Ahh Winter Vashon – lovingly sitting at the forefront of sailors minds as they think longingly all year long about this balmy jaunt around the last stronghold of hippiedom in the Pacific Northwest, Vashon Island. At Just over 30 miles, it’s an easy 6 hour sail with those consistent south sound winds the area is known for and with our 8 hours of light this time of year finishing in daylight is even a possibility! Right? Well it was this year!
11 Moore 24’s made it out for a regatta in Seattle and I got to be one of them! We had a hell of a time, a good amount of tomfoolery, a large dose of Yee Haws and some great comradery and laughter. But the experience got me to thinking about the people, the boat and the class that has kept this boat not only viable but downright fun to sail and race over 40 years after the concept first hit the water – it’s time for a public service message.
Moore 24 sailors have a bunch of hairball stories of taking these boats offshore, out in big breeze venues and planning across finish lines in front of much bigger, faster and more expensive boats. Most look to be sane and normal sailors, but I know the truth and you should too – before it is too late.
If you didn’t return to the dock with a smile on your face it’s time you quit sailing and take up horse riding! It simply does not get much better than the two days of racing that showed up for this year’s Puget Sound Spring Regatta, hosted by Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle. 55 boats made it out April 12/13 for two of the most stellar days of the year for sailing in the Pacific Northwest.
“That was a Great Day!” You may chuckle a little at that comment. Even though it was grey, even though it rained a bit, even though it wasn’t warm and even though it wasn’t windy enough to plane – it was a great day. It was great that 89 boats made it out racing while the waters of the Midwest are still under ice. It was great that 89 boats were out sailing while most of the NE fleet is on the hard and it was great that 89 boats got off the dock and helped raise money for Sail Sand Point, the beneficiary for this year’s Blakely Rock Benefit.
Hosted by the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club, their annual benefit race always brings ‘em out in droves with 2 solid no flying sails classes and 12, count em, 12 PHRF flying sails classes. Everything from the Cal 2-24 with a rating of 273 all the way up to the J/145 rated -21 along with 4 pickle forks in the Multi-Hull Class. The Blakely Rock Benefit crosses all lines of sailing and just gets boats out sailing and gets the party rolling at the club (yes it’s just a tavern) after sailing.
Leaning into the breeze with arms flapping off behind his back, Chris White, the Tulip P.R.O., made his way out to the end of the docks to get a wind reading early Saturday morning– puffs kissing 50 knots. Officially on dock postponement, the 26 boats entered in this year’s Tulip Regatta sat back and savored an hour of rest and recovery from the previous evening’s kickoff party at the always welcoming Anacortes Yacht Club.
By 11am the winds had backed off into the high 20’s and as the dock postponement came down the hearty sailors wrapped themselves up tight like a tulip just days away from opening then shoved themselves off the dock towards the race course outside of Cap Sante Marina. 26 boats in 6 different classes – 3 PHRF and 3 one design groups – 505’s, Santa Cruz 27’s, and a one boat Nonsuch 26 class.
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
Sailing Instruction 8.2 – the phrase of the day for the final race of Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle’s Center Sound Series, the Three Tree Point race. High pressure set up over the region Friday and “Following the old rule of thumb,” says Northwest Yachting’s Expert Weather Guru Bruce Hedrick, “the first day that the ridge of high pressure starts to build over the Northwest is the day you will have the best breeze from the north….then every day after, the breeze drops and… In other words it looks pretty much like light and variable breeze” for the race.
Turnout dropped for the final race in the series, bringing 49 boats out to the line Saturday morning in the light southwesterly breeze. SI 8.2 – the S flag was up, the course was on the reader board and as the starts began rolling off the line you began to see who had read the SI’s, who had enough coffee, and who was paying attention. “Fun challenging day on the water,” says Ballard Sails’ Joe Grieser. “Interesting to see what boats read the sailing instructions and which ones didn’t.”
As the keeners sailed off towards West Point and the first mark in the now shortened course – Duwamish Head, a good third of the fleet sailed off to Bainbridge. One could argue they were heading west for breeze, a possible wind shift from the NW or some current relief away from the Duwamish wash and the fairly substantial ebbing tide. One could argue maybe one or two of these boats was doing just that, but as Kirk Utter, sailing aboard Terremoto explains “we were sailing to Three Tree Point! We had no idea the shortened course was being used until we got to about Restoration Point. Once we saw the early starters rounding the day marker we reached across, lost a few places with the extra distance but in the end didn’t do that bad.”
The keeners that read the SI’s and noticed the S flag and course sign worked their way up around West Point trying desperately to avoid the ebbing current in their light South Easterly breeze. Eventually becalmed under Magnolia the keener fleet was left drifting while the winds still pushed the boats south along the Western side of the sound. Then, finally, a light westerly filled in along Magnolia and as the western boats lost their breeze the keeners were back in the game sailing off towards the Duwamish Head day marker under genoa and spinnakers.
Then it was time for the puff chasing, spotty beat back around West Point and off to Meadow Point, the second mark in the shortened course. The trick became keeping the boat moving towards the strongest small zephyrs while finding the strong ebbing current lane as it combines with the Duwamish wash and most importantly avoid running aground in the mud flats off of Magnolia!
Once around West Point boats played the line between current and wind, still a Northwesterly without the standard lift along the Shilshole breakwater. Boats were finally able to sail in along Shilshole about halfway up the breakwater and a few tacks later they found themselves rounding Meadow Point with the beautiful sounds of the finish blasts as the RC shortened the course again at the second mark in the course. The nimble and light Farr 30’s lead the charge along the breakwater and across the finish line while the big IRC monster trucks worked up their transoms, finishing just minutes behind them.
All in all a fun spring series with the Farr 30 Project Mayhem, owned by Grady Morgan taking day overall in the PHRF fleet with two more Farr 30’s just minutes behind them for 2nd and 3rd overall. For the Class results Freda Mea once again took the honors in the 2 boat Multi Hull fleet with Tatiana scoring a DNF. The IRC class was dominated by John Kerrigan’s Ker 46 New Haven – correcting almost 10 minutes in front of the second place boat JAM, the J/160 owned by John McPhail. Brad Cole’s Melges 32 Ballistic finished first in Division 2 correcting 3 minutes in front of Carl Buchan’s always fast Custom 40 Madrona. Division 3 was sailed away with by the J/120 Time Bandit, owned by Bob Brunius. Correcting over 12 minutes in front of the Restoration Point boys aboard William Weinstein’s Riptide 35 Terremoto.
Division 4 was won by the first to finish crowd aboard Grady Morgan’s Farr 30 Project Mayhem. 2 minutes behind them in second was the Bat Out Of Hell Farr 30 owned by Lance Staughton. Stuart Burnell’s J/109 Tantivy easily took the day in Division 5. Correcting almost 12 minutes in front of the J/35 Tahlequah. The battle of the J/105’s in Division 6 was once again won by Erik Kristen and crew aboard #114 Jubilee finishing less than a minute in front of Jerry Diercks #272 Delirium. Division 7 was dominated by the always fun and loud J/29 Beer & Now leaving second, over nine minutes back, to the Santa Cruz 33 Muffin, owned by Garry Greth. Finally Division 8, the hotly contested and competitive class, was won by Hood River Yacht Club’s Andy Mack and crew aboard their J/27 True North. Holding on after correction by over 5 minutes in front of Nate Crietz’ always well sailed Olson 25 Three Ring Circus.
All of Jan’s photo’s can be found at janpix.smugmug.com