John Buchan’s Glory won the ORC Division of the Round the County Race, despite a smokin’ first to finish on day two by Steve Travis’ Smoke. The “newest” member of the big boat fleet made its first racing appearance as Steve Johnson’s Mist.
Of course Mist is already known in the area as Braveheart and then Valkyrie. Crossfire definitely has her hands full with all these TP 52s flying around. Nigel Barron of Crossfire reports, “We hooked some kelp halfway down San Juan Island that didn’t help, and really had some issues keeping the boat going in the lumps.”
The PHRF podium was filled with Division “0” boats, led by Darrin Towe’s Melges 32 Wicked Wahine. Carl Buchan ended up 10 minutes back in Madrona and Shorett/Burzycki’s Farr 395 Ace finished third with a particularly strong first day.
It’s worth noting that two Moore 24s cracked the top 10 overall with Bruzer in fourth and Moore Uff Da in eighth. That design never ages.
All photos by Jan Anderson, and of course there are many more. Please support Jan.
Local regular Bob Brunius won his class with the J/120 Time Bandit, but it wasn’t without a bit of self-reflection. “After having a disastrous race last year because of two faulty tactical decisions I made, I was thinking toxic thoughts about my ability to do this racing thing anymore. This year was different. Each day this race I made a call based on local knowledge that separated us from the fleet significantly and paid hugely. Confidence restored.”
The mighty Santa Cruz 33 Muffin hit an unmarked spire northeast side of Patos and retired under her own power to Anacortes, with no threat of sinking. Skipper Garry Greth said about the incident, “It is faster go in there for current relief and pressure in a southerly, but you can’t go in that far!” Note we’re hoping to do a full on piece on Muffin‘s remarkable renovation over the last few years here on sailish.com.
And finally, the results of the RTC Youth Sailing Challenge are in with Wild Rumpus earning $2131 for youth sailing, followed by Crazy Salsa with $1872 and Time Bandit with $1335.
If you’re up in the Islands then you are already feeling what’s coming tomorrow. Smith Island currently showing 28 with gusts to 32 from SE and the barometer is still dropping. So while there will be wind in the Straits, it still looks like the starting area could be a problem. Once you get just a little ways south you should be sailing into a building southeasterly where along the very bottom of the course you could see 15-25 with higher gusts. By the time you get to Davidson Rock it should back off to 15 from the SE and then steadily drop as you approach the finish. On the run north, there will tend to be more wind on the west side of the course.
The real question about getting heading for home on Sunday comes down “well, do you feel lucky?” If you’re trying to get back to Seattle and you think you can make it to Port Townsend before 1800 hours go ahead and roll the dice. The next blast of SE will fill in around midnight but you will still be in 15-25 knots on and off all the way back. After midnight expect 25+ from the SE. Regardless, I would probably park the boat at Orcas, enjoy the post-race party, and salute your fellow competitors. Plan to bring the boat down later, much later. Just check out the surface charts.
If you’re headed back to Vancouver, and you finish by 1300-1400, the key will be to be back at your slip in Vancouver before midnight. For the run north, you’ll have consistently 15-25 from the SE. After midnight expect it to build to 25-30 with higher gusts.
Contrary to what my friend Nigel says, the logs don’t sink below the surface after dark. So be careful out there.
Today’s Half – A Good Day’s Sail
As far as the racing went today, well, word it was a good day on the water with no rain. The results.
Our friends on Crossfire were quick to get out the following track.
The videos, by Malcolm MacNeil, show the duel to the finish between Crossfire and Glory. Crossfire just beat them across the line, But Glory won the day on corrected time in ORC. Over on the PHRF side, it was apparently a Moore kind of day with Moore 24s taking the top three spots in Division 5 with the top Moore, Bruzer, grabbing first in fleet. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in tomorrow’s blow. After all is said and done, I’ll be looking for material (stories, photos, vids) to post. Hit me. -KH
The UW Sailing team sent singlehanders Erik Skeel and Laura Smit to Nationals in Florida. They’ll bring back some hard-earned experience to this very fun, very active team. Go Dawgs! Here’s Erik Skeel’s report:
Each year in September, college sailors from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia compete in Lasers to qualify for college sailing singlehanded nationals. This year the qualifying regatta was held at Shilshole. After one day of good racing Laura Smit from University of Washington was leading the woman’s fleet in radials, and I held first place in the men’s fleet in the full rig by just one point. In typical Northwest fashion the second day of the regatta refused to have enough wind to race. The Radial Fleet didn’t get off any races so Laura earned the woman’s berth to nationals. One race was completed in the men’s fleet, but it bumped me to second, leaving University of British Columbia in first. UBC decided not to go to nationals despite earning the berth, so I found myself booking plane tickets to Florida for nationals.
Singlehanded Nationals was held the first weekend of November, so as Seattle was getting covered in snow, Laura and I were flying to sunny Florida. Laser Performance outfitted all 18 sailors in each fleet with brand new Laser hulls, spars, rigging, and Mark II sails for the full rigs. To the other sailors from schools such as Stanford, Yale, and College of Charleston, this probably was not far from what they usually raced with, but I was blown away; I’d never even sailed with a Mark II sail. It quickly became clear that I was one of the only sailors without a paid varsity coach and I think I was the only sailor in the men’s fleet without a coach present who could offer support and advice on the water. The atmosphere was a stark contrast to the college sailing I was used to in the Pacific Northwest, but I tried not to let that discourage me.
Report time was 9:00am on Saturday, but everyone was already rigged by then and soon after began launching for a 10:00am start. The wind was a solid 5-8 knots in the morning until it dropped around 2:00. Racing was tough, but I had expected that as I was competing against the best college sailors in the nation. After all, among those in the regatta was 2016 Olympian Stefano Peschiera and others who will probably campaign for the Olympics. Due to the lack of wind in the previous afternoon, the first warning on Sunday was 9:00am. The wind, though slightly weaker than the previous morning, was shiftier, making for more variable scores among the competitors. With one day of racing under my belt, I had a better idea of how to approach such a competitive start and how to fight for clear air while still playing the shifts and sailing a strategic path. There was no room for error with such a talented fleet. If I ever missed a shift, took a risk that didn’t pay, or lost too much speed on a maneuver, I’d find myself suddenly fighting not to get last. Despite the incredible competition from sailors who had much better training and resources than me, when I sailed my best I was able to hang with the best sailors. On Sunday I had a couple races where I rounded the first mark in the top five. It was an honor to represent the Northwest college district at nationals. Men’s Results. Women’s Results.
There’s a reason why Round the County (RTC) is one of the most popular races in the Pacific Northwest and this weekend will only continue to further that reputation. The course, in addition to being just beautiful, is always a challenge with interesting rivers of tidal current and winds that do their best to be unpredictable. As we get closer to the start the different models are not very much in agreement and it’s easy to see why, just check out the current surface analysis and then the forecast chart for tomorrow.
We currently have a weak, 1009 MB, low-pressure system off of the central Oregon coast trying to move inland. There is a deepening low-pressure system off of SE Alaska which is riding the jet stream (500MB chart) towards the Pacific Northwest and will start to impact us Sunday night and into next week. Delivery skippers heading south may want to park the boat after the race. If you’re headed north and back to Vancouver, be prepared for some breeze. I’ll update this on Sunday.
0912 Max Flood 2.14 knts
1515 Max Ebb 1.66 knts
1537 Max Ebb 1.38 knts
For Saturday that weak low-pressure system will be gone and we’ll have a pair of weak high-pressure systems inland slowing the approach of that low from SE Alaska. In addition, we’ll have a weak low-pressure trough off our coast ahead of that approaching cold front. So what does that mean for racing? Be prepared for just about anything. Since most of the time, we race in windward-leeward format, the reaching equipment is usually buried in the gear locker. Get out those barber haulers, snatch blocks and reaching sheets and make sure they are readily available along with the drifter. Those crews that trim and change gears aggressively will be the winners. While the forecast may be for small craft advisories on both Saturday and Sunday, the timing of the breeze is very much in question. Also, the wind will be from the southeast however where it will be is still a very big question.
Click to enlarge image:
For the start expect light air, downwind conditions with the wind building slightly as you get north of Lawrence Point on Orcas. From Lawrence to Patos you will essentially be dead downwind so you’ll be watching the gybe angles and your SOG with the flood tide. Also be aware of the limiting marks found in the SI’s. The really interesting part of the race will be from Patos to Turn Point as the southeasterly is going to have a hard time getting over Orcas and back to touching down in Boundary Pass. After 1300 hours you’ll at least have the tide with you. This is where the models are very divergent as to when the steadier breeze might fill in. One model has Crossfire finishing at around 1300 hrs while another has them in around 1430 hrs.
Sunday will be quite a different story as that low gets closer to the race course. This shouldn’t be a gear busting thrash to Davidson Rock however you could see puffs to 20 knots from SE the closer you get to Davidson. Unfortunately, the problem may be the starting line and where the committee decides to set it. You may recall in 2015 that after a wild Saturday, the Sunday start was set in a real hole and a number of contenders were unable to even make the start line. Those that made it had a nice beat in a southeasterly after they got past Lime Kiln Point.
Tidal Currents Sunday
1036 Max Flood 1.61 knts
1656 Max Ebb 1.61 knts
0900 Max Flood 1.5 knts
1630 Max Ebb 1.94 knts
In addition to the challenge of getting away from the starting line, you’ll also be sailing into a building flood tide until you get past False Bay. Keep track of COG and SOG until you are solidly into the current that’s going your way. Ideally, you’d like to finish before 1300 hrs. The current GRIB files have Crossfire finishing just after noon. Think about starting with the headsail in the port groove so you’d hoist the next headsail while on starboard tack, then do a short hitch to port away from the Island to drop the old headsail.
Besides getting all the reach gear ready make sure safety comes first. Have a great weekend and if you’ve got AIS please leave it on for the race so I can armchair race along with you! Thanks
Seems like everyone not already up in the Islands, is going to leave on Friday, which should work just fine. Tides will not be great however what wind there is will be from the SE.
As you can see from the surface charts there is a weak low-pressure system off the coast that is moving to the SE with an attached frontal system. This will dissipate on Friday and will result in unstable conditions for the Race over the weekend.
For delivery on Friday, if you’re leaving from Seattle, expect 10-15 knots from the SE which will lighten to 5-10 from the SE by noon or about the time you’ll be crossing the Straits. If your mast is short enough you can go up the inside and through the Swinomish Slough, just be careful of the shallow spots in the Slough.
Tides at Bush Point
0606 Max Flood 2.76 knts
1406 Max Ebb 1.57 knts
1918 Max Flood 1.35 knts
Tides at Rosario Straits
0712 Max Flood 2.06 knts
1430 Max Ebb 1.44 knts
1918 Max Flood .25 knts
Preliminary Race forecast
Who can forget two years ago when we had a downwind start and Crossfire made it from the starting line to Alden Point in 45 minutes. It won’t be that good this year but it will be similar. Remember to follow the SI’s and report your time at the Alden Point because from Alden Point to the finish could get very light and flukey.
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.
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.
The view this morning is looking to the north at the San Juan Islands and to the northwest at Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Malahat Pass, all of which have a dusting of SNOW! So for those of you getting ready to head out for a weekend on the water, dress appropriately because it is COLD! This should also serve as a reminder for those getting ready for Round the County next weekend to dig out the long johns, pocket warmers, foot warmers, safety harnesses and tethers. The really long range forecast (and probably NOT very accurate) shows a cranking onshore flow for that weekend. Hint, tomorrow looks like a great day to run the boat north and don’t just go part way, start very early and do it in one day because Sunday the breeze will be from the north and cold.
As you look at the charts today you can see why we got the snow with a high in southern BC and a low off our coast. As these systems shift to the east this will bring us light air Saturday becoming southerly in the late afternoon. On Sunday we’ll be under the influence of the backside of the low which will bring us a northerly, not too strong but very cool.
The 7 November chart shows a 984MB low combining with a 988MB low and coming right towards the Pacific Northwest but stalling off our coast as the coastal buffer zone kicks in. We’ll be watching this as some of you have been asking about weather for doing the delivery north starting Thursday or Friday. We’ll provide a Wednesday update for deliveries and the Race forecast on Friday.
If you have any specific questions about the Race, please get those to me by Thursday night and I’ll do my best to get them answered.
Also, Kurt did a great job with the survey he sent out and it obviously hit a nerve because he got a pretty large number of replies. Take some time to review the results and if it inspires you to post comments on the blog or send them directly to Kurt, feel free. It’s all good.
The response to the post and survey I put out there October 19 was excellent. Now it’s time to start doing something with the results!
It’s no surprise, you Northwest sailors LOVE sailboat racing. 250 of you took the saving handicapping racing survey, and over half (!) came through with additional written comments and suggestions. So, not only do you love it, you’re interested in getting more boats out there!
Blog posts obviously aren’t the solution. Ideas and action are.
But before any of this, listening is always a good idea. Reading through 24 pages of single-spaced comments may seem intimidating to Joe and Jill Racer want to do, but I think race organizers, handicappers and yacht club officials might find it interesting and a great well of ideas. Very well worth the read. There are some rambles, but there’s truth in those as well. (A glass of wine or a beer might help wash it all down. Not all of it will be easy to take for race officials and handicappers. As one commentator said at the end of his rant “I have more but my drink is empty now.” So it’s fair, if they’re drinking when writing, you can drink while reading.) I taken out names unless they have an official role (YC Commodore, owner of a business etc.) and in a couple places edited a little to keep us clear of personal attacks and on course for solutions.
Following are the survey results. No, they’re not rigorously scientific but some trends are certainly clear. Please share with your club or event organizers.
While the results and the comments are all here, if you have a Google account you can go over the results as Google presents them here. That provides better access to the precise survey data. Note that the comments pdf includes comments from the blog and emails I received, which are not on the survey.
In a subsequent post I’m going to come up with a hit list of actions (in light of this survey) that sailish.com can take, as well as yacht clubs, race organizers and racers.
Click on any image to enlarge.
As far as who took the survey, there was a bit of encouraging news. I was afraid it would all be “old folk,” but a full 40% of respondents were between 18-49. Sadly, but not surprisingly women made up only 12%. Most were skippers, most were very experienced and only 14% sailed dinghies. The audience was predominantly from the Central Sound, though we had input from all over, even out of the area. The big pie chart here is racer’s attitude toward the sport – i.e. whether or not it’s lack of participation is a big concern. The resounding answer was yes, to varying degrees, including a sizeable portion (12.7%) who feel “I love racing so much I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Legend for results:
Here’s where we’re hopefully starting to get some valuable and surprising data. The usual suspects, cost and handicapping issues, were certainly there but perhaps not to the degree one might expect. Rules, physical demands and the seriousness of racing were all non-factors. The clearest message from this graphic, and one echoed in the comments, is that getting and maintaining a crew is a major issue. Not surprisingly, few people found something better to do than racing sailboats.
As we go into the meat of the survey by asking them what would get them on the water, clear trends seem to emerge. More casual events, a better handicapping system, more shorthanded classes, new courses, an organized season championship and better socializing arrangements are desired. Late afternoon/early evening racing on weekends intrigued a few people. (Several people commented that Sunday – instead of Saturday – racing would be better) There are a lot of racers who want to split the lightweight sport boats from the heavier boats. The graphic that really caught my eye is that many people wanted a more welcoming atmosphere.
The really good news with all of this is that the things people want are truly achievable. A more welcoming atmosphere, new courses and an organized season championship are all doable.
The handicapping issue? Well, that’s one of the things we’ll pick up in a future post.
As Bruce Hedrick predicted, the best (and nearly only) Grand Prix races were on Friday. The Seattle Yacht Club race committee got off two good races, but didn’t find enough wind for racing Saturday and only one light affair on Sunday.
That said, the racers enjoyed a dock postponement which was a chance for nap or catching up with old friends and foes. Some sailors just went around and enjoyed the fall sunshine while others enjoyed it on the water.
In the final ORC results, Glory corrected on Crossfire by a bit over a minute in the final race to get the victory. In the one design and PHRF classes, Moose Unknown bested the usual suspects in the J/105 class and the Uno added another walkaway class win in Class 4.
The J/80s finished with a three-way tie for first, which was broken in Jolly Green‘s favor. And Charlie Macaulay won the “big” PHRF class 2 with Absolutely. More on that in a minute.
Jarred Swalwell of the Aphrodite 101 Elixir wasn’t sure what to expect in Class 4 before the series began. As he explained it beforehand, “The SYC Grand Prix Class 4 is a real curiosity. Lined up by size, each boat is about half the displacement of the next including: a modern cruiser racer, the family man’s meter boat circa 1978, the very first ultralight, a sport boat, and a dinghy which I think weighs in at 948 lbs. Yikes.” Uno certainly answered those expectations, as she usually does. She won Sunday’s race by 42 minutes. That all said, Swalwell had a great time throughout the weekend, even when the race was cancelled:
Well, unfortunately Bruce was nearly spot on with the forecast this weekend. Friday turned out to be a bit more wind than predicted I think, maybe closer to the high end of 10 knots. We had two great races and given what happened with the rest of the weekend maybe should have gotten off a third. Saturday was a series of postponements with the RC making the calls from the CYC dock (or bar?). The wind picked up just a tiny bit after noon so we shoved off the dock to enjoy a spectacular day on the water, particularly for the end of October. We coasted out to the middle of the sound, then up past Meadow Point, and as the evening breeze filled in we sailed Elixir back into her guest slip at around 5:30. There were a few boats out there with us, but it seemed that the bulk of the GP participants missed out on an excellent, if a bit relaxing, day on the water despite there being no races. Sunday was definitely a trying day on the water with several tests of patience. After floating in the fog for a bit on postponement, the northerly seemed to start to fill and the RC called a distance race, which for most of us was up to Meadow Point then down around Blakely Rock and back. Classes 1-3 started on a fairly decent breeze that slowly eased as the rest of us started. If there were a few more tenths of a knot of current I don’t know that we would have made the Meadow Point Buoy. After that it felt like we were chasing the edges of puffs all the way down and back up until it completely shut down for a spell in front of a fog bank sitting just to the North of Shilshole. Boats that had made it to the eastern shore early seemed to ride a shore breeze back up and did quite well… we were not among them. We got the gun as the last across (several other boats retired), but as consolation received compliments from the RC for the show we put on with spinnaker against the Olympics and a beautiful late fall PNW sunset. BTW, did the delivery back home to Edmonds this morning in perfect 7-12 knots of northerly breeze… of course.
Jarred’s wife and Elixir’s co-owner Megan Kogut echoed the positive vibes from the weekend. “I thought the Grand Prix weekend was great.” She also added that she wished the Race Committee would have given it a try later in the day on Saturday or at least come when there was enough wind to be play around in. She said “We got to the CYC clubhouse at sunset and no one who was racing that day was still there. I think the RC could have done more to create a sense of enjoyment of the day and community rather than encourage people to go to the bar at 2 pm. It was fun on Sunday in the fog with all of the boats waiting for the wind to kick up, and I would have liked more of that on Saturday.”
(Those of us who bolt home at the moment we can should maybe take note!)
Jarred and Kogut ended up with one notable feather in their caps, a third place, winning the tie-breaker with Vela Volta.
And then there was Charlie Macaulay and the smooth running Absolutely. Since acquiring the Farr 39, Macaulay has been racing a lot, and winning nearly as much. His happy crew notched another victory, this time over Ace and Wicked Wahine, which were only a point apart in second and third. Here’s Charlie:
It was a great weekend and we sailed pretty well (except for a few light air frustration calls by me on Sunday that, luckily, didn’t hurt us too bad).
I certainly have no great insight on what happened on the water. All I can do is restate that obvious that Friday afternoon was one of the great sailing days of the year. Sun, breeze, relatively warm, and great competition. What more could anyone ask for?
The great work the folks at SYC do to put this regatta together should be emphasized. The regatta chair, Regan Edwards, did a fabulous job putting everything together – even cooking pizzas at CYC on Saturday. SYC really does this one right – and all those skippers and crew who didn’t come out missed a fabulous event! Hopefully, they’ll reconsider next year and enter the regatta and make it even better.
And if I hear anyone complain again about the high entry fee, I’m gonna lose it. There’s no better way to thank your crew for a great season of sailing than by sailing in this regatta and which also buys them all dinner and beer for two nights!
Now there’s a skipper who’s thinking about his crew! Congratulations to Charlie, Jarred and Megan, SYC and everyone who raced on Puget Sound through the summer and fall seasons.
And to those of you wondering where the survey results are, they’re coming this week. 250 of you sailors took the survey and about half of you came up with original comments and ideas. They’re so fun to read and they show just how much we love racing. I’m going to go through them, clean them up and post them along with the survey results. I’m confident that this will be a springboard for discussion and ideas, hopefully increasing participation and making the sport better for everyone.
For a while this week it was looking like Grand Prix might, once again, be a total washout. Luckily, the weather changes and while Saturday looks pretty grim, today looks like the best breeze and Sunday might have some breeze by early to mid-afternoon. In other words, win all the races you can today as that may be all races you’re going to have.
There won’t be much tidal action this weekend so that’s good when the breeze is going to be light.
1400 Max Ebb .39 knots
1942 Max Flood .52 knots
0748 Max Flood .98 knots
1412 Max Ebb .37 knots
2036 Max Flood .53 knots
0848 Max Flood .91 knots
1430 Max Ebb .33 knots
2200 Max Flood .60 knots
Looking at the surface charts you can’t help but notice the strong offshore flow coming from the 1034MB high-pressure system situated to the northeast of us. This is generating easterly winds through the Gorge, the mountain passes, and the Straits. In the central Sound, this will cause 5-10 knots of northerly with occasional shifts to the northeast. Tacticians will have fun with that today depending on where the RC sends you. The puffs will tend to be more northeasterly the more you are to the east side of the Sound and as the day goes on, there will be less wind over the entire area and especially on the east side of the Sound.
Saturday looks like a great day for powerboating with temperatures approaching 70° and 0 to 3 knots of breeze from all over the compass. The Husky game is early for once so we should all be back in time to watch that.
Right now Sunday looks like it could be very light in the morning with a weak northerly filling down the Sound by early to mid-afternoon. As you can see from the charts there simply won’t be much gradient over the area after today. Remember, however, that this could also result in a very nice thermally induced northerly, so keep your fingers crossed.
The chart for Tuesday, the 30th, is interesting just because of the monster low-pressure systems we have lurking out in the Pacific. Note the words “hurricane force” and “rapidly intensifying”, eventually one of those is going to find its way into our area.
Wear your sunblock, have fun and enjoy the weekend.