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: Weather for 16, 17, & 18 Feb, Breezy Toliva Shoal Race

Bruce’s Brief’s: Weather for 16, 17, & 18 Feb, Breezy Toliva Shoal Race

Oh boy, you better sit down and get out the AED because you almost never see these three words in the same sentence: Toliva Shoal and Breezy! The models all seem to agree, we are gonna have some wind this weekend with the slight possibility of snow late Saturday and early Sunday, so if you’re going on the race you had better prepare accordingly. This includes a potential wind chill of 15-20°F which is no joke.

As you can see from the surface charts we have a relatively weak low-pressure system with an attached frontal system working over us today to be followed by a much stronger system tomorrow. The front associated with tomorrow’s system will pass through near dawn leaving us with a strong post-frontal, onshore flow. This will mean strong SW breeze over the south and central Sound with steady winds of 20-30 knots with gusts to 45 knots and this will hold for most of Saturday, even over the Toliva Shoal Race Course.

The other good news is that we’ll have favorable tides with the ebb starting just before the race starts. In this run, reach, run scenario you will probably make it to the Toliva mark fairly early which means you’ll need to be thinking ahead and be constantly planning for that next leg, especially the leg from Johnson Pt to Buoy #3 at the Flats. This will be a shifty reach where you’ll really want to have the barber-hauler rigged on the port side before you leave the dock because once you’re racing you’ll be too busy to rig it. There will also be plenty of rain which will knock visibility down so be sure to have the compass courses posted for each leg.

It will almost certainly be a hard beat from Toliva Shoal back to the finish. It tends to be lighter going through Balch Passage however if the breeze is on I would be tempted to stay with the #4 or your small jib rather than trying to do multiple headsail changes. Just power up the main. The crew will also like short tacking in there with the smaller headsail. You’ll want to work the Devils Head side of Drayton Passage to stay in flatter water then hold starboard tack all the way across to the flatter water below Johnson Point. From there to Boston Harbor it will be stay on the favored tack and HIKE, HIKE, HIKE! Once you get into Budd Inlet, you’ll want to favor the west side for flatter water and the puffs will be lifts on starboard tack.

This will be a good one just make sure the jacklines are run and everyone is wearing life jackets and harnessed up before you leave the dock.

And then there’s Sunday! By early Sunday morning, the breeze will swing around to the north-northeast and blow just as hard from that direction. Probably 25-35 knots in the north and central Sound, and the eastern end of the Straits, and 15-25 knots in the South Sound. This will also be bringing that very cold air down from the BC interior. Maybe wait until next weekend to do that delivery from Olympia to points north.

Have a great weekend, just be safe out there.


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.