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.