Wet Wednesday Videos from the Volvo Race

Wet Wednesday Videos from the Volvo Race

It’s soooooo easy to get cool videos from the Volvo Round the World Race that it’s tempting to do it all the time. I’ll succumb this time, ’cause there are two particularly interesting ones.

First off, we have the man overboard recovery adventure onboard Scallywag en route to their taking the lead in the current leg. These things happen, but one would think the bowman should have at least a life jacket on. Even with the best sailors in the world. Thoughts?


The second video, also from the Volvo Race, shows just how far media coverage has come with drones. Thousands of miles from shore, we get these shots of Mapfre trying to get back into the hunt. Not much to be said, except wow. I expect we’ll be seeing more drone videos coming for our PNW races. Don’t forget to share them here!


Duwamish Head Race Delivers, Mist is Coming up to Speed

Duwamish Head Race Delivers, Mist is Coming up to Speed

It was an auspicious start to racing in 2018. Three Tree Point YC’s Duwamish Head Race, which has had it’s weather/finishing/shortened difficulties over the years came through with a fine day of racing last Saturday. It was a fast race, especially for the big boats, but there wasn’t a lot of a maneuvering and a limited number of tactical decisions to be made.

A strong current was pushing boats over the line, but soon the fleet was flying along the West Seattle waterfront beaches. The boats gave the Saturday morning walkers at Alki a bit of show as they headed to, and then from, the Duwamish Head Light. A medium air reach across Puget Sound was straightforward.

After rounding Blakely Rock, the larger boats that managed to stay west enjoyed a more westerly angle and came into the finish without tacking. Any of those that footed off found they needed to tack up around Three Tree Point Point. Many of the later, smaller boats had more of a beat.

The fast race combined with the time on distance scoring skewed some of the results, with the advantage going to the slower-rated boats. Keep reading to get a report from Image in the middle of the fleet. Results here.

Here are some of Jan Anderson’s photos. See more and buy them here.


The newest (and oldest) of the Northwest’s three-boat TP 52 “fleet” is Steve Johnson’s Mist (formerly Braveheart and Valkyrie). Johnson put many miles under his old White Cloud‘s keel, and wanted a new challenge. A TP 52 is certainly that.

The Duwamish Head race was part of that learning curve. Mist was over early at the start (“I’m not used to a boat jumping up to 12 knots that fast,” Johnson explained) and then had to chase Crossfire around the course the rest of the way. And the way the time on distance handicaps worked out both boats found themselves down in the standings.

At this point in the Mist program, that hardly matters. “Sooner or later we’ll learn how to sail it to its rating,” Johnson says. Right now he’s still adjusting to the TP52 speeds. One of the adjustments is the challenge for driving the beast – it demands laser-focus. As Johnson puts it, “there’s not a lot of forgiveness.” Another adjustment Johnson has to make is the flat out speed. “It changes your perception of how big Puget Sound is.” Indeed.

The team, basically the same White Cloud crew with some additions, is learning jib trim with the in-hauler set as close as 5° off center line, which is about 2 degrees less than White Cloud. The current crop of TPs on the Mediterranean are set at about 4.5 degrees.

One of the more interesting aspects of a TP52 program is access to sails. Johnson hopes to set up “a relationship” with a Med TP program to have access to their “old” sails that might have as little as a few short hours of use. Mist‘s inventory was already pretty good thanks to one of those relationships with Sled.

Mist is in relatively good condition, but there have been some annoying breakdowns including a broken outhaul in Round the County. Built as a late first-generation/early second-generation TP52 as Braveheart, the stout boat was built for ocean racing with ring frames and a sturdy rig. But as with any boat, there’s maintenance and modifications to be made. One of the first things on Johnson’s list is to set the galley up with a foot pump to fill water bottles from the water tank, as opposed to lugging aboard (and disposing of) water bottled in plastic. Environmentalism is in, folks.

Currently the long range plan is to do the usual Northwest races with an eye toward the Van Isle 360 in a year and a half.



Alert reader Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski chimed in with his own Duwamish Head Story, specifically PHRF-7. Sounds like the class had a close race and there was a happy crew aboard Image. Here’s Marc:

PHRF-7 had a fantastic race last weekend. Having 6 boats with similar ratings out gave the Image crew a really nice benchmark and allowed us get a good read on our boat speed.

After a port tack approach to the start line we held a position to windward of the fleet, reaching a little longer with the #3 jib up. We were the last boat to set our spinnaker which allowed the J/29s to pull away but we managed to stay close to Les Chevaux Blacs and Folie a Deux. Once we were certain we could lay Alki beach the kite came up and we had a nice reach down. About a third of the way to Alki, Absolutely and a bit later String Theory passed us to windward and we got a good look at Crossfire flying towards Alki. With the wind moving slightly more behind us, we moved the our A-kite from being bow tacked to the spinnaker pole and squared it back a little which required us to set up the reaching strut – that’s the fun of being the old school boat in the fleet. At Alki Pt, we were a tad late to jibe towards the Duwamish head mark (partially due to our pole magic) which cost us some precious boat lengths and moved us back to last place in the fleet.

After ducking the yellow trimaran Ruf Duck the broad reach towards the Duwamish head mark went without a hitch. We were a little late getting the #1 on deck and set up so we had to round the mark bald headed which got us stuck in dirty air. As soon as we noticed we would not be able to lay Blakely Rock, we did two tacks putting us to windward of the rear end of the fleet which really helped with boat speed. We reached Blakely Rock together with Folie a Deux, tacked to starboard right with them and a 20 minute drag race ensued. We managed to sail slightly higher and slightly faster than them, eventually passing them and forcing them to foot toward the middle of the course to find clear air. Shortly after this, we had a prime spot for watching the orca pod (ed. note – how cool is that?!) that was moving north.

We needed to put in two additional tacks before the finish line, probably due to the wind dying down temporarily but spirits were high, especially when we sighted Les Chevaux Blancs and Folie a Deux behind us.

All in all, the entire crew of Image enjoyed the race a whole lot. After spending more than two years building crew and skills as well as slowly converting the boat from a full on cruising boat (featuring her original 1982 sails) it seemed like to work was paying off and we got some good boat on boat action.

It’s absolutely great that readers chime in from all parts of the fleet, in particular from older boats that are enjoying the racing every bit as much as the boats with 5-degree sheeting angles! Keep sending your stories, videos and photos and I’ll keep posting them.  

Bruce’s Brief for January 6-7 and Duwamish Head Race

Bruce’s Brief for January 6-7 and Duwamish Head Race

And the word of the week is bombogenesis!, which is what happened to the East Coast this week resulting in hurricane force winds, lots of snow, all to be followed by record-setting cold temperatures. So what is bombogenesis? Very simply, this is a rapidly intensifying low-pressure system where the pressure drops at least 24mb over 24 hours. This system easily met the definition by dropping 59mb in 24 hours! I guess even though our weather is a little wet, we’ll take it compared to what they will have endured on the East Coast.

So how wet was it this last year? The record for rainfall in a year, as recorded at SeaTac since 1945, was 55.14 inches in 1950. In 1996 we had 50.67 inches and this year we had a measly 47.87 inches compared to a yearly average of 37.49 inches. What is interesting is that this last summer we also set a new record of 55 consecutive days without rain. This makes four consecutive years of over 44 inches of rain per year which I think we would prefer to the situation Cape Town finds itself in as it approaches “Day Zero” sometime this May. “Day Zero” is the day the taps go dry in Cape Town, the city simply runs out of water. Climate change? And Trump wants to cut funding to the National Weather Service? Kurt is kicking me to get back to my assignment for the day. (Ed. note, NO, he’s not. However, I see Trump’s reasoning: “If I fund the National Weather Service, all they’re going to do is come up with research and facts. I hate those things!”)

As we used to say at North U, one of the reasons why we enjoy sailboat racing is that no two races are ever the same. Except as I look back on last year, this is pretty damn close. Basically, there will be wind for the start and the run up to Duwamish, however, the wind will drop as you go north and then the Sound will glass off sometime around mid-afternoon. Last year Crossfire made it through the light air at Blakely Rock and Blake Island and got back into some wind and slammed the door on the fleet. The same thing could happen this year as there will be wind off the water and Crossfire has the rig to grab what there is up there.

As you can see from today’s surface analysis and from the GOES West Water Vapor picture, we have a dissipating low-pressure system moving through the area today. Pressure is already starting to rise and the wind is starting to clock around to the SW, a classic post-frontal pattern. Then you look at the Surface Forecast Chart for tomorrow and you see the problem, a huge gap in the gradient over the Pacific Northwest. Not all the models agree on this with some showing a nice south-southwesterly (8-10 knots) over the race course for the entire day. I’m not that optimistic. I think it is more likely that by the north end of Vashon things will start to get squirrely with big shifts and puffs from the SW. It will be important to sail the rhumb line from Three Tree to Alki and not sail too many extra miles chasing puffs. By Alki, have the drifter ready and don’t get too close to the beach. Remember also that with max ebb at 1300 hours and the fact that there will be lots of water coming out of the Duwamish, there could be a strong set to the west at the Duwamish mark. With the combination of very light air and anti-water at the mark, rounding could be challenging. The first boat around will have a huge advantage until they run out of wind again at Blakely Rock. From there to the finish will be a shifty bit of drag racing from hole to hole. The other bad news is that there will be no flood tide until early Sunday morning at 0512 hrs. Yes, the ebb will run from 0842 Saturday until 0512 Sunday.

Remember, the big Seattle Boat Show starts Friday, Jan 26th at CenturyLink Field. I’ll be working at the Information Booth both Friday and Saturday evening the first weekend, Sunday the 28th from 1000-1400, Monday the 29th from 1500-2000hrs, Tuesday the 30th from 1000-1500hrs, and Friday, Feb 2nd from 1600-2100hrs, so if you’re at the show please stop by and say hello.


Wet Wednesday Videos from Down Under

Wet Wednesday Videos from Down Under

While we were all digesting our figgy pudding, the boys Down Under were, as usual, spending their Boxing Day racing from Sydney to Hobart. There are plenty of accounts and footage of the race. The biggest “moment” in the race came after the start. The video below should open at that moment (but you can start the video at an earlier spot if you want to watch the whole start). Here Wild Oats (aka WOXI) is on port and Comanche is on starboard. The ensuing protest saw WOXI penalized an hour and her line honors passed to Comanche.

Fewer of you may have seen the following footage taken onboard Comanche on day 2. It shows boatspeed (yawn-30 knots) and course. Be sure to go full screen with this video and use your cursor to pan around. It’s not quite reality but it’s the closest thing a lot of us are going to get to 30 knots on Comanche.

NOTE: Bruce Hedrick will put on his swami hat and gaze into his crystal weather ball on Friday with a post for the Duwamish Head race! I’m really hoping one or more of you alert readers comes up with a Wet Wednesday video from an exciting Duwamish race. (Hopefully it’s wet from below and not above) If you’ve got something, just email me.

The Elephant in the Bathtub

The Elephant in the Bathtub
Playing the shore. Photo by Jan Anderson

OK, we’ve looked at action items to stave off the decline in PNW handicap racing. Now it’s time to look at the elephant in the bathtub, handicapping itself. Though a small part of the October 19 survey, handicapping itself probably generated the most direct, and certainly most vehement, comments.

I’m not going to argue whether or not PHRF offers accurate handicapping. That’s a black hole. Instead, I’m going to talk about how PHRF is perceived, what I feel its role should be and how ORC Club might fit into the picture.

For many in the PNW, PHRF = Handicapping. That’s the only system many, if not most, have sailed under. Assessing performance, rather than measuring boats, is appealing. It’s been the dominant handicapping system around here since the 1980s. When something else pops into the picture, e.g. IMS or IRC, problems are found, there’s no critical mass and they fade away amid the mantra of “PHRF may not be perfect but it’s the best thing going.” And then people hear horror stories about the IOR days when boats would be out-designed yearly, and resign themselves to PHRF.

Gaucho into the mark

Yet, according to the survey, more than half of the respondents feel that handicapping affects their participation at least a little. Twenty nine percent feel it’s a significant factor. The comments reveal some serious frustration, to put it mildly. So, a large percentage of PNW racers aren’t happy with PHRF. Some are downright ornery about it. And many others have just left the sport because of it.

At the national and international levels, US Sailing and World Sailing have abdicated their rightful roles on settling on one system. ORR in this country has not caught on and is expensive, and IRC and ORC are administered in England. So the solutions aren’t obvious and the unknown makes sailors twitchy.

And the idea that you can’t appeal your rating is scary to some. That’s interesting. To me the idea that my rating can be changed in some committee meeting is scary.

So we have PHRF. Its strengths are that it’s administered locally, and you can get your or your competitors’ rating changed if you lobby well enough. Those are also its greatest problems. There are dozens of local handicappers and arcane procedures to determine ratings. Consistency is a big problem, especially between PHRF-NW and PHRF-BC.

No matter what those ratings turn out to be, flexible numbers are going to be perceived by many as wrong, by either ignorance or politics. And the idea of being able to appeal your competitor’s ratings is just insane. No sailor I respect wants to appeal a competitor’s rating, no matter how wrong it is. The beer you’re sharing with another skipper just doesn’t taste as good when you’re wondering how he got that gift rating, or wondering if they’re going to drag you in front of some appeal committee in the future.

There is an apparent solution at hand. It’s the ORC measurement system which is being used successfully by the big boats in Puget Sound and in British Columbia, and in large numbers around the world. It’s cheaper than PHRF, professionally administered with the force of thousands of serious racers worldwide to keep it on track. ORC and IRC are now working together which bodes well for the future. Different wind conditions can be accommodated to help keep boats competitive in all conditions. For the first time in a long time, BC and WA big boat racers don’t have big crises over ratings when they want to race each other.

So here’s my solution. All the serious racers (of all sizes) shift to ORC. That’s where the racers who buy new sails often, train their crews and scrub their boat bottoms before each race, should race. If they want to optimize their rating, they can play with sail area or other factors, and it’s cut and dry. The yacht clubs and race organizers would have to adapt, but if they want racers, they would.

The folk who are new to racing, casual about it or have an oddball boat that doesn’t get a fair shake in ORC, can play the PHRF game. Without the pressure of the serious crowd, PHRF can streamline its processes and perhaps rethink how it’s administered. This is where the flexibility of PHRF could be really useful. A wide range of adjustments (many are already in pace) could be identified for cruising gear, old sails, novice skippers etc. Sure, there’s all sorts of room for controversy here, but remember the crowd is mainly out there to have fun and won’t get their foulies in a bundle if they don’t win. The foulies in a bundle crowd will be off sailing ORC.

What about those racers in between casual and serious? They would have to choose. Those who want to keep their boat in “casual” trim could opt for PHRF. Experienced sailors with old sails – well, they could race against the serious guys or go PHRF and just deal with the perceived inequities – their choice.

Let’s say you have a J/35, a boat that’s seen success under many handicapping systems. You still have the competitive spirit, but your sails are a bit tired and your crew isn’t trained up, and it’s tough to find enough rail meat to be truly competitive. It would still be fun to mix it up with the PHRF crowd, especially if you got some extra seconds per mile for your 1993 sails.

Let’s say you have so much fun doing that that you invest in some new sails and put a program together. You get an ORC rating, put your game face on, and play with that crowd.

The beautiful Swan 391 Oxomoxo. Photo by Michelle Neville.

Or use your old sails and novice crew for the casual races and your new sails and trained crew for the serious races. Right now the big boats have both ratings, one where there’s enough ORC boats for a class, one for when there’s not.

What about the sailor who hunts trophies in the PHRF fleet with new sails and a pro tactician? Who cares, let them embarrass themselves.

What about the boats that seem unduly penalized by ORC? I doubt there are many and they’ll get to choose.

It’s self-selection and it can work. As one of the survey respondents said, “Choose your poison.”

To start with, I’d suggest you get in touch with the folk you like to race against. Coordinate so you end up in the same fleet. Making those connections and decisions off the racecourse can only strengthen fleet morale and participation.

IMHO this would be better for all involved. PHRF could focus on the larger pools of new and casual racers while the more intense (but smaller) serious racing crowd could all focus on the racing instead of handicapping. Both systems could thrive. There would be some growing pains, and it may not work out. But it’s better than watching the sport fade.

Think about it. Weigh in on it here – I’ll be happy to post differing (but respectful) views. Or just go get your ORC rating and talk to your club.

And happy holidays to all.


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 sailish.com 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. Sailish.com 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 sailish.com 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.)





Zephyrs and Raindrops for Winter Vashon

Zephyrs and Raindrops for Winter Vashon

The Winter Vashon Race is one of those events that can be best or worst of everything. And it seems every year that I miss it, it’s one of those idyllic days. Nigel Barron of CSR and Crossfire reports this might have been an OK year to miss, even if you’re sailing on the biggest, baddest boat out there.

Smarter people than I have said many things about South Sound Sailing: “There’s no racing South of Alki.” “Don’t do a race with Winter OR Vashon in the title.”  Yet there we all were at 630am on Saturday leaving Shilshole to motor down to Tacoma. Truth be told, it wasn’t a bad start to the day because it didn’t start raining until about 830, but once it started, it never really stopped…  Light and fickle winds greeted the fleet. Did I mention it rained? It was really just a matter of trying to connect the small fingers of wind, that as predicted came from the east. On Crossfire, we did a pretty good job keeping the boat moving, jumping between the light jibs, and the A1 as the small puffs came through. Mercifully, as we approached the North end of the island, the RC announced they were shortening the course. True to form, a mile or so from the finish, we could see the boats behind us keeping kites full so it was pretty obvious the fill was coming from behind. After we crossed the finish, we put the kite back up and had the best sailing of the day from the finish back to West Point.

As one would expect the results showed final results in some classes as pretty much the inverse of ratings, as the fleet compressed and handicaps were applied. The overall winner of the day was McSwoosh, a fine reward for being out there regularly on the South Sound Races! Other class winners included Kahuna, Grace E. Blueflash, Sidewinder, Chinoook, Nimbus, Emma Lee, Second Wind and the Cal 20 Willie Tipit (now there’s a name).

The intrepid team of Jan and Skip Anderson were out there photographing, and Jan had her own take on the day:

Holy Schamoley, what a perfect day on the water, and a typical barn-burner of a Winter Vashon! GREAT breeze (often a bit too much to handle, actually), warm temps, record speeds, fantastic chute sets, tacking duels to write home about, playing the shifts perfectly, BIG old sun in the sky, and you could practically hear Mount Rainier shouting “Go! Go!” from astern … oh, wait, that wasn’t this weekend, was it? Dang. Don’t even try to print these photos off at home – it’ll soak your printer. Blah.

I guess didn’t miss much – this year. Here are Jan’s photos, and if you want to remember the day, visit her web site!


Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

As usual, there will be a great turnout for the start of the South Sound Series. Where else do we get a chance to race in rain, snow, and sometimes a pretty good breeze. Unfortunately, this year it’s looking like some breeze for the start then dropping off as we transition from a very rainy November to a dryish and coolish start of December. November is traditionally our wettest month and this year will be no exception as we are two inches ahead of our average rainfall for the month. The good news is that we’ve only had 42 inches of rain so far this year and the record is 55 inches set in 1950. The normal amount of rain for the year by the end of November is 32 inches.

As you can see from the charts we’ve got quite a mishmash of weather systems lurking off the coast and by Monday we’ll have the start of a fairly big high-pressure system starting to build over the area with a whopping low-pressure slamming the Aleutians, again.

While it is Thursday, the models are still divergent with the general consensus shifting towards some wind on Saturday morning from the south then gradually becoming lighter before it shifts to the north by around midnight. For racers, this will mean drag racing from puff to puff as you ride the tide up Colvos. While you may have 8-10 knots of southerly for the start, this will drop to five knots or less as the day goes on with plenty of dead spots in Colvos. The masthead Windex will give you some warning about where the next puff will be coming from. The boats with the tall rigs will make out as long as the trimmers are working hard. After you get around the top mark you’ll probably have a due southerly until it goes really light around mid-afternoon. As you beat towards Pt. Robinson, don’t get too close to Vashon and don’t stray too far to the east of the rhumb line. While on starboard if the puffs start to become lifts that will tell you to stay to the west just not too close to the Island.

The great thing about TYC is that if it gets too sticky in Colvos, they usually have the good sense to end the race at the top mark so make sure someone has the bino’s out and you’re checking the flags on the mark boat.

While the parties, both pre and post race, at TYC are legendary, remember that the first day the high-pressure ridge builds over the Northwest will result in the most wind from the North and if you’re delivering the boat back to Seattle on Sunday you could have 15-20 cold knots of wind right on the nose. If they finish you at the top mark and Seattle is your home port, head straight for the barn after you finish and juggle the cars later.

Good luck and have a great race.



Youth Movement at Turkey Bowl

Youth Movement at Turkey Bowl
Laser Radials lining up for a start on Saturday. Matt Wood photo.

Corinthian YC’s Turkey Bowl doesn’t always attract the biggest fleets (something about sailing in November), but last weekend, thanks to the efforts of kids, coaches and parents, it was a remarkably well attended regatta. Nearly 60 boats were entered including 505s, Vanguard 15s, RS Aeros, Lasers, Laser Radials and Optimists.

Mats Elf won the closely contested 505 class, while Dieter Creitz won the Optis with straight bullets and Nate Walgren won the 4-boat Vanguard 15 fleet.

Lasers setting up for a start Sunday.

The singlehanded fleets each had a strong showing with 14 Aeros, 9 Laser standard rigs and 13 Laser Radials. Dan Falk, winner in the Aero class, “couldn’t remember having that much fun” as the last heavy air duel against Carl Buchan. They finished a foot apart, with the nod going to Buchan. Oregon’s Doug Seeman made his trip worthwhile, winning the Laser standard rig on the strength of a dominating performance on the light air first day. In the Radial class, it was Owen Timm taking the win over Abbie Carlson and Kit Stohl. The Radial class is really coming into its own and is a great place for younger and smaller sailors to compete at a high level

Results here. 

One of the groups of young sailors came from the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center, a City of Seattle racing program based on Lake Washington and now headed up by Kaitlyn Van Nostrand. It would be great to have a city-based program turning up at regattas! Here’s Kaitlyn’s report from the weekend:

Mt. Baker Youth Sailing Team culminated its first fall practice series by attending CYC’s annual Turkey Bowl with 4 lasers and 2 Opti’s. Three of our novice sailors had never raced on the Sound before and for one of our Opti sailors, it was her breakout regatta! They were tough kids, considering most juniors start and stop when the weather is warm and dry.  

With some nervous laughs, the junior sailors joined the 505’s, RS Aero’s, Lasers, Radials and Optis for 6 great races on Saturday. Our team learned about the current, being scared then excited about the waves, swell and lots of ah ha moments when we talked about how the current would affect the mark rounds, and connecting the theory to practice when the current did just that. For two of our Radial sailors, their goal was to finish the races. Finish they did and by the end of the day, the race committee was cheering them on as they crossed the line!  For the other two second year Laser sailors, it was to see their great improvement that all the sailing they did this fall paid off. As they were able to finish closer to the fleet of great year around juniors sailors from SYC’s race team! Our Opti sailors learned how to stay out of the way of 505’s screaming past and got a few helloss from our laser master’s friends! After over 5 hours on the water and some warm chili, our sailors were falling asleep at the Clubhouse. Needless to say, they had a good night sleep! 

The forecast was wild for Sunday, but we did manage to get two great races off in the funny west/south west direction. Then the real fun began, the swells started getting larger before the big gusts came just as the second laser race was finishing. Race committee abandoned racing for the junior classes and the parade of laser radials and opti’s made their way back to the docks. It was a wild ride in huge gusts and big swell for our lake sailors! They were pleased enough to be done early after the long day Saturday. We washed our boats, packed up and headed back to Mt. Baker. Lots of smiles, lots of excellent experience gained and excited to start up again in the Spring.

If any Junior Sailors are interested in joining our youth sailing team at Mt. Baker, we will be starting Laser and Opti practice again on the weekends in April 2018. Sailors must know how to sail, but do not need racing experience. All our boats are owned by Mt. Baker Rowing & Sailing Center and we have scholarships available. We practice April to November! Email Coach Kaitlyn at mtbakersailingteam@gmail.com to find out more. 

Thanks, Kaitlyn, and I’ll second her call for more sailors. Whether it’s Mount Baker, Sail Sandpoint, CYC, SYC, high schoolers or any of the other great junior programs around, competitive sailing is definitely on the upswing in the Northwest. There are plenty of great coaches, parents and other sailors to help and keep things safe.

Have a great Thanksgiving all!

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.


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.