Blackout on the Spring Shakedown. Shakedown they did as 9 boats made it out for the 2nd race in the West Sound Sailing Association’s series, the Spring Shakedown hosted by Port Orchard Yacht Club. On the same gray morning that saw 49 boats challenging their way around Shilshole Bay in light shifty breeze, the enthusiastic crowd over on the west side of Bainbridge Island were treated to a nice 5 to 8 knot Northerly breeze as they slipped up and down Sinclair Inlet just off the big Bremerton Naval Base.
Starting with donuts on the dock provided by the always welcoming J/105 sailor Mathew Gardner-Brown, the fleet freed their dock lines and sailed off the POYC marina for the early morning start. One of those great locations where the RC can stand on the dock and fire off the starting horns, the first leg in the course takes the sailors up along the Port Orchard beach past the marina and parks to the day marker at Waterman’s Point. Then they hoist their chutes and head back into the inlet across the entrance to the Washington Narrows and then along the Naval Base to a mark set inland of Port Orchard Yacht Club. Then back to weather along the shore to a mark near Annapolis, back to the leeward mark inland of the yacht club and off to the finish. Plenty of turns to keep the crew working hard and show who can make the transitions quickest, and more importantly the smoothest.
The 2 boats in the cruising class started first followed by the 3 boat division 2 with ratings from 186 to 222. The Cal 9.2 Falcon nailed the port tack line to the start and then it was off to the races for the old bird. “We crossed the Bows of Emerald Lady and Jabez,” says Bryan Massey, “sailed about 100 more yards and then tacked onto Starboard with a nice lead.” Behind them in division 1 they watched and learned and as they bounded off the line the Express 37 Tantalus had it all figured out, jumped into the lead and held on all the way around the course. But behind them, the Santana 30/30 Blackout watched things just a little bit better and kept close on their heels. “Tantalus led the day,” says Gerry Austin, “but Blackout played the tactics perfectly, keeping them close.” Close enough to easily correct over the bigger faster boat for the win on the day.
Not without its challenges though, the big ebb tide that had the fleets struggling all over the sound were just as big over in Sinclair Inlet and before you knew it there were a few keels stuck in the sticky brown mud the inlet is so famous for. “The second lap was pretty straight forward except for Jabez, and two other boats who were out cruising,” laughs Gerry Austin. “They ran aground in the mud in front of Port Orchard’s marina park. Three boats in all grounded… The fleet attempted a rescue after the race with no luck, but everyone made sure Jabez had plenty of beer to wait out the tide.”
Another great event for the avid West Sound sailors followed by the standard party on the docks after the race just brings out the best in sailors and reminds us why we all do this crazy sport. After the corrections were complete, and before Jabez freed herself from the mud, the final results came in and the BMF Seaborn 50 Helene took the cruising class fleet by a rather large margin over the Catalina 30 Annica. Division 2 was dominated by the port tack boys on the Cal 9.2 Falcon, correcting almost 10 minutes in front of the Catalina 27 Emerald Lady. Division 1 was stolen by the smallest boat in the fleet, the Santana 30/30 Blackout. Finishing 3rd in the 4 boat class Blackout corrected to over 5 minutes in front of the consistently well sailed J/105 Dulcinea.
Next up for the West Sound Sailing Association series is the Rich Passage Ramble, April 12. Always a challenge sailing out of the inlet, through Rich Passage, around Blake Island and back again. It’s sure to bring out the current charts and push your tactics as you traverse the narrow, current riddled waters. Full results and more information on the West sound races can be found at http://wscyc.net/wssa-home/
Photo’s courtesy of Marielle Massey