Round the County, Part 2, with Beef Stew

Round the County, Part 2, with Beef Stew

After our initial Round the County coverage, we were called out by Vin Colgin in the comments section: “More small boat results. Local super yacht results are interesting, but not relatable. I want to see more < 30′ news to increase participation.”

Hey, Vin, when you’re right, you’re right. I didn’t get a <30′ skipper or crew to report here, but your comment did inspire a tale from another classic that many could relate to. For the <30′ tale, I suggest you go to Ben Braden’s story of the race.

Alert reader Jarred Swalwell chimed in with his tale of crewing with Megan Kogut on the RTC on the Carter 37 Arrow: “Yes, it’s tempting to wax poetic about big, pretty expensive boats. Did anyone notice the ’73 IOR one tonner out there rocking the BBQ, radar tower + solar panels and 30 year old dacron? For a period, I had a lovely time with one elbow casually hooked around a shroud while eating hot beef stew and admiring a Moore 24 off our starboard bow plane a little on the downwind run on day 2. This just before I went back to admiring my beef stew. We finished near to the top third in both class and fleet. We had cushions to sit on, a diesel heater, substantially Moore than a pot to piss in, and of course cold beer. I did enjoy watching the sporty boats, they are pretty. At times, I even enjoyed passing the sporty boats. But seriously, it would be nice to see a few more comfortable plain white sloops out there having a good time, RTC is a terrific event. BTW, props to the Cal 34!!”

(It’s worth noting that Ben Braden ate a hot lunch on his own Moore 24 Moore Uff Da in the same race from his well-known barbecue while finishing eighth overall)

But more than that, Jarred’s and three other boats utilized raceQs to track the race, and compare notes afterward. racQs is new to me, and pretty interesting. I haven’t figured out how to embed the video but if you follow the links below you’ll see the tracks play out for the entire race. The screenshots are from raceQs. This would definitely be fun to set up with your favorite enemies on the race course to have something to talk about afterward.

Megan and I were on Arrow, an IOR boat.  We use raceQs to track and analyze what happened, a few other boats do as well so it’s a pretty interesting watch.  

The “fleet” going around Patos.
The screen as it looks in the helmsman’s view.

Saturday is here.  You can see the shut down at the end and where a few boats (Bravo Zulu and Lodos) figured out the counter current on the other side of Battle Rock which paid off pretty big for them.

Sunday we stayed out and walked away from the short tackers in faster boats.  On the downwind we had to fly a smaller storm kite as our big kite had a tear.  But staying to the east on the course kept us away from a hole that a number of other boats got stuck into on the west.

–Jarred Salwell



There are a lot of us who can look around just about any harbor an identify “former” raceboats that still have a lot of fun and a few wins still in them.


Take Arrow. In 1973 Dick Carter was at the top of of the design game, with the help of none other than the Northwest’s own Bob Perry who was working for Carter at the time. This pinched-end, wide-beamed boat was the bomb, and still sails very well, even with Dacron. The design derived from the world One Ton champion Ydra. The faults with IOR boats of that era are well known, but they’re voluminous and usually fitted with decent galleys, heads and berths. They’re not going to keep up with a modern well-designed racer-cruiser, and they’re never going to plane (at least you don’t want to be on them if they do), but they definitely have style and sail well.

There are of course, plenty of other non-IOR boats that can be talked about (and raced) as well. So while it’s often easier to write about the expensive end of the fleet, get us the tales and pictures and we’ll certainly tell the stories from the heart of the fleet too.

Round the County Wrap, Glory and Wicked Wahine with the Wins

Round the County Wrap, Glory and Wicked Wahine with the Wins

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.

Crossfire’s Day 2 Track

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

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.

RTC Photo Finish Vids and Bruce’s Weather Brief for Saturday Night thru Monday and “Home Delivery”

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.

Crossfire’s 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

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

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.

Tidal Currents

Peapod Rocks

0538      Slack

0912      Max Flood            2.14 knts

1255      Slack

1515      Max Ebb                 1.66 knts

1950      Slack

Turn Point

1252      Slack

1537      Max Ebb                 1.38 knts

2011      Slack

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

Haro Strait

0812      Slack

1036      Max Flood            1.61 knts

1315      Slack

1656      Max Ebb                 1.61 knts

2242      Slack

Rosario Strait

0900      Max Flood            1.5 knts

1300      Slack

1630      Max Ebb                 1.94 knts

2048      Slack

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


Bruce’s Round the County Delivery Brief

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

1118      Slack

1406      Max Ebb                 1.57 knts

1648      Slack

1918      Max Flood            1.35 knts

Tides at Rosario Straits

0430      Slack

0712      Max Flood            2.06 knts

1112      Slack

1430      Max Ebb                 1.44 knts

1824      Slack

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.

I’ll have more on Friday.

RTC Youth Sailing Challenge – Final Leg Starts Now!

RTC Youth Sailing Challenge – Final Leg Starts Now!

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.

Here’s the link to the program. Donate!

Kids LOVE Lasers

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.

Wind, No Wind. Round the County 2016

Wind, No Wind. Round the County 2016

I told Round the County newby Paula that this race could either blow dogs off chains or be a completely soul-sucking calm. RTC came through with both, though it held back on the biting cold that sometimes makes things challenging for those who have live nerves in their extremities. And, as usual, last weekend’s RTC  proved to be a wildly entertaining race and nothing less than a great reason to live and sail in the Pacific Northwest.

Bruce Hedrick’s forecast was remarkably accurate. It blew dogs off chains for the start and the beat south through Rosario Strait. The fast early starters and the big boats got to enjoy a big air reach for some time after turning right at Davidson Rock, popping kites as the wind started to drop. But drop it did, and a calm descended on the fleet. Onboard the J/133 Tango we ended up around the accursed Lime Kiln Lighthouse when the currrent decided to send us back two boatlengths for every boatlength gained. White Cloud and Madrona held a little further off the point and managed to overcome the current.

Check out all of Jan’s photos here.


A couple of other class winners I kept an eye on were Alex Simanis’ Evelyn 32 Poke and Destroy and Jimmy and Robin Roser’s Cal 39 Chinook. Jimmy Roser knows the Islands about as well as anyone. He and Robin own and operate Baja Boat Works, which installs and maintains mooring buoys, among other things, all around the San Juans. “We were out in front with Alex (Simanis). Then our number 1 came out of the track and flew behind us. It was a mess.” They managed to cross the halfway finish line in first, but weren’t able to finish the full course. Fortunately for them nobody in their class finished the full course that first day.

And Poke and Destroy? Simanis’ RTC actually started this summer. When he pulled P&D to paint the rudder, he happened to wiggle the keel. It wobbled, and further inspection revealed the sump lamination was failing. CSR Marine did its magic with the repair. There was some delaminating balsa core in the decks that had to be dealt with as well. “The boat’s a LOT stiffer now,” Simanis says, which came in handy on that hard beat. With a code zero (Simanis operates Ballard Sails , after all) P&G was launched enough to finish with only a handful of boats, and really big/fast ones at that, ahead, and won the day Division 3 easily.

Day two brought the seemingly inevitable light air spinnaker start off Roche Harbor. As the fleet compressed along Stuart Island’s shore, it became an epic battle as to who could manage the traffic jam the best, with big gains usually followed by big losses. The smart money (including Chinook) stayed offshore from the mix and came clear of Turn Point cleanly. On Tango we played the traffic game most of the time, but our best move was bailing out just before Turn Point and taking transoms to get away from the mess.

P&G played the point well, but then took an ill advised tack into the the shore after Turn Point. “Pretty much the whole fleet passed us,” Simanis said. “We were third or fourth from last.”

As predicted, after the fleet got around Patos Island to head south it enjoyed another hard beat. Here the boats with an extra gear for upwind work thrived. Things got squirrely near the finish at Deer Point on Orcas Island, especially for the TP 52 finish. Staying away from the wind holes at the finish was key.

Chinook won her class, as did P&G. Valkyrie beat the three other TP5s to take the win in ORC. Onboard Tango we had a very satisfying second day, having ground down the competition on the breezy beat and losing only to Terremoto by four seconds. Terremoto managed to win the class ahead of the Melges 32 Mischief and White Cloud, which had two excellent performances. Results here.

Round the County rocked. You’ll want to ready when registration opens for 2017. The spots fill up quickly, and with good reason.


Ed. Note: An earlier version had Jason Rhodes aboard Mischief, when in fact he was on Valkyrie. Many apologies and many thanks to Joe Cline and Bruce Hedrick for straightening me out.

Bruce’s Brief November 5-6 including Round the County!

Bruce’s Brief November 5-6 including Round the County!

No question, fall is here and it’s time for one of the most challenging and consequently one of the most popular races in the Pacific Northwest, Round The County. It’s not easy to get there and it won’t be easy to get home from if your homeport is somewhere other than Anacortes. Details.

It may be gorgeous today but after having had the wettest October in history, 9.8 inches of rain compared to a normal 3.25 inches, we can probably expect more of the same for November, our traditionally wettest month. So if you liked October, you’re going to love this Saturday!

Longboard in last year's Round the County. Jan Anderson Photo.
Longboard in last year’s Round the County. Jan Anderson Photo.

As you can see from today’s surface chart and the Saturday AM chart we have a fairly active front headed towards us on Saturday. Start logging your barometer readings when you get to the boat today. The problem will be that after the start (0830±) when the front passes and the barometer starts up, the breeze will drop the closer you get to the finish on the west side of San Juan Island. All of this will be compounded by the tidal currents, so let’s start with a known and then we’ll get the dartboard out.

Peapod Rocks


0426      Slack

0824      Flood                       2.14 knots

1149      Slack

1403      Ebb                            1.03 knots


0414      Slack

0806      Flood                       2.01 knots

1131      Slack

1409      Ebb                            1.07 knots

2351      Ebb                            1.64 knots


Kellett Bluff (Haro Sraits)


0343      Slack

0708      Flood                       2.01 knots

1054      Slack

1350      Ebb                            1.39 knots

1813      Slack


0331      Slack

0702      Flood                       1.88 knots

1042      Slack

1344      Ebb                            1.14 knots

1909      Slack

*And yes, I know that with the tides in the Pacific Northwest it’s supposed to be an hour later just remember that we change over to Pacific Standard Time at 0200 hrs Sunday morning.

So right now it looks like breeze for the start, with about 2 knots of tide right on the nose. You’ll want a safe starboard tack start trying to leave yourself a opening so you can tack to port and get headed to some tidal relief along the Blakely Island shore. You’ll short tack your way south watching your COG and SOG. After you’ve hit the anti-water don’t spend a lot of time waiting to tack back to port to get back to the beach. This will all be very interesting because of the reverse start. You’ll have to be constantly thinking two to four tacks ahead so you can find your clear air lanes to work your way south to Davidson Rock. Also, if you’re starting with a #1, think about having it in the port groove so if you have to change down you’ll hoist the #3 on starboard tack and then tack change back to port.

Once you’re at Davidson Rock it will be time to crack off and head towards the halfway mark at Salmon Bank where you must call in your time. So before the start have your barber hauler line rigged for port tack so you won’t have to have too many people off the rail when you decide to reach off. The sprit boats will be able to set sooner than the S-sail boats so you will need to know when you can set. After the mark at Salmon Bank the breeze will begin to back off and you’ll start seeing tide against you if you are too far off the beach. This will be another case where it will be super important to have your head out of the boat and use the boats around you to help guide you up to the finish. The problem here is that there is a back eddy that runs north up the beach from Salmon Bank almost all the way to the Lime Kiln light so you’ll want to ride that as long as you can as the breeze starts to drop and the ebb begins to build against you offshore. There will also be less wind the closer you get to San Juan Island so you’ll be working hard to find that happy medium between less wind and positive water.

As you approach the finish in light air be sure to have your #1 tee’d up and ready to hoist as the breeze can get very shifty in close to the finish. Just remember last year’s start on Sunday. Try to be finished before about 1400hrs on Saturday.

Sunday looks like a pretty nice day for a race as you’ll transition from the post frontal southwesterly in the start to a the pre-frontal southeasterly for the beat from Patos to the finish. Expect the breeze to build from the southeast from about 1400 hours on and make sure your navigator knows which buoys and rocks you have to leave to starboard.

The start will be downwind which will make finding clear air a challenge, that’s the bad news. The good news is that you’ll have the tide with you, just don’t sail too many extra miles to get outside into the stronger tide. As you get to Turn Point don’t cut it too close as there is a distinct light spot in the lee of the Island immediately after the Point, that runs almost the entire length of Stuart Island.. If you get into the light air, it can be a painful gybe to get back out into the breeze. Again, knowing the compass course to Alden Point and sticking to it will be a help. Some boats will tend to hold to the south of the rhumb line, you’re better off to sail the shortest possible course.

After Patos you’ll probably have the tide with you for the beat to Lawrence Point on Orcas Island. It will be long port tacks and short starboard tacks as the water will be smoother closer to the islands. Make sure you have your barber hauler set-up for port tack when you get to Lawrence Point for the reach to the finish. There will be better tide outside of the Peapod Rocks however it’s a shorter distance to sail between Orcas and the Peapods to the finish. If the prefrontal breeze isn’t fully developed there can also be less wind in there.

Then there’s the trip home after the Race. If you’re down from Vancouver, no problem. As long as you’re ready to sail in 25-30 knots of southeasterly. If you have to travel south on Sunday night, the east end of the Straits of JdF will be rough. If you can travel under the Rainbow Bridge in La Conner, go to La Conner, spend Sunday night and then leave at first light on Monday. The breeze will stay out of the southeast at 10-15 for most of Monday and Tuesday before it gets light, less than 10 knots, for late Tuesday, through Wednesday and into Thursday. Thursday afternoon the next front be approaching.

Have a great race and be safe.


Ed. Note: Once again we’re indebted to Bruce Hedrick for this info. And he isn’t even sailing this year! I’ll write up an account of the race early next week from my view aboard Brian Duchin’s and Kelsey Sheldon’s J/133 Tango.