Following up on yesterday’s Swiftsure report, we have some more to the story. First is from frequent contributor and Hamachi crew Alyosha Strum-Palerm, who seems to be sailing everywhere, all the time, all on successful boats. Also, Bat out of Hell sailed a great race, and Terremoto had an unfortunate encounter with a rock.
By Alyosha Strum-Palerm – Onboard Hamachi we had a race of highs and lows for sure, from being launched after Race Rocks to watching everyone sail up behind us at the finish, we were left with a mixed bag of emotions. But as always we were grateful to safely and quickly complete another Swiftsure, something that our good friends on Terremoto did not. We can only hope those injured have unexpectedly swift recoveries and the boat lives to fight another day.
On Hamachi we started second to last with the other ORC 40 footers and the big sleds. We misjudged the start and ended up crossing about a minute late in very chopped up air. After working hard for 15 minutes we found a lane and tacked off onto starboard hoping to find the next river of ebb. Several short tacks later, we found ourselves on a lifting starboard board in very favorable current. This lane sailed us around all the boats to weather of us and by the time we got to race rocks we had caught the TP52’s, RP55, SC70’s, and the faster Cape Flattery boats.
This is where we lost our 5-8 knot southeasterly and the transition to the westerly began. Glory, Crossfire, Riva and Terremoto committed to the Canadian shore while Smoke, Neptune’s Car, and we started to cross over to the American shore. We knew this was a gamble with the brutal flood just hours from starting and the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the strait with nowhere to hide being very real. This ended up being the deciding moment of the beat to Neah Bay. Smoke got absolutely launched and we were close behind them as well as Dragonfly and the Car. Longboard paced about a mile and a half behind us.
It took until 4.30PM for Crossfire to finally pass us again in the wispy fog just northwest of Pillar Point. This is where we finally saw Westerly again, which had gone hard to the American shore before Race Rocks. Pretty spooky sight to see a dark blue 70-foot boat appear out of the fog less than 200 yards away.
At this point, we thought we had all the other boats in our class well put away. As we got closer to Clallum bay we realized our lead wasn’t as untouchable as we previously thought. Longboard was in sight and Absolutely and Dark Star were about a mile behind us. This lead evaporated to several yards as we missed a nice shift and pressure to Dark Star and Absolutely. This is where Glory and Kinetic passed us as well.
The breeze piped up to about 13-15 knots and we made the change to the Heavy 1, this proved to be a good call as we extended back our lead on Absolutely, Longboard and kept pace with Dark Star, rounding just behind the 44-foot Bieker boat.
The downwind leg was a strange one, with boatspeed sitting between 11-13 knots for the first hour and sailing in visibility of <100 yards, it was difficult sailing for sure. We maintained about a mile to two gap behind Dark Star until race rocks, at times during the night we felt pretty out of phase. This is something we’ll aim to improve on before the outside legs of the Van Isle.
I was down below catching an hour of sleep when the DSC VHF alarm went off. It was sobering to hear that Terremoto had hit something at speed in the dark, in the fog, just miles from where we were. Our thoughts go out to them, then and now.
Rounding Hein Bank we felt as if we had a healthy lead on the other boats in our division and even some Div 1 boats. Strait Marine, Longboard and the 1D48 were about 20-25 minutes behind us and White Cloud and Jackrabbit were significantly farther back. Rounding the mark we pointed our bow at Victoria and let it rip on the heavy 1 in about 11-13 knots of breeze. We felt confident that a class and overall victory was within reach, especially seeing that the big boys had parked up on the approach for Victoria (Perhaps naively we thought we would escape this fate).
And park up we did, sitting just a mile from the finish and watching several dark sails get larger and larger behind us was frustrating to say the least. But as always you realize that that’s just the reality of handicap racing and sailboat racing in general. Sometimes you catch a break (like we did at Race Rocks) and sometimes you park up and watch everyone sail around you. We can only imagine the frustration on Smoke, as they had sailed a fantastic beat up to Neah Bay and a strong run back down to Hein Bank before parking up and watching all their competitors sail around them.
Following the race, Hamachi motored up to West Sound where she will stay for two weeks before Van Isle.
Stay tuned for more adventures from team Hamachi at Van Isle. We can only imagine the kind of mischief and fun we will be getting into.
Bat out of Hell
Alert reader Jenni pointed out I left out mention of the winner of the Juan de Fuca race. Sorry! I don’t have a report from onboard, but I watched her race in replay on the tracker and it clearly showed a very strong performance, by all appearances having led her class the whole way. Second place Bulletproof scooted up on third place Final Dash in the drift to the finish, which couldn’t have felt good on Dash which had had a strong second going. Congratulations to Lance Staughton and crew aboard Bat out of Hell.
Terremoto‘s race came to an abrupt end a couple of miles west of Race Rocks. In the moonless fog she found a rock while sailing at about 13 knots under spinnaker. One crew was hurt (ribs) and the boat started leaking, but between the Royal Vic personnel and the Canadian Coast Guard, the situation was soon under control. The injured crew was picked up, and the boat was accompanied to Victoria. Ultimately Terremoto was delivered to Canoe Cove Marina where she was hauled. It’s worth noting that while the impact was huge, the cassette-type keel mounting system remained basically intact. A lesser design may have had much more damage.