Grand Prix Wraps up the Season with a Whisper

Grand Prix Wraps up the Season with a Whisper
Crossfire’s Race 1 Track

As Bruce Hedrick predicted, the best (and nearly only) Grand Prix races were on Friday. The Seattle Yacht Club race committee got off two good races, but didn’t find enough wind for racing Saturday and only one light affair on Sunday.

Crossfire’s Race 2 Track

That said, the racers enjoyed a dock postponement which was a chance for nap or catching up with old friends and foes. Some sailors just went around and enjoyed the fall sunshine while others enjoyed it on the water.

In the final ORC results, Glory corrected on Crossfire by a bit over a minute in the final race to get the victory. In the one design and PHRF classesMoose Unknown bested the usual suspects in the J/105 class and the Uno added another walkaway class win in Class 4.

Crossfire’s Race 3 Track

The J/80s finished with a three-way tie for first, which was broken in Jolly Green‘s favor. And Charlie Macaulay won the “big” PHRF class 2 with Absolutely. More on that in a minute.

Jarred Swalwell of the Aphrodite 101 Elixir wasn’t sure what to expect in Class 4 before the series began. As he explained it beforehand, “The SYC Grand Prix Class 4 is a real curiosity. Lined up by size, each boat is about half the displacement of the next including: a modern cruiser racer, the family man’s meter boat circa 1978, the very first ultralight, a sport boat, and a dinghy which I think weighs in at 948 lbs. Yikes.” Uno certainly answered those expectations, as she usually does. She won Sunday’s race by 42 minutes. That all said, Swalwell had a great time throughout the weekend, even when the race was cancelled:

Well, unfortunately Bruce was nearly spot on with the forecast this weekend. Friday turned out to be a bit more wind than predicted I think, maybe closer to the high end of 10 knots. We had two great races and given what happened with the rest of the weekend maybe should have gotten off a third. Saturday was a series of postponements with the RC making the calls from the CYC dock (or bar?). The wind picked up just a tiny bit after noon so we shoved off the dock to enjoy a spectacular day on the water, particularly for the end of October. We coasted out to the middle of the sound, then up past Meadow Point, and as the evening breeze filled in we sailed Elixir back into her guest slip at around 5:30. There were a few boats out there with us, but it seemed that the bulk of the GP participants missed out on an excellent, if a bit relaxing, day on the water despite there being no races. Sunday was definitely a trying day on the water with several tests of patience. After floating in the fog for a bit on postponement, the northerly seemed to start to fill and the RC called a distance race, which for most of us was up to Meadow Point then down around Blakely Rock and back. Classes 1-3 started on a fairly decent breeze that slowly eased as the rest of us started. If there were a few more tenths of a knot of current I don’t know that we would have made the Meadow Point Buoy. After that it felt like we were chasing the edges of puffs all the way down and back up until it completely shut down for a spell in front of a fog bank sitting just to the North of Shilshole.  Boats that had made it to the eastern shore early seemed to ride a shore breeze back up and did quite well… we were not among them. We got the gun as the last across (several other boats retired), but as consolation received compliments from the RC for the show we put on with spinnaker against the Olympics and a beautiful late fall PNW sunset. BTW, did the delivery back home to Edmonds this morning in perfect 7-12 knots of northerly breeze… of course.

Jarred’s wife and Elixir’s co-owner Megan Kogut echoed the positive vibes from the weekend. “I thought the Grand Prix weekend was great.” She also added that she wished the Race Committee would have given it a try later in the day on Saturday or at least come when there was enough wind to be play around in. She said “We got to the CYC clubhouse at sunset and no one who was racing that day was still there. I think the RC could have done more to create a sense of enjoyment of the day and community rather than encourage people to go to the bar at 2 pm. It was fun on Sunday in the fog with all of the boats waiting for the wind to kick up, and I would have liked more of that on Saturday.”

(Those of us who bolt home at the moment we can should maybe take note!)

Jarred and Kogut ended up with one notable feather in their caps, a third place, winning the tie-breaker with Vela Volta.

And then there was Charlie Macaulay and the smooth running Absolutely. Since acquiring the Farr 39, Macaulay has been racing a lot, and winning nearly as much. His happy crew notched another victory, this time over Ace and Wicked Wahine, which were only a point apart in second and third. Here’s Charlie:

It was a great weekend and we sailed pretty well (except for a few light air frustration calls by me on Sunday that, luckily, didn’t hurt us too bad).

I certainly have no great insight on what happened on the water. All I can do is restate that obvious that Friday afternoon was one of the great sailing days of the year.  Sun, breeze, relatively warm, and great competition.  What more could anyone ask for?

The great work the folks at SYC do to put this regatta together should be emphasized. The regatta chair, Regan Edwards, did a fabulous job putting everything together – even cooking pizzas at CYC on Saturday.  SYC really does this one right – and all those skippers and crew who didn’t come out missed a fabulous event! Hopefully, they’ll reconsider next year and enter the regatta and make it even better.

And if I hear anyone complain again about the high entry fee, I’m gonna lose it. There’s no better way to thank your crew for a great season of sailing than by sailing in this regatta and which also buys them all dinner and beer for two nights!

Now there’s a skipper who’s thinking about his crew! Congratulations to Charlie, Jarred and Megan, SYC and everyone who raced on Puget Sound through the summer and fall seasons.

Glory 

And to those of you wondering where the survey results are, they’re coming this week. 250 of you sailors took the survey and about half of you came up with original comments and ideas. They’re so fun to read and they show just how much we love racing. I’m going to go through them, clean them up and post them along with the survey results. I’m confident that this will be a springboard for discussion and ideas, hopefully increasing participation and making the sport better for everyone.

Slow Motion Intensity in Grand Prix 2016

Slow Motion Intensity in Grand Prix 2016

What a difference a week makes. As sailors were freaking a week ago Friday about potential winds of 60 knots, this past weekend turned out to be a whole lot more docile than was wished for, at least for the SYC Grand Prix organizers.

Jan Anderson was only on hand for Saturday’s drifter, but got some good shots. (Jan’s photo site.)

As usual, Grand Prix kicked off on Friday for those of us who could get away for the afternoon. Only about 30 boats participated, and there was more than a little head scratching on how to improve that in the future. SYC’s Sailing Director Brian Ledbetter, for instance, would have been much happier getting his father in law Bill Buchan’s Sachem on the racecourse than being on the committee boat Portage Bay.

Friday’s racing was excellent, with steady mid-teens winds across the course for the two round the buoys races that sent grinders  home with some sore muscles. After Friday several of the classes were tight including the ORC 1 class where Smoke and Glory were tied, and PHRF class 3 which had a three-way tie for first. Onboard Tango, I got to witness that one firsthand.

Yes, another shot of Tango, but hey, it's my ride and this is a great shot courtesy of the SYC race committee.
Yes, another shot of Tango, but hey, it’s my ride and this is a great shot courtesy of the SYC race committee.

The second race for that class was particularly close, with Tango edging out Joy Ride by just three seconds and five boats correcting to within a minute!

Saturday and Sunday’s conditions were nothing to write home about, but a race was sailed each day and of course there is no intensity quite like light air intensity. In addition to Jan Anderson’s shots, some enterprising members of the race committee were able to get some good shots here.

At this SYC web page, scroll to the bottom and then click on the appropriate class for results!