It was an auspicious start to racing in 2018. Three Tree Point YC’s Duwamish Head Race, which has had it’s weather/finishing/shortened difficulties over the years came through with a fine day of racing last Saturday. It was a fast race, especially for the big boats, but there wasn’t a lot of a maneuvering and a limited number of tactical decisions to be made.
A strong current was pushing boats over the line, but soon the fleet was flying along the West Seattle waterfront beaches. The boats gave the Saturday morning walkers at Alki a bit of show as they headed to, and then from, the Duwamish Head Light. A medium air reach across Puget Sound was straightforward.
After rounding Blakely Rock, the larger boats that managed to stay west enjoyed a more westerly angle and came into the finish without tacking. Any of those that footed off found they needed to tack up around Three Tree Point Point. Many of the later, smaller boats had more of a beat.
The fast race combined with the time on distance scoring skewed some of the results, with the advantage going to the slower-rated boats. Keep reading to get a report from Image in the middle of the fleet. Results here.
Here are some of Jan Anderson’s photos. See more and buy them here.
The newest (and oldest) of the Northwest’s three-boat TP 52 “fleet” is Steve Johnson’s Mist (formerly Braveheart and Valkyrie). Johnson put many miles under his old White Cloud‘s keel, and wanted a new challenge. A TP 52 is certainly that.
The Duwamish Head race was part of that learning curve. Mist was over early at the start (“I’m not used to a boat jumping up to 12 knots that fast,” Johnson explained) and then had to chase Crossfire around the course the rest of the way. And the way the time on distance handicaps worked out both boats found themselves down in the standings.
At this point in the Mist program, that hardly matters. “Sooner or later we’ll learn how to sail it to its rating,” Johnson says. Right now he’s still adjusting to the TP52 speeds. One of the adjustments is the challenge for driving the beast – it demands laser-focus. As Johnson puts it, “there’s not a lot of forgiveness.” Another adjustment Johnson has to make is the flat out speed. “It changes your perception of how big Puget Sound is.” Indeed.
The team, basically the same White Cloud crew with some additions, is learning jib trim with the in-hauler set as close as 5° off center line, which is about 2 degrees less than White Cloud. The current crop of TPs on the Mediterranean are set at about 4.5 degrees.
One of the more interesting aspects of a TP52 program is access to sails. Johnson hopes to set up “a relationship” with a Med TP program to have access to their “old” sails that might have as little as a few short hours of use. Mist‘s inventory was already pretty good thanks to one of those relationships with Sled.
Mist is in relatively good condition, but there have been some annoying breakdowns including a broken outhaul in Round the County. Built as a late first-generation/early second-generation TP52 as Braveheart, the stout boat was built for ocean racing with ring frames and a sturdy rig. But as with any boat, there’s maintenance and modifications to be made. One of the first things on Johnson’s list is to set the galley up with a foot pump to fill water bottles from the water tank, as opposed to lugging aboard (and disposing of) water bottled in plastic. Environmentalism is in, folks.
Currently the long range plan is to do the usual Northwest races with an eye toward the Van Isle 360 in a year and a half.
Alert reader Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski chimed in with his own Duwamish Head Story, specifically PHRF-7. Sounds like the class had a close race and there was a happy crew aboard Image. Here’s Marc:
PHRF-7 had a fantastic race last weekend. Having 6 boats with similar ratings out gave the Image crew a really nice benchmark and allowed us get a good read on our boat speed.
After a port tack approach to the start line we held a position to windward of the fleet, reaching a little longer with the #3 jib up. We were the last boat to set our spinnaker which allowed the J/29s to pull away but we managed to stay close to Les Chevaux Blacs and Folie a Deux. Once we were certain we could lay Alki beach the kite came up and we had a nice reach down. About a third of the way to Alki, Absolutely and a bit later String Theory passed us to windward and we got a good look at Crossfire flying towards Alki. With the wind moving slightly more behind us, we moved the our A-kite from being bow tacked to the spinnaker pole and squared it back a little which required us to set up the reaching strut – that’s the fun of being the old school boat in the fleet. At Alki Pt, we were a tad late to jibe towards the Duwamish head mark (partially due to our pole magic) which cost us some precious boat lengths and moved us back to last place in the fleet.
After ducking the yellow trimaran Ruf Duck the broad reach towards the Duwamish head mark went without a hitch. We were a little late getting the #1 on deck and set up so we had to round the mark bald headed which got us stuck in dirty air. As soon as we noticed we would not be able to lay Blakely Rock, we did two tacks putting us to windward of the rear end of the fleet which really helped with boat speed. We reached Blakely Rock together with Folie a Deux, tacked to starboard right with them and a 20 minute drag race ensued. We managed to sail slightly higher and slightly faster than them, eventually passing them and forcing them to foot toward the middle of the course to find clear air. Shortly after this, we had a prime spot for watching the orca pod (ed. note – how cool is that?!) that was moving north.
We needed to put in two additional tacks before the finish line, probably due to the wind dying down temporarily but spirits were high, especially when we sighted Les Chevaux Blancs and Folie a Deux behind us.
All in all, the entire crew of Image enjoyed the race a whole lot. After spending more than two years building crew and skills as well as slowly converting the boat from a full on cruising boat (featuring her original 1982 sails) it seemed like to work was paying off and we got some good boat on boat action.
It’s absolutely great that readers chime in from all parts of the fleet, in particular from older boats that are enjoying the racing every bit as much as the boats with 5-degree sheeting angles! Keep sending your stories, videos and photos and I’ll keep posting them.