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.
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.
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.
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.
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.