Bill Stange and the “Wetsnail 32”

Hula
This old brochure shot dates the Columbia back to cross-cut chutes and square-topped staysails.

We’ve got some really good sailors in the Northwest. Bill Stange stands out to me because he can take an unlikely boat and do great things without a boatload of pros or a boatload of Kevlar doilies. Over the last few years his Columbia 26 Tuesday has cleaned up on many a race, leaving more than a few heads shaking. “Who still races a Columbia 26?” one might ask. There might be some others, but Bill Stange is the only one I can find.

If you think a Columbia 26 is an unlikely choice, consider Stange’s Westsail 32. The Westsail 32 traces its origins to a Colin Archer type pilot boat as adapted by William Aitkin with deck modifications by Bill Crealock. At 20,000 lbs. the Westsail is a lot more than big-boned, she’s “massive.” But Stange has re-taught many of us an important lesson: Yep, it may be hard to get heavy displacement moving, but it’s also hard to stop it. Oh yeah, and waterline matters.

There’s another important lesson here. One can race just about anything. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Bill was kind enough to write about his recent Edmonds YC Foul Weather Bluff win. Here’s Bill:

     So you want to find out what it was like racing the Westsail 32?

     18 miles of fun was had, that’s for sure. The race started with a dead run from Edmonds to The Scatchet Head buoy. Interestingly, there was no “short course” for the slower rated boats to sail, as the race committee sent everybody on the same course. We expected that we would be passed soon after the start by the much faster boats starting after us. We started our 20,000 pound 32-footer in the second start. Under spinnaker, we quickly got past the first starters who were not flying spinnakers, and we were leading the fleet (first surprise of the day!) None of the boats starting after us seemed to be getting much closer on the run, so we rounded the Scatchet Head buoy in first place, (second surprise of the day!) followed closely by the always well sailed Bingo. OK enough of this Westsail leading the fleet stuff, right? Well, our third surprise of the day was that we actually stretched our lead on the second leg to Pilot Point, and had a fairly comfortable lead. Leading the fleet on the way back to Edmonds, we were finally passed by Dragonfly and then the TP 52s. They were fun to watch as they blasted by, but we were now doing our own healthy 6.5 knots right towards the finish line! We received the shot gun blast and later the bullet glass trophy for first to finish in class. We also corrected out to win our class by about two minutes over Gay Morris’ fast Shark Fayaway.  The final surprise of the day was when they announced that the first place overall winner was our beloved “Wetsnail” 32 Hula!!!

     So… was it the rating? (ed. note 239) or the different wind conditions for different starts?  …or can a Westsail really sail?  All I can tell you is that it was really fun to be next to some sailboat skippers as they looked down their noses at our lowly Westsail when they slowly realized they couldn’t keep up.   

     Ratings aside, there were 65 total boats in the race, and 30 of them lost to a Westsail 32 on elapsed time. Ouch!

     -Bill and Darlene Stange

 Westsail 32 HULA

PS we still own Tuesday the Columbia 26 and keep her on Lake Union.

Bruce’s Briefs 6, 7, & 8 Oct. Foulweather Bluff Race out of Edmonds

Bruce’s Briefs 6, 7, & 8 Oct. Foulweather Bluff Race out of Edmonds

Our very interesting year of weather continues after a spectacularly beautiful week of true Indian Summer conditions. As we know, it simply isn’t going to last however there is really nothing major league bad in the offing. That, however, is the bad news.

As you can see from the charts, we have a cold front that is rapidly approaching the Pacific Northwest and will blow through the area tonight. The baro is dropping and we are already seeing rain off the north coast on the Doppler. The other feature to note is the incredibly strong high-pressure system (1040MB) off the coast. This will drive a strong onshore flow down the Straits after the cold front passes. Unfortunately, this will create a convergence zone over the Race Course area for tomorrow. As is typical for a post-frontal scenario, the isobars will ease over the Upper Sound and lower part of Admiralty Inlet and while it may be cranking in the Straits, 25-30 knots from the West, the westerly won’t get much past the Marrowstone Light. While there will be enough southerly in the Race area to get the race started, it will tend to get lighter from noon on. The key to this race will be to finish early.

Running the polars for Crossfire, they should finish just after 1300 hours in a dying south-southeasterly followed closely by the TP-52’s. The rest of fleet may struggle a bit as the breeze will continue to drop. Other projected times are:

Beneteau First 40.7        1609

J-105                                          1648

Farr 1020                                1719

 

The tides will actually be a help. For Admiralty Inlet off Bush Point.

0712                                          Slack

1018      Max Ebb                 2.74 knots

1342                                          Slack

1612      Max Flood            1.75 knots

1842                                          Slack

 

This will be another race that will drive tacticians and navigators crazy as they struggle to keep their vessels in the best wind. The key here will be to keep your head out of the boat and watch which way the smart people are going. For the most part, on the way up to Scatchet Head, simply aim at the mark and sail your polars.

From Scatchet Head to Foulweather Bluff, you will want to stay in the ebb tide and stay out of Skunk Bay where it can get light in a southerly. With any kind of luck, you’ll get around FWB near slack water. Remember that the flood starts first coming down the west side of the Sound and around Point No Point, so watch your COG and SOG. Again, if you’re beating after the mark, stay out of Skunk Bay, there’s a reason why it’s called that….

From Pt No Pt to the finish, have your barber-haulers and light air sheets rigged and ready and aim for the finish. Given a choice between going due east or down the Sound on the west side, stay to the west. Just don’t overstand the finish and keep yourself between your competition and the finish line.

Remember, all of this presumes a long course. The committee has two other options if it looks like it’s going to be really light.

The rest of the weekend really looks OK with the only really breezy conditions being in the Straits. While we’ll tend to have a southerly over the Sound on Saturday, this will shift to a northerly on Sunday. In other words, Stay in Edmonds, enjoy the post-race activities and the sail home on Sunday.

Take a peek also at the surface chart for 10 October. If you were impressed with the 1040MB High, you’ll love the 1043MB monster that’s projected. It also shows another weak cold front coming over us. None of these will produce much rain however it will be getting cooler in the evenings.

Be Safe and enjoy the weekend.

 

Foul Weather Bluff

Foul Weather Bluff

Saturday’s Foul Weather Bluff Race seemed  to start with whimper but end with a bang. We don’t have a report from Edmonds YC, and I was unable to attend, but we do have photos from Jan Anderson and a video from Boomer Depp who was sailing on the Davidson 34 Karma.

Jan’s Photos.

Yes, you need to visit her site to see the rest and, yes, BUY some.

Boomer’s Video