
 Ruach  $3,937


Seattle Junior Leukemia Cup Regatta Raises Nearly $10K!

Seattle Junior Leukemia Cup Regatta Raises Nearly $10K!
Fund raising competitors in the first ever Seattle Junior Leukemia Cup Regatta.

Seattle Yacht Club hosted the first ever Seattle Junior Leukemia Cup Regatta on Sunday, May 21st. Fifteen SYC junior sailors stepped up and collectively raised nearly $10,000 to help cure blood cancers. We sailed the V15s on Portage Bay and we had great weather, with sunshine and plenty of wind and had an all around great time. Kit Stoll won the top fundraiser award, raising over $2,000 and also won top skipper. Luke Gibbons won top crew. A big shout out to our coach Cam Hoard who volunteered his Sunday to run the regatta. Thanks to all of the SYC junior sailors who participated and did such a great job fundraising. We are all excited to make this an annual event at SYC and are looking forward to raising even more money next year.  Join the fight to beat blood cancers! – Owen Timms

Ed. Note: Thanks Owen and Seattle YC for putting this together and showing that the youth of today have it figured out, doing good and building community while having a great time. And for placing sailing front and center.