Center Sound Ends with Epic Conditions

Center Sound Ends with Epic Conditions
Sachem heading into the mark.

CYC’s Center Sound Series wrapped up with a gorgeous Three Tree Point Race on Saturday. The course, however, didn’t ever get near Three Tree Point as it was shortened to Shilshole-Alki-Meadowpoint-finish. The southerly stayed in the 12-16 knot range for the most part and was actually a bit higher for the beat to Alki. Just as Bruce Hedrick predicted. (sorry, had to mention it)

So it was a fast race with plenty of time to party afterward, and no real surprises in the results. Sachem is still a force upwind, and with waterline conditions downwind she held on for a 2-second overall win ahead of Bravo Zulu and 46 seconds ahead of Finale. In fact it was an all around good day for the “furniture” boats of the fleet, with most of the classes won by medium weight boats with real interiors.

Check out these photos from Jan Anderson and see the all of them on her site. 


Crossfire’s Track

In the ORC class laden with carbon rockets, furniture didn’t fare quite as well. Glory chased Crossfire closely around the course the entire way, taking the victory from the mighty 55-footer on corrected time. the Farr 395 Eye Candy, a bone fide cruiser-racer, did manage third on corrected time for her best race of the series.

Different Drummer

Among the cruiser racers that deserve special mention is the Wauquez 40 Different Drummer. Designed by Berret/Racoupeau Yacht Design, it is a great example of what a modern cruiser racer can be. Owner Charles Hill explains the wins didn’t come right away. “It’s taken us a while. We’ve been at this for nine years.” But with being named 48 North’s top boat for 2016, and another Center Sound class win under her belt, it’s clear Different Drummer has found her stride. Hill, who is originally from the U.K., credits a stable, skilled crew for the uptick the last couple of years. A new bottom last year didn’t hurt.

Hill, whose previous racing was on the Irish Sea in events like the Fastnet, says the conditions there aren’t dissimilar to here. And, funny enough, he didn’t buy the boat for racing originally. “We were sucked into the racing,” he explained. Drummer of course has heat and and a fridge, among many other comforts.

For Three Tree, Different Drummer had a single mission, stay in touch with and hopefully ahead of the Sierra 26 Dos. “We figure below eight knots they’re going to beat us, and above 18 knots it doesn’t matter what we do upwind, they’ll just fly by us downwind,” Hill says. “Ten to 16 knots is our sweet spot.” With a 2,1,1 series in a variety conditions, I’d say the sweet spot is sweet indeed.

Oh yeah, and why the shortened course? I’ll let Matt Wood, Race Fleet Captain for CYC, explain:

All the wind models the PRO and I looked at that morning were calling for the wind dying quickly around 1 PM. As many boats DNF’d due to lack of wind in the Blakely Rock race, if the same thing were to happen in the 3Tree Point race, we could have had a 1 race ” series” . 

As the only mark in the non “alternative course” description was the 3 Tree Point turning mark, we face a logistics challenge to attempt to get on station down there and finish, but also maintain a finish line off Shilshole. The whalers are less than ideal for this purpose, and YC5 cannot be in 2 places at once, nor can it move that fast.

As such, we decided to run a race in what wind we did have, and , of course, the breeze held all afternoon. That said, the breeze did eventually go light and variable in the middle of the afternoon off Alki, and was pretty much done off Shilshole by 5 or so, which would have been when the majority of the fleet would have made it to the original finish line. We did not please everyone, but we did get a 3 race series in for most people, and pulled off a good social event at the YC in the afternoon. As a note, the RC did not get off the water until 3 PM notwithstanding, as there were several stragglers.

Up next, Sloop Tavern’s Blakely Rock Benefit Race. This year it will benefit The Sailing Foundation, so pony up and get out there. The Sailing Foundation does great things for young sailors around here. And, as always, we’ll be tapping Hedrick to prognosticate the weather on Friday.

Remember, you can sign up for the newsletter.  I’m also trying to get some local discussion going on forums. Just look for the “Forums: Have Your Say” menu item and pull down. You’ll have to register over in the sidebar. Let me know if anything isn’t working, or if you have some topics you’d like to get going.

Bruce’s Brief for March 25-26 and Three Tree Point Race

Bruce’s Brief for March 25-26 and Three Tree Point Race

It’s the last race of the Center Sound Series and only a week to go before the Sloop Tavern Blakely Rock Benefit Race. Not only is the weather warming up, so is the racing and so is the cruising. For the first time in a long time, there were boats headed across the Sound to Blake Island this morning. Those folks are the smart ones as they are testing their boats before they go on the longer cruises later this spring or summer. This will give them plenty of time to make arrangements with their boatyard, boat maintenance facility or sailmaker to get any problems taken care of before the late spring/summer rush puts you way down the list. Just a thought….

(Ed. Note: We’re trying something new to us, a forum! If you want to discuss Bruce’s brief, the race or the series, try going here. You’ll have to create a login in the sidebar at the right. Of course, keep it civil and productive. Also, please help spread the word about this weather brief and the forum.)

While we’ve had yet another fairly wet week, tomorrow actually looks fairly decent with minimal rain and a nice breeze for racing even though we are going south of Alki. However, don’t get all excited and break out the lawn chairs and BBQ quite yet. Be sure to look at the 28 March Surface Forecast Chart and note that fairly nasty 973MB Low-Pressure system in the mid-Pacific with the label Hurricane Force. Yes, it will slightly degrade as it comes across the Pacific however it’s on track to get to the Pacific Northwest by next weekend. We’ll be watching that one.

Tidal Current at Sewage Point, whoops, I mean West Point.

0918      Slack

1224      Max Flood            .85 knots

1512      Slack

1718      Max Ebb                 .43 knots

2006      Slack

Since the tides are fairly minimal and mostly favorable we’ll focus on the wind and the course. The front on today’s chart rolled through our area between 0600 and 0700 this morning and we are now in a post-frontal situation which will hold through Saturday and see the offshore wind go from due southerly now to southwesterly and then westerly tomorrow before backing to the south-southeast on Sunday. The good news is that when the wind finally does force its way down the Straits into Admiralty Inlet, we should be finished. Keep your fingers crossed. The models are currently in agreement that we should have consistently south-southwesterly breeze over the entire course. Look for 8 to 15 in the starting area, which should build as you go across Elliott Bay to 10 to 20 and then ease to 10 to 15 from Alki to Three Tree Point. You’ll be sailing primarily on starboard tack and remember that the shortest course is right down the east side of the Sound so start with the headsail in the starboard groove so you can take a short hitch to port, hoist the new jib, and then tack back to the favored starboard tack to drop the old headsail.

Once again, since you’ll be sailing through the slower boats in front of you, find the clear air and don’t spend time sailing in dirty air.

At Three Tree Point, give the Point plenty of clearance. If you go aground here, your friends will never let you forget it. You’ll want to have all your spin gear set up for a port pole, port tack hoist and get this done before you leave the dock so you can keep everyone hiking all the way to the mark.

The run back to the finish should be fairly straight forward with no need to gybe. As you sail up the Sound be sure to watch the boats in front to see if the breeze goes forward near the top end of Vashon and Blake Island before coming aft again north of Alki. Have a headsail tee’d up just in case. This is also a leg where a staysail will pay dividends so talk about that in the morning before you leave the dock. Also, once everything is set and working, send the navigator below to check the wind reports on the VHF to make sure the northerly isn’t coming down the Sound ahead of schedule.

On the run back after about 1400 hours look for the breeze to start to drop from 10-15 to 6-10 knots. It will pay to be an early finisher in your fleet.

Sunday look for a strong pre-frontal southeasterly to develop in the eastern Straits while the breeze will stay less than 10 knots over the central and south Sound and oh yeah, the rain will return on Sunday as well.

Be safe and have a great day on the water.

So how fast will Crossfire go around the course tomorrow? Based upon a course of 30 nm and Crossfire sailing 31.78 miles they should finish in 2 hrs 53 min and 40 secs. WOW!


Scatchet Head Race – A Place for Cold Men

Scatchet Head Race – A Place for Cold Men

With the results now final, we get to talk about last Saturday’s Scatchet Head race, middle race of CYC’s Center Sound Series.

I don’t know about anybody else who was on the rail on Saturday’s beat back from Scatchet Head, but I was COLD. And WET. And HAPPY. Hey, it’s March and the East Coast is having a blizzard. I know the boys and girls in the Midwest are still many weeks away from launching.

Scatchet Head has tossed up some gnarly races the last few years, but this year things were a lot tamer. There was plenty of wind for a quick race.

A lot of theatrics occurred before the race. A J/105 split its chute while practicing before the start. Tahlequah was sorting out some new crew positions and was late to the start. On Grace we shrimped a chute while practicing, then started in the wrong start when there seemed to be a hiccup by the race committee, and barely made it back for our start when our jib stuck in the track. And, wouldn’t you know it, we ended up nailing our start just about perfectly. Yeah, we meant to do that.

The Race Committee also had some issues causing a fair amount of consternation in the fleet. Eventually, everyone got off, spinnakers flying, toward Whidbey Island. It’s not clear what happened in the starting sequence, but it had a lot of tacticians scratching their fuzzy hats. CYC race fleet captain Matt Wood reports the unspecified results issues have all been resolved.

Photos by Jan Anderson. Check them all out (yes, and buy some) at Jan’s Smugmug site.

Right off the start there were great puffs coming off Crown Hill all the way up to Edmonds. Those who braved going out of that great breeze on the east were rewarded late in the leg. Bill Buchan and Sachem seemed to be furthest west on the approach to the Scatchet Head Buoy. By the time the bulk of the fleet arrived at the mark, the flood was in full swing keeping helmsmen (and women!) on their toes during the rounding.

The beat home was a bit surreal. The misty rain was so thick at times land was virtually invisible. Those aft (or down below) with a chartplotter to play with could dial in, but on the rail it seemed we could have well been headed for the Arctic Circle. There were a couple big windshifts, and as long as you took advantage it was tactically a fairly straightforward leg. Perhaps the most surreal thing was the dead aircraft carrier USS Independence being eerily towed out of the Sound to her ultimate breakup, somewhere, sometime.

In the ORC class, Crossfire, Glory, Neptune’s Car and Smoke were all powered up downwind and just walked away upwind. Their elapsed times were just three hours and a bit, and it would be difficult to figure out how Crossfire could have sailed any better for the win. The J/160 Jam squeaked in on corrected time for a third behind Crossfire and Glory.

In the PHRF division, the small/slower boats had their day. John Cahill’s Gaucho was lights-out with the overall win. More Jubilee was second overall, leading the fleet of eight J/105s in the only one-design class. Here & Now was third. Elusive put in a strong performance in fourth overall and first in class, but the old IOR designs Sachem and Finale sure turned heads powering on the beat home.

In Bruce’s Brief before the race, he and his Expedition software dared predict elapsed times for several boats. Here’s how he did. Never quite satisfied, he went back to his computer and did some more number crunching to further confuse us frozen rail-sitters:

“If I take the recorded elapsed times and figure the speed around the course at 26.1 miles  which I figured at 25.5 miles and then if add the time it would take to sail  the extra .6 miles, my error for predicting elapsed time comes out pretty close. My error for Crossfire was 12.6 seconds or .1128% which would win just about every predicted log race in the universe.”

Bruce, you and Expedition should just go get a room. 

Crossfire‘s Race

Lou Bianco’s Reichel/Pugh 55 may not quite be the biggest, but it’s certainly the “baddest,” racer in town. Step onboard, and you know it takes a lot of skill to point it in the right direction and keep it from hurting itself. Guys like Fritz Lanzinger, Nigel Barron and Brad Baker lead that effort.

Brad Baker, Crossfire‘s navigator these days, offers some insight into the race. And Rick Donahue passed along the winning GPS track. Here’s Brad:

“It was an interesting race from the perspective that it was very direct.  For Crossfire the tides worked out very well.  We were able to get down to the mark just after the tide changed to the flood, but other than that we had reasonably favorable currents for most the race up and back.  The “direct” part has to do with shifts and timing of the shifts.  Going down there was a large easterly component.  We spent the majority off the time on starboard going at or very close to the mark, with maybe 15 minutes max on port. Coming back there ended up being a big shift to the west, so after maybe 10 or 15 minutes on port after rounding we tacked and did one big long starboard tack up the Sound.

Click to enlarge

You can see on the graphic what the boat speed was over the course. Pretty cool.  Wind speed was about 10 knots at the start.  The range in wind was 6 knots to 16 knots.  We saw the max wind on the run near Edmonds and the least amount of wind right at the end of the race. 

 Yes, Crossfire is a scary fast boat and the crew does a very nice job of keeping her going.  Lou Bianco and John Stanley did a nice job on the driving and Fritz deserves a lot of credit for his guru-like work.”





It was my first chance to sail with Andy and Jaimie Mack onboard their J/122 Grace, and it was a great experience. Despite our trials before the start, everyone on board kept their poise and we came away with a well earned class win. But it is the non-racing aspects of the program that are special to me.what was special to me.

Grace rounding the Scatchet Head buoy

Jaimie explained that a big part of buying Grace was that it was a great way to connect with all their Seattle area friends. They live on the Columbia River Gorge, but recognize the value of our sailing community. The second aspect is how they used the boat after the race. The dodger came back on the boat, the wet racing sails went off the boat, and they cruised the boat with their eight year old daughter to Port Madison to rendezvous with other boats. Race AND cruise, that’s cool.


Ace’s Scatchet Head track.

Fellow Laser sailor Mike Johnson was onboard the Farr 395 Ace in our class, a boat we kept a very close eye on. He was kind enough to send his track along and share it with all of us.








Hedrick’s Predictions

Hedrick’s Predictions

While CYC tends to some Scatchet Head results discrepancies, let’s take a look at how Bruce did with his weather outlook for the race. For those of us out there it was darn accurate. And check this out, through the magic of a VPP (not sure which one) and his knowledge of weather and the Sound, (assuming the elapsed times are accurate) he came up with a predicted elapsed time of 3:01 for Crossfire (their elapsed time was actually 3:06) and 4:50 (elapsed time actually 4:58 for Madrugador). Pretty good, but room for improvement……

Here are some of Jan Anderson’s photos. More coming, including a report from onboard Crossfire, when we do the full race report.




Blakely Rock Race, Wind Shuts Down after the Rock

Blakely Rock Race, Wind Shuts Down after the Rock

Saturday’s Blakely Rock Race, which kicked off CYC’s Center Sound Series, started off great but ended up with a lot of drifting and a shortened course course for the PHRFers (ORC boats managed the full course). Class winners needed two things, light air skills and persistence, with probably the greater emphasis on the latter.

As Bruce Hedrick predicted here on, conditions were OK at the start (in fact better than the models suggested) with winds dropping the remainder of the day. The possibility of snow never materialized and much of the race was sailed in bright sunshine. (If you want to receive notification of this week’s Bruce’s Brief (and future weather posts), click here.

Kelly O’Neil’s former boat reQuest, was loaded with daffodils for the Blakely Rock rounding.

As the fleet rounded the Rock, daffodils were in ample supply as photographer and oh-so-loved sailing figure Kelly O’Neil was honored 13 years after her death.

A large percentage of the boats that started, finished. Class 1 (one cruising boat) Class 2 had no finishers, but every other class had at least three finishers. Results here. The biggest anomalies were Crossfire’s utter destruction of the ORC class (size matters when it comes to rig height on Puget Sound) and the corrected-time tie between Absolutely and Hamachi in Class 8.

The boat with the longest elapsed time for the day, Al Johnson’s Quest 30 Charlotte, is worth a mention. About 15 months ago Johnson brought the boat in from Victoria, where she sailed as Koru. She replaced Johnson’s well loved Soverel 33 Pegasus with an eye toward an easier handled boat (hence safer) for he and his wife Jane. “I just retired and was 63 years old, and the Quest was a boat I could see sailing comfortably for the next 20 years.” In addition to an easier handled rig, the Quest has a more comfortable interior than the Soverel with headroom and a massive aft berth.

Al Johnson’s Quest 30 Charlotte was, like all other Quests, modfied from a twin to single-rudder configuration.

Johnson clearly loves his new boat and his retirement. And the Blakely Rock race was going well up until the Rock. “The Soverel was a light air rocket. Charlotte seems to go well in all condition.” Johnson’s been spending some time around Sail Sand Point helping initiate kids in the the ways of E Scow sailing, among other things, and is much appreciated around there.

Enjoy these photos from Jan Anderson. The rest of them can be seen and purchased here.



He’s an Animal. I mean, For Real.

He’s an Animal. I mean, For Real.

One of the impossible things to explain to non-sailors is that floating around waiting for a race to happen (that never does happen) can actually be a fine way to spend a day. Such was the case with Saturday’s Three Tree What’s the Point Race.

The point was it was a lot of fun to catch up with mates. And while the crews all cheered when CYC called it off (after valiant attempt to get a shortened course race off), my guess is for nearly everyone it was a welcome, enforced, time off from their daily lives. There weren’t even too many cell phones out.

Thank goodness some cell phones were out, because we caught some shenanigans on Double Take. Thanks to Brian Ferris and Dave Ferguson for the footage.

First, there was that seal. We’re not sure what particular kind of salmon she was smoking, but she went crazy, porpoising and clearing the water over and over again for what seemed like an hour and a half, but was probably only about 15 minutes. There was something about Elusive that kept her there most of the time, so close the crew could have easily touched her on some of her jumps. (Maybe somebody from Elusive can share the video that surely took)

Then there is Malcolm’s Jump, perhaps inspired by the seal. Nobody has embraced sailboat racing more quickly or with more enthusiasm than Malcolm MacNeil. And he’s got the fun part down better than most.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have our friend the seal visit for every race delay? Or maybe Malcolm can just swim around from boat to boat and jump of spreaders. Regardless, it was a fine day for animals.

So, the results from the first two races stand and all those rivalries will have to wait for another day before they’re settled.

Bruce’s Brief for Three Tree Point

Bruce’s Brief for Three Tree Point

It’s the last race of the Series and I could say that it’s going to be interesting. However, that is generally true every time you leave the dock to go sailing in the Spring in Puget Sound. What makes this more interesting than most days is the fact that the models have diverged instead of the usual converging the way they tend to as we get closer to the date in question. The reason for this can be seen in the Surface Forecast Charts for tonight and tomorrow. (Remember to subtract seven now to get from UTC to PDT.) As you can see, we have a weak area of high pressure to the east with an approaching front, tailing off of a weak and dissipating low pressure system centered off of southeast Alaska. That’s coming in off the Pacific with a weak high pressure system behind it.

The speed of this front has been inconsistent and generally speaking, weak frontal systems tend to slow as they get closer to the coast. As you can see, this cold front has been overrunning the warm front ahead of it creating an occluded front, very typical however when this occurs as the fronts approach the coast it makes it difficult to predict how fast the front will come onshore. Hence, the word interesting.

Tomorrow’s race will all come down to how we handle the highly variable conditions. Combined with the following tides at West Point:

0603                        Slack

0919                        .9 Ebb

1303                        Slack

1548                        .7 Flood

1907                        Slack


It will be challenging to say the least. Based upon this morning’s GRIB files we’ll probably have 3-5 knots from the SSE to start, with the wind slowly clocking around to SSW and 4-8 knots at 1330 before it starts to back and slowly build from the SSE and maybe getting up to 8-10 knots.

West Point wind vs pressure plot
West Point wind vs pressure plot

For the big boats that will mean finishing at 1500-1600 hrs, in other words right at max flood.

So in these variable conditions and a lot of sailing in anti-water it will be important to remember that the shortest possible course will be down the East side of the Sound. Keep a hand bearing compass handy to track how any defectors to the West might be doing. There will be a fair amount of current at West Point and there will tend to be less wind in Elliott Bay so holding port tack out from West Point will get you into less tide and should keep you in more breeze. It’s usually picking your way across Elliott Bay to Alki that can create both major gains and losses. From Alki south to TTP it will be a matter of finding the best breeze and trying to see if there’s a pattern to the oscillations.

The run home from TTP could be very interesting as one set of GRIBs has the wind around to 230-240⁰M at 6-8 knots which could mean Code O’s for the fast boats. The NAM GRIBS have the wind staying between 185⁰ and 200⁰M. Either way, trimmers and drivers are going to have to be working very hard. Since we’ll be fighting the flood all the way north, the temptation will be to stay east out of the flood while still sailing the polars and keeping the boat at targets. Ideally, you’d look for shifts to gybe back to the east to get out of the flood if you find yourself sailing in anti-water however if there has been any clearing during the day in the afternoon this will cause the wind to lift off the east shore so it may get light if you get in too close. Eyes out of the boat!

Click on any image to enlarge:

So in the morning get every extra ounce of non-essential gear off the boat, drain the water tanks and take only enough fuel to get safely home from TTP. It’s not an overnight race so don’t let the crew bring huge seabags with a change of clothes for every watch change and the post race party. Bring on board only what you are wearing and going to eat. Carefully log the pressure from your WX-VHF so you can track how fast the front is coming ashore. Before you leave the house check the Washington State Ferry Weather, the NDBC West Point(WPOW1) Plot of wind and pressure, and the NWS radar at Langley Hill to see if the front is showing up on the Doppler. During the race track the pressure changes and wind velocities at the stations north and west of West Point as the south-southeasterly will move south and build from that direction.

Remember also that it can get a little shallow at TTP so resist the temptation to cut it too close. If there was ever a place to make sure the crew is all on the same page, thinking three maneuvers ahead, and the driver and tactician are anticipating mark rounding situations, it’s at the rounding mark “C” at TTP. Don’t hesitate to talk it through, the foredeck will greatly appreciate a plan that you can stick to.

Have a great time and a safe race.

Center Sound Finale Predictions

Center Sound Finale Predictions

We’ll know more tomorrow when Bruce Hedrick clues us in to Saturday’s weather/tactical scenario, but as of right now it’s looking light for Three Tree Point, the final race of CYC’s Center Sound Series. Check back tomorrow late afternoon or evening, or sign up for the email list in the sidebar to get notified of all the posts via email.

With that in mind, who’s going to win? Bloggers get to toss out their prognostications as they’re worth exactly the amount as the paper they’re printed on, so that’s what I’m doing. Here goes:

IRC: John Buchan has the TP 52 Glory dialed in, and we can expect that to continue. Look for 55′ Crossfire to possibly get it rolling, particularly if the wind is stronger just a leeeetle bit higher off the water than the TP’s squaretops. Steve Travis’ Smoke crew is figuring it out, and their time will come. And watch out for Double Take. We’re hungry.

Multi: A wild guess that Freda Mae, the only entry, will win. Where are the multis?

PHRF Class 7: Terremoto generally has her way with this rating band no matter the wind conditions. Charlie Macaulay has Absolutely going fast, but it’s a tall order to keep up with all that asymmetrical sail area on Terremoto downwind in the light stuff. Wouldn’t it be great to see the super skinny Bob Perry designed Francis Lee ghost out ahead? They had a rough time of it with a new chute in Scatchet Head. Carl and Carol Buchan’s Madrona was out for the last race, and if out they are always a threat.

Class 6: Sachem, Sachem, Sachem. I just loved it the last couple Scatchet Heads when Bill Buchan opted for winging out his jib instead of death rolling all the way to Whidbey Island, and doing just fine, thank you very much. You won’t catch me betting against Bill Buchan. Denny Vaughn’s Bravo Zulu is, as always, strong and can be expected to stay in the money. The J109s Tantivy and Shada should both be back in contentions after their DNFs for Scatchet. If you haven’t read the story of Tantivy‘s man overboard recovery, it’s here.

Class 5: You can’t get a lot different from the first two boats in this class, the Wauquiez C40S Different Drummer and the Sierra 26 Dos. DD is a strong, modern cruiser racer built to cross oceans and cruise in comfort after the race is over. The Sierra? Well, not so much. Dos has proven fast in all conditions and hasn’t capsized in a while, so look for her to excel.

Class 4: That J/105 class is solid and it’s winner take all between More Jubilee and Last Tango for Three Tree Point. Flip a coin. And try not to disrupt things if you see them match racing.

Back in 2014 the J/105s jockeyed for position at the start of another not-so-windy Three Tree Point Race. Jan Anderson Photo.
Back in 2014 the J/105s jockeyed for position at the start of another not-so-windy Three Tree Point Race. Jan Anderson Photo.

Class 3: Here and Now looked awesome in Scatchet Head, but is tied with John Cahill’s Gaucho for the series. Three Tree will be another chapter in their long rivalry. This is a very interesting and competitive class and, despite the differences in boats, they all have similar performance parameters. Muffin and Kiwi Express will keep the front runners honest. I’m thinking it’s Gaucho‘s year.

Class 2: Here’s another class where three disparate boats are nearly tied for points. Cherokee is leading, followed by the J/80 Jolly Green and Ken Chin’s Kowloon. I’m guessing the J/80 might have the advantage if conditions get really sticky.

Class 1 : The Tbird Selchie has a 2nd and 1st in the series, but Nate Creitz’ Olson 35 Three Ring Circus is right there, and with it’s masthead rig could well have an advantage on Saturday if winds are as light as predicted.

Casual Class: Five boats were entered in this class, but so far only four have sailed and only Kite has finished both races. This is the class in which the brothers Burcar and I would enter the C&C 36 Slipstream (with our crew of 1 thru 9 year olds and a solid three bladed prop), so I’m keeping an eye on it. That’s the class where the boat having the most fun wins, right? That could go either with a boatload of kids.

Again, check out Bruce’s forecast tomorrow. Have a great race. If you have your own predictions, share them in the comments area below.




Another Scatchet Head Scorcher

Another Scatchet Head Scorcher

Got Seamanship?

There’s nothing like a man overboard incident in a racing situation to see who’s got seamanship and who doesn’t.

Yep, if you haven’t heard, there was at least one overboard incident in last Saturday’s Scatchet Head Race. It was handled so well there really was no reason to hear about it. Unless you want to learn something from it.58919

It all started when Gina Layton was deposited in the drink during a tack. Skipper Stuart Burnell and the Tantivy crew handled Gina’s swimming sojourn with consummate skill, getting her back onboard within a minute and a half and then getting themselves out of a grounding as swimmer and boat had drifted onto the shallow shelf off Edmonds before getting stuck there.

Nope, no issues there. Another boat even stood by just in case.

Burnell has written up the rescue and lessons learned.

The issue and some questions apply to everyone else who was out there. How many of us would react as well? How many of us have even deployed a Lifesling in rehearsal? (a fair number, I’m sure, but not nearly all.)

And how many of us take this as a sign that we need to practice, prepare and talk about man overboard and other situations more often? Seamanship, in my view, is mostly about preparing the crew for such a situation.

The first step in preparation may be listening to Neptune’s warnings. I’m thinking Gina’s plunge was one of those.

The Race

There was a race, and what a race it was. The run to Scatchet Head was fast, and the mid 20-kt gusts rewarded the planing hulls and punished heavier boats that stayed in displacement mode too much of the time. And made for some great Jan Anderson photos.

The beat back was very puffy, and sharp driving and main trim in the puffs could make a big difference one way or another.

There were a few surprises, the first being that the wind died, not built as we got further north. Another surprise was a slight right hand shift after rounding the mark that helped some of the boats coming from behind.

The stories will be trickling out over the next couple of weeks, and I plan on collecting a few then inciting a few rivalries before Three Tree Point.

In the meantime, there were a few great performances that deserve mention.

On Double Take we had to take a couple transoms to get back to the left side of the course. Jan Anderson photos.
On Double Take we had to take a couple transoms to get back to the left side of the course. Jan Anderson photos.

After I reminded Charlie and his great Absolutely great crew one too many times about last year’s dismasting, they sailed an amazing race (on the former Voodoo Child) and handily won the very tough class 7. Congrats Charlie! Here and Now must have had things rolling along downwind and certainly looked good coming back to weather. On Double Take it took us a frightfully long time to catch up to her again. And don’t you just love it when a Thunderbird (Selchie) wins her class in those conditions?

Those two TP 52s, Glory and Smoke, are ridiculously fast both downwind and upwind in those conditions. Crossfire, the Reichel/Pugh 55 hit 26 knots. We may hear more from Crossfire‘s navigator Bruce Hedrick on that score if we can pry him away from the navigation hardware and software he’s working on for Vic-Maui.

Results here. Jan Anderson’s photos here.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back before Three Tree Point.





Bruce’s Brief: Scatchet Head Race

Bruce’s Brief: Scatchet Head Race

I think we will agree that we’ve had enough wind this week, but going north to Scatchet Head we’d really like to have enough to get all the way around the course.

Well, even though we are between fronts again, it definitely looks like we will have breeze. In a nutshell, the breeze will be stronger in the morning (15-20 knots)and building as you sail north (20 to 25+knots). On the beat on the way back the breeze should ease a little and then start build again. See the 1500 hour MM5 chart with 30 knots possible in the Richmond Beach –Pt Wells area.

West Point Wind Plot
West Point Wind Plot

There is another fairly strong system approaching the coast however it won’t get here until Sunday late afternoon or early evening. Look for a southeasterly in the starting area becoming a building due southerly as you work your way north to the mark. So be prepared before you leave the dock in the morning with the crew all in pfd’s, safety harnesses, and tethers, with the jacklines rigged and in place.

Next think about which headsail you’ll want to use for the beat back from Scatchet Head because that’s the headsail you’ll want to use in the starting area for this downwind start. Next, anticipate where you’ll want to do your final gybe before the mark in the building breeze.

Currentrs Scatchet HeadThe tide will be at near max ebb in the starting area so don’t get caught below the line trying to beat back up with a tide trying to push you to north and your entire fleet reaching over the top of you giving you a massive dose of dirty air.

You will probably hold the starboard gybe off the line until about halfway to the Richmond oil docks where the breeze will start to clock and lift you. That’s when to gybe to port and work your way back to the center of the Sound. Between the oil docks and the Edmonds Ferry Dock you’ll probably want to gybe back to starboard. You’ll hold starboard until you can gybe back to a layline that is east of the Scatchet Head mark. Why? Because the ebb tide will be pushing you towards the mark to pushing you to west and past the mark. The ebb will probably be flowing at 1 to 1.5 knots flowing due west as you approach the mark.



Another possibility is that if it is really cranking as you sail north and you don’t feel particularly comfortable about gybing, sail past that layline and then drop the kite behind the headsail, get everything under control and then do the gybe. This way you’ll have plenty of time to get your fast settings for the beat before you get to the mark.

You’ll probably round and come up on to a port tack. Only hold this for about 100 yards at the most before you tack back to starboard and get to the Edmonds shore. The ebb is going to last until around 1400 hours and maybe longer as there will be plenty of water coming down the Snohomish River and out Possession Sound. Since we’ll all have a couple of hours of ebb to fight after rounding you may want to think twice about going to the west as that would mean having to cross the ebb twice to get to the finish. Going to the east has two advantages. The first being that after you get off the Possession Bar and you can start to see north into Possession Sound you’ll begin to get the advantage of the ebb flowing south out of Possession. The water will also get flatter and there will be a very localized south-southeasterly along that beach which will allow you to hold port tack as you sail roughly parallel to shore north of the Edmonds Ferry Dock. The breeze may also lighten as you get in closer to the beach. Watch your COG and SOG on port, and when you get back out into anti-water, tack back to starboard and go back into the beach.


As you beat past the Ferry dock, the breeze will once again stay out of the due south and you’ll be in the ebb which will begin to ease around 1500 hours. it will be about .3 knot less on the east shore than if you were fighting it on the west shore of the Sound. Remember also that from Edmonds south to Point Wells there is a very shallow area that goes out quite a ways so watch the sounder. The same as you go from Point Wells to Richmond Beach. South of there it will be a matter of finding lanes of clear air, working the beach and not spending too much time out in the ebb.

As you come up the beach and get closer to the finish off of Meadow Point don’t go so far in that you overstand the finish. It’s OK to tack to port to come off the beach with some in the bank because the ebb and the flow out of the Ship Canal will push you below the layline and you probably don’t want to have to tack back to starboard to get to the finish.

Be safe and have a great race.

(Feature photo – courtesy Jan Anderson – of Absolutely coming back to Seattle with a broken mast. The new Absolutely is looking good and chances are Charlie Macaulay and company will very careful with their gybes this year!)