Yanez Repeats at the 2017 Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta in Bellingham

Yanez Repeats at the 2017 Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta in Bellingham

It was a small but mighty fleet of Lasers at Bellingham Yacht Club’s Dale Jepsen One Design regatta this year. Jorge Yanez, the winner of the DJOD last year and the winner of the Laser Radial Masters Nationals event in the Gorge this year was there; the winner and runner up from 2015, Sascha Smutny and Doug Honey were there; and Perham Black, fresh off his win at the Bellingham Youth Regatta was there. The top of the 9-boat fleet was so evenly matched that places changed at nearly every mark rounding.

This is a photo from the Laser fleet in a previous Dale Jepsen Regatta.

Mike Johnson lead the regatta after two races with a first and a third for four points, followed closely by Yanex and Black with five points each. Yanez jumped out after that with two firsts in races 3 and 4, establishing a five point lead on Black. Undeterred, Black went hard right on the last beat of the last race, jumping past several boats and winning the race. Yanez finished 4th to save the regatta win by one point.  If he had been 5th, the tie breaker would have gone to Black.  

Third place went to Mike Johnson with only 4 points separating third through sixth places. It is for this kind of tight racing, often overlapped with other boats at every mark rounding and multiple boats arriving at the finish together, that we keep showing up. There were no protests, no starting line abuses, and only a few capsizes. Racers compared their ideas after each race were clearly glad to be lucky enough to be having fun among friends.  

Results here.

Regatta chair Mike Poulos, race officer Jonathan Knowles and their terrific volunteers, did a great job under difficult circumstances to choreograph five well-run and fair races. All races occurred on Sunday due to no wind on Saturday. Saturday had been the regatta organizer’s nightmare. Just enough wind to leave shore that went flat at the first warning, and then came back up 10 minutes after all boats got back to the parking lot. So on Sunday, everyone was elated to see a sunny 8 to 12 knot southeasterly materialize from the glassy bay – less than an hour before the first warning. The breeze held nicely right up through the last race and then died.  

It is interesting to note that only three participants at the event this year were also at the event last year.  Some could say we lost the others but the positive perspective says we gained several new people. Let’s build on that momentum and have some great events this fall. We could have a start at Corinthian’s PSSC (October 7-8) and Turkey Bowl (November 18-19). Would it be crazy to imagine 15 Laser’s on the starting line?

–Jay Leon

Ed. Note: I’d love to post something on the FJ and 505 fleets, so if anyone wants to share some words or photos, send them along and I’ll get them in. Also, thanks to Jay for the Laser report. No, indeed, 15 Lasers is not too many to expect for for PSSC and Turkey Bowl, especially if the great young sailors show up. Maybe both full rig and Radial fleets? Note this video from the Junior Olympic Regatta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlos Abisambra in action.

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

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

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

“Kids” Win: 505 North Americans in Bellingham

“Kids” Win: 505 North Americans in Bellingham
All photos by Jan Anderson. Check out the rest on her Smugmug site.

I got the chance to see the last race of the 505 North Americans, and wouldn’t you know, it was the worst of the series, or so I’m told. The light wind everyone feared had held off pretty much the first three days, but this last penultimate race was the kind of Bellingham Bay Race that leaves a little to be desired. It was, however, fun to watch. Douglas Hagan got off to a commanding lead after being the starting rabbit and getting all the way out to the favored right side of the course. Carl and Carol Buchan worked from a disastrous start and you could almost hear the drums beating as they moved their way up through the fleet. In the end they came up a bit short and Hagan held onto a well-earned victory.

In the end, young Riley Gibbs and Reeve Dunne edged Howie Hamlin and Jeff Nelson for the top overall spot. Hamlin couldn’t be too disappointed or surprised, as he set up Gibbs with a boat and a great deal of mentoring along the way.

52473XLBut the bigger aspect of this event was its success as an event. 50 boats (well, 49 on the water but who’s counting) competed, and by all accounts it was one of the best regattas in a long time.

The Bellingham Yacht Club faithful got it all right. They promoted early and got the club and class excited about the event. They lined up sponsorship without sponsorship being the focus of the event. The race committee did a great job. There were plenty of shoreside activities. They set up a spectator boat. Kudos to Mike Poulos, Paul Pihl and I’m sure man others who pulled this off.

53990X2For those of you who don’t know, not only is the 505 the sexiest (IMHO) boat around, it’s one of the most cohesive set of sailors around. 2406X2They love helping each other find new speed, they love promoting the class to other (including new) sailors, and they appreciate the spark plugs in the class that keep it going. Any class that has annual food fights as part of its history has got to be a lot of fun.


I’ll be writing up a short piece for Sailing World on this event, which will appear in the magazine sometime later this year.