Vashon Island Race Shuffle

Vashon Island Race Shuffle

The Vashon Island Race last Saturday threw a little bit of everything at the fleet, from breeze-on conditions to a few agonizing holes that snatched defeat from victory. It was also a great example of why racing on Puget Sound is so entertaining. It’s a beautiful course around the some extraordinary scenery, a definite mental puzzle to work around the currents and geographical windshifts and, for better or worse, the kind of race where you’re never really out of it ’til the finish horn sounds.

I heard from a couple of guys on those ridiculously fast 50-something footers.

Sailish’s Bruce Hedrick was naviguessing Crossfire around the course. “Other than a terrible start, I think we sailed a near perfect upwind leg. Threaded the flukey stuff from Blake Island to Three Tree Point, put a huge hurt on Smoke and Neptune’s Car but couldn’t shake Glory. Then right before Point Robinson, being slightly more to the west, we got above a northbound freighter that Glory had to go below and that put us on the inside of a continuous lift. Where we just continued to take advantage of and really put them away.

We had a huge lead starting up Colvos, then got into the hole first. No magic way to get around that hole while they brought the new wind up with them. Oh well, it is Putrid Sound.” 

Skip Anderson of Flagship Maritime pointed out some proper commercial/racer traffic interaction on Facebook, which it seems everyone should hear about. See photo below. Skip explains: “The ferry was neither “following a vessel traffic lane” nor in a narrow channel, so was simply a “power driven vessel”. Recognizing that the sailing vessel was the stand on vessel, the ferry sounded three (3) short blasts (“I am operating astern propulsion”), gave “Smoke” ample room to pass ahead, and the moment passed without incident. Nice to witness in person.”

Once again, Jan Anderson has been kind enough to lend some photos to this story. Go to her site to see the rest.

And on the aforementioned Glory, 48 North editor Joe Cline enjoyed a new-to-him role on the TP 52 Glory. “Saturday was great. We had a different main trimmer and a new jib trimmer (me). The stand-in main trimmer, Scott Smith, is vastly experienced, but considering my inexperience in that role and generally having people out of position, I felt good about finishing second less than a minute behind Smoke

“But really, any Vashon Island race that you finish in daylight is a good race! There was a little cell with breeze in the teens down south, but otherwise it was light to moderate with mercifully little rain.  The fun trip up Colvos required a ton of jibes (I was glad not to be on the grinder pedestal for that one Ed. Note, his usual spot)!  I’m nursing my first sunburn of the year, and couldn’t be happier about it.  

“It was really rewarding to get the promotion to trimmer for the day, and to try to put into action what I’ve observed about the absolute WORLD of ways to affect different shapes on those boats. Those floating leads, man! There were certainly a few fraught moments, but overall what a great experience and a steep learning curve. 

“No joke, I had a dream about floating lead placement the night after the race.”

As the second of Seattle YC’s Tri-island series, it sets the scene for the grand finale of the Blake Island Race on June 3. Terremoto and Kiwi Express are in charge of the overall long and short course PHRF divisions with a pair of bullets each. The ORC Long Course class has become very interesting with Smoke winning Vashon. The top three boats are separated by only two points, with Glory just ahead of Smoke and New Haven.

Results here. 

Among the cruisers it’s Jiminy, Runaway and Puffin with three, four and five points respectively. There are a lot really good sailors in that class who probably just don’t want to pull their anchors off the bow and stack the rail. I get it. It’s great to see the cruiser/racer class becoming more popular, and I’ll bet that for Blake Island there will be some pretty focused cruisers.

Bruce’s Weather Brief for May 13-14, Mother’s Day and SYC Vashon Island Race

Bruce’s Weather Brief for May 13-14, Mother’s Day and SYC Vashon Island Race

It certainly won’t exactly be the nicest of weekends but Sunday will be the better of the two days. The problem is a very persistent upper-level low-pressure system which is just not moving very much and will keep cool, unstable air coming ashore all weekend. Take a look at the attached Langley Doppler from this afternoon and then compare it to tomorrow morning before you head out.

For now, check the current surface chart and the current 500MB chart to get a feel for what is actually going on. As you can see from tomorrow’s chart, the surface gradient will have opened up and the remains of a weakened frontal system will be approaching the coast. The really cool feature about that chart is the Pacific High which is looking very summer like. About the right pressure, 1040 MB, and in very much the right place. The only problem may be that this is a little early in the summer cycle for this to be occurring. If however, Comanche were starting TransPac tomorrow, she would absolutely blitz the record. We’ll see.

The models have come together nicely for tomorrow so we’ll roll the dice and put this out there. As always, check all your resources before you leave the house tomorrow morning. Cool, unstable air coming ashore doesn’t make for a tremendously accurate forecast.

Tidal Currents

West Point

0618      Slack

0800      Max ebb                .43 knots

1042      Slack

1606      Max flood             1.14 knots

1924      Slack

Narrows north end

0700      Slack

1118      Max ebb                3.98 knots

1430      Slack

1654      Max flood             3.95 knots

2054      Slack

There should be enough wind to allow the Vashon Island Race to start on time which is about an hour after max ebb, we still need to remember that the ebb will extend because of the amount of rain today and what will be flowing out of the Duwamish. There will probably still be a localized SE breeze at Shilshole, however at West Point it will probably be time to think about getting to the west anticipating a shift to the WSW as the day goes on.

As usual, in these conditions, it may get a bit fluky from the north end of Vashon to Pt. Robinson where, if we’re lucky, the WSW will finally start to build to 8-12 knots. You’ll want to be careful to not get too close to the Vashon shore as the wind will be coming over the Island and may not touch down until well offshore. At the bottom end of the Island stay out a ways to avoid the eastward flowing current that pretty much always run there. Get into the ebb up Colvos Passage and don’t get too close to either shore. Drivers and spinnaker trimmers will be working very hard all the way up Colvos. This will not be “Miller time”.

From the north end of Colvos to West Point, the wind will probably back from the SW to the S so you’ll need to anticipate the gybe and your approach to the finish. Watch gybing in north of West Point as this can get light from West Point to the Ship Canal.

For those of you going cruising this weekend, no real major issues of too much breeze except in the eastern end of the Straits and the San Juan Islands in the early Sunday morning hours when you should be at anchor. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of scope out and plenty of room to swing.

Have a great weekend and do something nice for mom!