Toliva Shoal Race a Boom-buster

Toliva Shoal Race a Boom-buster

There’s nothing like a little carnage to get the racing blood boiling. The Toliva Shoal Race, third in the South Sound Series, was raced on Saturday. We can talk about race tactics, but it seems like it was mainly an exercise of survival on the course. Details are still coming in, and apologies for anything inaccurate or missing, but here’s what we have so far:

Broken finger onboard Korina Korina.

Broken boom on Equus.

Blown up chute on Cherokee.

Lost rudder and engine issues on Zig Zag, had to be towed from the McNeil Island area.

Torn main on Les Cheveux Blanc.

Lost backstay on Flying Circus.

Rig issues on Bodacious.

By all accounts Bruce had it right on Friday’s Brief, and the gusts that knocked boats silly sure seemed to be in the 40s. The wind came through on bursts, taking a what seemed like a challenging but under control run into a broach crisis. The boats that made it to Toliva Shoal then faced a brutal upwind. Some came in under headsail alone. There were 19 finishers and over 50 entries. Winners included Jam, String Theory, Leucothea, Lightly Salted, Redline, Folie ‘a Deux, Cherokee, White Squall and Jolly Rumbalow. Results.

According to Kenelm Russell, who’s done “nearly all of them,” this one was the windiest. Not too much for his Fast Passage 39, which he sailed as a family affair including sons, daughter and brother. The mainsail had to come down when the reefing line snapped, and two windows were knocked out because of flailing sheets, but none of it was too much for the Fast Passage Rushwind. Rushwind, after all, has been around the Pacific twice and up to Alaska. (Note to self, now that’s a cruiser racer. They still exist!)  He notes that Balch Passage was memorable. “It was frothy white – like sailing through foam,” Russell.

In a race like this, it’s best to let the pictures and videos give the explanations, so I’ve included a lot of them.


First off, from Jan Anderson’s album:


Sean Trew caught the action as well:

Here’s a video from Jim Larsen taken at Boston Harbor:

Here’s a video from the Ericson 32 Finally Free:

And here’s another by Mike Gowrylow:

If you want to share more – send them to me or share to the Facebook Page! (You do “Like” sailish on Facebook, right?)

Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

As usual, there will be a great turnout for the start of the South Sound Series. Where else do we get a chance to race in rain, snow, and sometimes a pretty good breeze. Unfortunately, this year it’s looking like some breeze for the start then dropping off as we transition from a very rainy November to a dryish and coolish start of December. November is traditionally our wettest month and this year will be no exception as we are two inches ahead of our average rainfall for the month. The good news is that we’ve only had 42 inches of rain so far this year and the record is 55 inches set in 1950. The normal amount of rain for the year by the end of November is 32 inches.

As you can see from the charts we’ve got quite a mishmash of weather systems lurking off the coast and by Monday we’ll have the start of a fairly big high-pressure system starting to build over the area with a whopping low-pressure slamming the Aleutians, again.

While it is Thursday, the models are still divergent with the general consensus shifting towards some wind on Saturday morning from the south then gradually becoming lighter before it shifts to the north by around midnight. For racers, this will mean drag racing from puff to puff as you ride the tide up Colvos. While you may have 8-10 knots of southerly for the start, this will drop to five knots or less as the day goes on with plenty of dead spots in Colvos. The masthead Windex will give you some warning about where the next puff will be coming from. The boats with the tall rigs will make out as long as the trimmers are working hard. After you get around the top mark you’ll probably have a due southerly until it goes really light around mid-afternoon. As you beat towards Pt. Robinson, don’t get too close to Vashon and don’t stray too far to the east of the rhumb line. While on starboard if the puffs start to become lifts that will tell you to stay to the west just not too close to the Island.

The great thing about TYC is that if it gets too sticky in Colvos, they usually have the good sense to end the race at the top mark so make sure someone has the bino’s out and you’re checking the flags on the mark boat.

While the parties, both pre and post race, at TYC are legendary, remember that the first day the high-pressure ridge builds over the Northwest will result in the most wind from the North and if you’re delivering the boat back to Seattle on Sunday you could have 15-20 cold knots of wind right on the nose. If they finish you at the top mark and Seattle is your home port, head straight for the barn after you finish and juggle the cars later.

Good luck and have a great race.



The Car puts her Stamp on the Islands Race, Three Tree Team Wins South Sound Series

The Car puts her Stamp on the Islands Race, Three Tree Team Wins South Sound Series

The South Sound Series came to warm, happy end over the weekend as the fleet sailed in good breeze the whole day and finished the race on a sunny note. Champion for the day was Paul LeMarche’s mighty SC70 Neptune’s Car, elapsed time, class and overall winner. Results here.

A rainy start to the day sent the fleet on its way along Colvos Passage on a fairly square run. After rounding the mark on the north side of Blake Island, it was back the way they came, but time fighting the permanent current. As the sun came out the wind clocked, giving the fleet a long starboard tack on the way home. Jan Anderson, whose photographs are presented here, reported

“Most of the spinnakers were fairly well organized (not a lot of calamity but a whole lotta color!), yet wet – wet – wet, making it tough to get a reasonable shot without rain on Jan’s lens.  Shoot – wipe – shoot – wipe – repeat – ad infinitum.  Passing the turning mark, though, where only momentarily the wind shut down in the lee of Blake Island, someone somewhere flipped a switch … the sky slowly cleared, the breeze kicked it up several notches, and for most of the fleet, the beat back to the finish off Gig Harbor was exactly that, a BEAT.”

See the rest of Jan’s photos here.

Onboard “The Car” 10 very busy bodies kept the sails going up and down in fine fashion and, according to Ballard Sails‘ Alex Simanis, they were clicking on pretty much all the oscillating shifts including about 10 gybes down Colvos. Upwind without much rail weight they opted for the #4 headsail instead of the #3. The Car isn’t your average SC70. She has about six more feet of rig plus a bigger J (foretriangle) and E (main foot) that other SCs, plus a lot more interior.

A look at the Car’s #4.

Simanis reports that Ballard Sails is selling a lot of sails these days. Some sails are built right here in Ballard while they also have a Sri Lanka loft build a lot of other sails to their own design. The tragic passing of sail designer Doug Christie a year and half ago left a void, which has since been filled by John Fries, who works with lot of high-powered East Coast racing programs. “We’re really happy with his designs,” Simanis reports.

Simanis has great plans for next year. He’s going to sail his own boat Poke ‘n Destroy to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup.

The South Sound Final Tally

As the Southern Sound Series comes to a conclusion, here are the winners:

Winning Team: Three Tree Point Yacht Club Nimbus, EQUUS, Les Chevaux Blancs

First Overall (on lowest cumulative class finishes): Bodacious

Best in Fleet (lowest fleet position scores: Kahuna

Congratulations all, and congrats to South Sound Sailing Society and all the host clubs, for once again putting on a fine series.


Don’t forget, Bruce Hedrick will be looking into his crystal weather ball on Friday before CYC’s Three Tree Point Race. To receive the newsletter sign up here. You can also get notifications when the weather reports are online by checking the Weather Notifications box when you sign up. 


Bruce’s Weather Brief for February 18-19 and Toliva Shoal Race!

Have we had enough rain yet? Apparently not as we are currently sitting at the 6th wettest February ever and there’s a ways to go before the end of the month. All we need is about 2 more inches of rain to be the wettest and that could happen this coming week.

As you can see from the current surface chart there’s not much happening over the Pacific Northwest however California is going to take another major hit this weekend. We will feel some of the residual from that system starting on Saturday afternoon and some moisture will make it up to the Sound. It still won’t bring much wind with it. Unfortunately, the models are pretty much in agreement that it’s going to be light most of the day on Saturday. The problem will be that the wind offshore with be northerly with no gradient over the Sound. As the day goes on, the wind offshore will become more westerly, still light as in 10 knots or less. And then there will be some flow through the Chehalis Gap and into the South Sound. As the wind offshore backs around to the southwest that will bring more of a southerly component to the wind over the south Sound, still probably 10 knots or less.

The good news is that the tide will be with the Toliva Shoal Race fleet and there are plenty of options for the race committee to shorten the course at any number of marks along the way. Besides, the gracious hospitality back in Olympia is not to be missed especially after the race.

Tides for Dana Passage:    


0500      Slack

0712      Flood     1.14 knots

1030      Slack

1342      Ebb          1.96 knots

1800      Slack

2024      Flood     1.25 knots

As usual, getting out of Budd Inlet will be challenging. The key will be to be near the starting line, and not be swept over with the ebb which will probably start early because of all the runoff from this week’s rain. Then find a lane of clear air and aim down the course trying to find the axis of the current while staying in the puff. If it’s 0 gusting to ½ knot don’t let too many people accumulate in the stern which increases the wetted surface area and slows the boat down. You’ll also want to be rigged for reaching with barber haulers and flying the drifter or wind seeker. Trimmers will definitely earn their keep tomorrow.

From Boston Harbor to Itsami Ledge don’t get too close to the south side of Dana Passage. The southerly breeze or what there is of it, will be coming over the land and not touch down on the water until ¼ to ½ way off the beach. Watch the smart people in front of you in the classes that started ahead and track who goes where and how they’re doing. Not always easy but worthwhile if you can make it work.

There will be a lot of water coming out of the Nisqually Flats and that can sometimes create a current that flows to the northwest from Lyle Point to Treble Point on Anderson Island so watch your COG and SOG after Buoy “3” and before your turn to go north to Toliva Shoal. You will also be able to see this current as it will be distinctly brown, muddy water on top of the saltwater of the Sound. Also track which way the eddies are spinning on tide lines to make sure you are on the fast side.

As you can see from the Sunday surface chart another front is headed our way and that will per usual manifest itself as a southeasterly in the northern part of Admiralty Inlet and the eastern end of the Straits gradually working its way back down the Sound by mid Sunday afternoon. If you’re cruising up north this weekend, thinking about being in the Straits, track the wind reports before you head out as it could be cranking on Sunday.

By next Tuesday we will have a lot more rain as two frontal systems line up and take aim at us. Could also get a bit breezy. Looking at the 500MB Charts you can see why we’re going to be watching that 950 MB low in mid-Pacific. That is a significant storm that could impact our region by next weekend.

Have a great weekend and be safe out there.