Sensory Deprivation on the Cockpit Floor in the Six Meter Worlds

Sensory Deprivation on the Cockpit Floor in the Six Meter Worlds

There’s no doubt that the 6-Meter Worlds in Vancouver September 15-21 was an extraordinary, red-carpet affair and not really weekend sailor fare. Boats and luminaries were shipped from Europe, boats resuscitated and re-wardrobed, pros were lined up for most of the boats. It’s not often there’s real-life royalty on the start line.

But what’s it like to sail a 6-Meter? I gave a shout to Alex Simanis of Ballard Sails who was main trimmer aboard Bob Cadranell’s Arunga.

“In my spot it was like sailing with sensory deprivation,” he explains. “I didn’t see any of the beats. I was sitting on the floor of the open cockpit tending the mainsheet, runners, traveller and the trim tab. As soon as we’re doing 5 knots you used the trim tab, just a little to make the keel a bit assymetrial going upwind. As the main trimmer you get kicked in the face a few times because you share the space the owner.”

Click on these Nancii Bernard photos to enlarge. I’d highly recommend going to her web site to see the rest of her photos – they provide a great feel for the sailing part of the regatta.

Some of the other things Simanis explained were that there was a real issue with the boats trying to sink themselves when they got going downwind. It was more than the meter-type hull settling deep into displacement mode, it was more like self-destruction. The wing keels on some boats are actually aimed to drive the boat into the water. “We took on a lot of the water – it came over the floorboards. We were pumping with the biggest Whale pump they make!”

And Simanis added that these boats can be handful when it blows. “It’s physical,” he says. The boats usually sail with five. “Twenty knots is about the limit for these boats,” he adds, “After that it just gets stupid.”

Arunga was in the modern class, but the “classic” class was equally competitive. The royalty (HM the King of Spain) won the classic classic race, and the Swiss boat Junior defended her title, but not without controversy. Chris Winnard, who happened to be sailing on Arunga, laid out some of the controversies in this Sailing Anarchy post.

Simanis agreed that things smelled, at the very least, fishy when the hot local Canadian New Sweden was given some questionable redress. “18 boats filed protests, and eventually they just rolled it into one protest with 18 witnesses,” Simanis explained. He added that the program Ben Mumford and Don Marten had put together didn’t really need any help – the boat was well sorted and fast. In the end the redress was not given.

Of course, high falutin or not, it’s still a sailboat race and everyone tries to come away learning a thing or two. The Arunga team, for instance, learned a fair bit about mast rake. They learned they needed a lot more than they’d been using, though in the end had to moderate the change just a bit. The whole “bow down” thing to maximize speed isn’t necessarily the thing to do, as the fast boats were all sheeting in hard and pointing on the beats.

While the real competition is in Europe, this region has a proud history, and present, with 6-Meters. There are several boats in Port Madison, and they often turn up for Seattle buoy races. Then there are the Vancouver boats. With all these boats tuned up after the Worlds, there may be a renewed interest in the class around here.

It would be a great game to play, because while they’re sailed boat for boat, every one is different and needs it’s own customization. Optimizing the boat is certainly a big part of the game. And underway, who wouldn’t like to on that good looking a boat going to weather?

Few if any boats are more beautiful than the narrow, low slung meter boats. I grew up watching some of the ex-America’s Cup 12-Meters like Heritage charging upwind unmolested through those nasty boat-stopping lake waves. It was as sight to behold. And if you spend some time looking at the photos and squint a bit, you can see a bit of the “old” Cup racing.

“I’m a sailor who believes in planing boats, but it’s cool to be sailing part of history,” Simanis says. Even if it means you miss seeing where you are on the race course during the beat.


PSSR in the Books, Next Up Tri Island

PSSR in the Books, Next Up Tri Island

The racing season continues this weekend with the first race of Seattle Yacht Club’s Tri-Island Series, the Protection Island race. Look for Bruce Hedrick’s weather report and race brief later today.

Last weekend 50 boats raced CYCs PSSR and Jan Anderson was on hand to catch the action with her lens. We didn’t get a lot of reports from the courses, but it’s noteworthy that there were four of the eight classes and well over half the fleet were one-design.

The largest among those classes was the resilient J/105 class, with eight boats. The 105s seem to turn out a class for nearly every event, and we’re going to take a closer look at why this fleet has maintained solid participation over the years. One key may be that a lot of them have ended up sharing P-dock at Shilshole, so post race connection is a natural extension of the competition.

While Erik Kristen’s More Jubilee won the event handily, the biggest moment in the regatta came as Tango and Inconceivable were tied going into race seven and were basically just racing each other. Going downwind on the 2nd leg they were neck and neck for the lead. They all gybed to starboard except for Inconceivable which continued out towards the middle of the Sound. It looked like they had taken a flyer and Tango would win the race – until Inconceivable showed up at the leeward mark ahead of everyone. Inconceivable went on to finish ahead of Tango in the last race, even putting a boat between them, to sew up second.

In other classes on the north course, Shrek won a tight class, the Sierra 26s ran away with Class 2 and Tom Greetham’s Distraction won the Melges 24s. On the south course the Here & Now and Zipper won their respective PHRF classes while Taj Mahal and Return won the J/80 and San Juan 24 fleets.

If you have some regatta stories or thoughts, please call me or email me and I’ll try to work them into the race reports. Thanks. In the meantime, here are some of Jan Anderson’s photos. Don’t forget to visit her site get some shots to adorn your wall (or your crews’).

So, the America’s Cup guys just discovered that legs are stronger than arms? Well, there isn’t really anything new about it. The first time I heard it being done was on the 12-Meter Sverige in 1977. I’m liking that the idea keeps bubbling up. Of course the other AC teams are all saying “Oh, we thought about it and discarded it because of the mobility factor in maneuvers. We’ll see.

What I still don’t like is the fact that all that grinding, whether it be by biceps or quads, is only there to power up the hydraulics. Yeah, it’s all part of sailing, and the AC is all about doing what it takes to win. However, between the wings and foils and static cycling, there’s less and less “sailing” to the casual observer. The relation of what the grinders are actually doing to make the boat go is ever more remote. The wing comes in 1.5 degrees, the angle of attack of the foils is adjusted the tiniest bit and the boat accelerates from 22 to 24 knots. Maybe I’m a Luddite, but I just can’t get too excited about it.


Bruce’s Weather Brief, Chilly with a Good Chance of Open Anchorages

Bruce’s Weather Brief, Chilly with a Good Chance of Open Anchorages

It may be cold but at least there’s very little white stuff forecast for the Salish Sea. The mountains will get more and California will even get some much needed moisture in the form of both rain and snow.

As you can see from the current surface chart our weather is currently being dominated by two significant high pressure systems. The first is a 1034 MB high situated over southern BC and the second is a very summer-like 1036 MB high located in the Pacific off of the mouth of the Columbia River. Our current cold weather comes from the former with very cold air coming down out of the Fraser River valley. As is typical of this time of the year, yet another huge low pressure system will come out of the Bering Sea and push these aside. See the 18 Dec Surface chart. Yep, that’s a 940 MB low with a frontal system that extends from the Aleutians to SE Alaska and then back to almost the Philippines. That is a major system and it will be visiting us about the 20th of December.

What does this mean for weekend boating? It will be cold however the breeze will drop off after today and in the central to south Sound conditions will be 5-15 from the south, a little stronger in the northern Salish Sea. If you’re a total curmudgeon and don’t have anything to do around the house in advance of the big holiday, you’ll find most of the anchorages pretty empty. So go out and enjoy yourself just be aware that hypothermia can be a real threat this weekend and if you fall into the water and can’t get out, you are pretty much dead. So please be careful.

Have a great weekend.

US Youth Champ, Olympic Contender, Young Northwest Women Sailors Rock!

Last weekend, unknown to many local sailors, a major championship was occurring at Sail Sand Point in Seattle. The US Sailing Junior Women’s Championship (Leiter Cup) was sailed in picture perfect conditions over four days. Twenty-eight young women from all over the country turned up, but it was area sailor Talia Toland that ended up on top.

Toland earned the victory, having sailed several years in Lasers on the growing and very competitive Northwest Youth Circuit. A quick look at her results over the last few years show a steady progression through the ranks. And while second place went to Kiera O’Reardon of Houston Yacht Club, third went to up-and-coming local Abbie Carlson from the Seattle Yacht Club.

The biggest winners were the Pacific Northwest racing community and Sail Sand Point. “US Sailing was skeptical that we could pull this off,” explained SSP Executive Director Mary Anne Ward. “They wanted four separate rooms for videos and a full kitchen and a few other things that we just don’t have.” But in the end, it went off without a hitch, thanks in large part to virtually perfect winds, northerlies first, followed by southerlies and then ending on northerlies. Ten races were completed.

“US Sailing is already talking to us about hosting more events,” Ward said.

The US sailing recap of the event can be read at the end of this post. More of Jan Anderson’s photos can be found here, and results can be found here.

Our Olympian Helena


Of course many of the young women sailing last weekend dream of going to the Olympics. Well, one of “ours” is there right now. Helena Scutt is crew on the 29erfx, a very high performance skiff class for women.

Helena Scutt
Helena Scutt

She and skipper Paris Henken are in Rio right now. I hope to have some tidbits from Helena to share with you, and will convey them as soon as I can. In the meantime, here is a video interview of Scutt and Henken when they secured the Olympic spot.



Talia Toland Wins U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehandeds

Published on July 31st, 2016

A fleet of 28 Laser Radials competed at the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship, held July 29-31 on Lake Washington in Seattle, WA. In the end, it was Washington native, Talia Toland (Kirkland, Wash.), who ran away with the title in her home state.

Toland enjoyed a three point lead over Kiera O’Reardon (Houston, Texas) through eight races entering Sunday’s final two races. With the Nancy Leiter Clagett Memorial Trophy on the line and two 50-minute races to go, Toland won her third race of the Championship in Race 9 and gained two more points on O’Reardon, who placed third.

In the 10th and final race, Toland ensured O’Reardon did not catch her in the standings by finishing three places ahead of her (14th to 17th) to win the Leiter Trophy.

“This is my third year sailing at the Leiter Trophy and it’s great to finally put it all together in my home venue,” said Toland. “It was kind of cool that we had different wind direction every day of the regatta. I stayed in the pressure and stayed pointing towards the mark and kept a cool head in the shifty conditions, which helped a lot when you patience. I had a chance to work with all the coaches, which is really great. It’s cool to see how I’ve developed from year to year at this event.”

Toland placed third at this Championship last year and sixth in 2014.

The top six boats qualified for early acceptance to the 2017 U.S. Youth Sailing Championships – a qualifier for the 2017 ISAF Youth World Championships in Israel.

Final Standings (Top 6 of 28; 10 races, 1 discard)
1. Talia Toland, Seattle Yacht Club/Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, 1-5-5-4-2-2-1-4-1-[14]- ; 25
2. Kiera O’Reardon, Houston Yacht Club, 3-2-4-1-9-6-3-3-3-[17]- ; 34
3. Abbie Carlson, Seattle Yacht Club, 9-1-2-2-1-[14]-8-9-11-5- ; 48
4. Lillian Myers, Sarasota Youth Sailing, 16-3-17-[23]-3-1-2-6-8-1- ; 57
5. Julia Sheaffer, Lakewood Yacht Club, 14-6-[21]-7-11-3-5-2-13-4- ; 65
6. Maggie Toombs, Orcas Island Yacht Club/ Sail Orcas, 5-7-6-14-6-4-4-14-9-[19]- ; 69

This Championship was preceded by two days of clinics featuring a collection the country’s top coaches. The clinics were led by Richard Feeny, US Sailing Junior National Coach.

Valkyrie First In



Photo courtesy of Nathan O’Hanlon.

Update: Valkyrie‘s time, and the new record, was 8 days, 9 hours and 17 seconds. Wow. Kinetic finished 5 hours later and Westerly has finished as well.

They’ve done it! The TP 52 Valkyrie was first to finish, and no matter how the handicaps shake out, that is theirs to keep. Of course this breaks the record by a lot. It looks like they had to do a couple of gybes to get around Hawea Point. We’ll assess just how smashed the record is as Kinetic, and then Westerly, come in. Longboard is having to work their way west now, which is adding some difference, but she’ll be tied up next to the TPs and SC fairly soon as well. Kudos to Jason Rhodes, Gavin Brackett and the whole team. Mai tais all around.

Crossfire Calls it Quits in Vic-Maui Race

Crossfire during the Blakely Rock Benefit Race earlier this year. Jan Anderson photo.
Crossfire during the Blakely Rock Benefit Race earlier this year. Jan Anderson photo.

In a bit of stunner, Crossfire has apparently dropped out of the Vic-Maui Race. I received an email from navigator Bruce Hedrick saying that the wind instruments and Windex were lost due to violent masthead motion. The announcement was also made on This came after some hard reaching and blowing out the A4 spinnaker at 28 knots.

We’ll have all the detail and a report on the race to you asap.

Bruce’s Weather Brief for SYC Blake Island Race

Bruce’s Weather Brief for SYC Blake Island Race

This could be the weekend that if there ever was a weekend to be out on the water and to be sailboat racing, this is the one. The setup is just about perfect as you can see from the surface forecast charts with a 1027mb high pressure system setting up inland of SE Alaska thus directing an offshore flow over the Pacific Northwest which will result in higher than normal temperatures and maybe, just maybe, some great breeze over the Sound. Put your sunblock on before you leave the house!

For the Blake Island Race this could be one for the books with breeze at the start and lasting the rest of the day. With this kind of wind the tides will have minimum effect. It will pay to remember that the current is constantly ebbing out of Colvos and as you approach Blake Island you will notice that the ebb will last longer and be further north even as the flood is supposed to start just after 1110 hours. The flood at West Point may start even earlier because of wind generated surface current. The good news is that with the abundant sunshine and the flood you’ll be able to easily see the wind hitting the ebb tide and creating that ruffled appearance on the water.

Tidal Current at West Point

0725      Max Ebb                 1.27 knts

1110      Slack

1417      Max Flood            1.32 knts

1814      Slack

Before you leave the house in the morning you’ll want to check the wind at West Point and the wind history to see if it’s been holding from the NE all night and what it’s currently doing. Then check the rest of the stations further down the Sound and ferry wind. When you go out the south end of the breakwater at Shilshole you’ll want to grab the bino’s and check the flag at the light house at West Point. The reason for this is that it will dictate where you start on the line. If, as I suspect, the breeze is from the northeast at West Point you’ll want to be able to start in clear air just about 1/3rd of the way down from the pin on starboard tack. You’ll want to hold the starboard gybe ending up just outside the West Point Buoy with the ability to gybe to port and aim at Alki Point. This will keep you in slightly stronger breeze as you head down the Sound. You’ll hold the port tack until you either get lifted above Alki or you can gybe and lay the south end of Blake Island. Remember you can round Blake Island either direction, however in the northerly I can’t remember ever seeing it work to round the Island to port.

As you head towards the south end of Blake remember that in the northerly there is a huge light spot that extends from the south end of the Island to about ¼ of the way to the ferry dock at Southworth. As you get about ½ way across the Sound towards the south end of the Island go ahead and take another gybe to port until you can gybe back laying that imaginary point marked by the star in the picture.

The star marks the spot
Between the star and the island is death – at least for the wind.

You do this in the Sound where you’ll have more wind and less adverse current coming out of Colvos. Try not to sail between the star and the Island as the dead spot is much wider and there is an eastward flowing current along the south end of the Island.

Once you’re on final towards that point, it’s time to get set up to get some serious momentum built up for coasting through that light spot. That means having everything set up so that when the spinnaker you’re reaching with across the bottom end of the Island collapses and blows back into your face you can get it down quickly and easily so it won’t act as a brake.

Blake to Restoration Point.
Blake to Restoration Point.

You might keep the headsail down until you’ve gotten through that dead spot and into the northerly that’s on the backside of the Island. That way it won’t act as a brake as well. Once the wind is back and the current is pushing you to the north, get the headsail right up and start beating.

The short course is up the west side of the Island but that tends to be flukey in close so just try to hold the starboard tack which should lift you as you get to the north end of the Island. If you find yourself being headed on starboard and the wind speed dropping take a short tack to the east until you can tack and lay the beach on the south end of Bainbridge about a ½ mile west of Restoration. In the picture you can see the darker water (more wind) holding all the way up to Bainbridge with minefields on either side. You want to get up to that shore to take advantage of the back eddy that flows east along that shore.

Blake Island #2
Look for the dark water on the west side of Blake.

Once you are on port and you’ve cleared Restoration Point if you’re not aimed at Elliott Bay Marina take another short hitch up on starboard until you can tack to port and be aimed somewhere between Elliott Bay Marina and Four Mile Rock. Remember the rule as you approach the beach south of West Point and don’t get inside of a line drawn from the lighthouse to Four Mile Rock. The tide may be flooding but it will still be plenty shallow in there. As you approach the bluff on port it will get puffy and there will be some knocks however hold on to the port board as long as you dare so that when you tack to starboard you are headed right at the Lighthouse. This will keep you out of the building flood tide. At West Point remember that the bar extends slightly further to the west this year. Hold starboard until you can tack to port and be well off the beach on the north side of the Point.

As you go in towards Shilshole remember the restricted zone at the entrance to the Ship Canal but get up in there so that you can take the starboard tack lifts as you approach the finish.

The same great conditions should also make the summer Vashon Island Race another epic event with possible record times since there probably won’t be that huge light spot from Robinson down to the finish at TYC.

For the 505’s in Bellingham, look for some light air in the morning but when the wind stabilizes from of all directions, the west, get ready for some great sailing.

For the rest of you cruisers, enjoy weekend and get to your favorite anchorage early, the marina at the North end of Blake Island is already almost full.

Have a great, safe time out there.