Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Glass-outs & Reflections- Sailing Race 2 the Straits

Race 2 the Straits- calm on Puget Sound Lanzinger’s J/125 HAMACHI Wins Overall! J/Teams Sweep Classes!
(Seattle, WA)- No question the rock stars of the Puget Sound offshore short-handed sailing community were in attendance for the famous Sloop Tavern YC Race to the Straits Regatta. As one might expect, depending on one’s experience, it was either “awesome” or simply a “tidal affair”, with emotions swinging to and fro depending, in particular, how they negotiated the truly infamous Marrowstone Point tidal gate.

The event takes place over a weekend.  On Saturday the fleet heads north.  After surviving the tidal shenanigans from Shilshole to Port Townsend, everyone enjoys a massive celebration that can last into the wee hours of the evening (next morning!). Sunday the fleet heads back down south, hungover or not, it’s always a challenge to get home.

For the thirty-six J/Teams entered (27% of the 134 entered), it was a formidable challenge on Sunday.  Saturday’s racing was cancelled due to no wind, so the fleet powered north to the party and enjoyed a beautiful warm, sunset glow on Puget Sound.  Sunday saw just enough breeze for the faster boats to blow through the tidal gates at several points to finish.

J/105 sailing Race to the Straits off Seattle, WAHere were some perspectives offered on SailingAnarchy.com:

“Getting around Marrowstone Pt on Sunday morning was essential. I have always stayed close to the north side of Marrowstone Island and then close to the tip of Marrowstone Pt. I made it on my first try and consider myself fortunate as similar boats to mine were only 20 ft farther offshore and did not make it. It took a long time to finally clear the point sailing straight into the current.”

“Sunday was a trying but fun day.  From the start there were challenges..sky'ed the dousing line for the spinnaker sock.  At Marrowstone Point tried at least four times to cross the tide rip.  Crazy scene with boats on starboard charging into the rip (with rights) and seeing the maneuvering required by boats on port trying to inch forward to the point in the tide rip.  Anchoring would be been fun to get a front row seat to the madness. Whaddayagonnado.”

“Eventually made our way across to Whidbey and sailed in good wind up to Double Bluff with favorable eddies along Greenback lagoon, Bush Point and then a crabbed approach to and past the Double Bluff mark.  From there stretched back across with Grey Wolf to catch the flood around Pt No Point.  Decided on stay out in wind vs river along the beach.  Had a odd 5' shift to SW for a few minutes near Edmonds creating all sorts of confusion.”

J/30 sailing Race to the Straits in SeattleThen, PNW J/Dealer Ben Braden offered some commentary- “Speaking for myself, I love the challenge of dealing with the currents and wind and would hate to see the event changed to make it easier.  To me, the idea of shorthanded sailing is to deal with adversity, both on and off the boat, and deal with it a way that isn't "normal" racing.

If the winds had been as predicted Saturday, there would have been no issues.  Yet, also, if those with slower boats or outboards recognized the situation, the currents and the distances they would have correctly began dropping out Saturday about noon, and then learned the currents for Sunday while motoring up towards the Port Townsend canal.  That is just prudent seamanship, which takes precedence over attempting to finish a race.

Race to the straits current chartSunday’s race was a lesson for everyone that went out into the current at Marrowstone Point.  If your boat isn't faster than the current, anchor - you will be faster than the boats that don't anchor.  One boat was anchoring when we arrived, we tried to get around them twice but with the SW wind angle couldn't do it right on port tack, so we spun around and anchored- immediately, we began beating everyone else in our class.  Blue Lullaby was not anchored with us, just Tuesday. We anchored for about 20 minutes, the wind switched to the SE, just as the 93 raters arrived and we then pulled anchor and joined them rounding the point.  It wasn't hard sailing, it was patient sailing.  The fact that so few sailors were patient enough to make it happen says more about our modern world than the difficulty of the race.

We were the only boat in our class to finish- it wasn't easy, took a lot of patience, many good tactical calls and 20 minutes of anchoring (the bbq'ed chicken didn't hurt either), we had another 50 minutes to spare on the time limit.  Boats in my class that did not finish reported dropping out near Keystone at 10:30am because they had played the current wrong.  Don't change a thing, don't make the race easier.  Bravo Zulu STYC!”

In general, it was clear J sailors relished the difficult choices made to get around the track on Sunday.  While Saturday was a classic “glass-out”, with racing cancelled, Sunday’s conditions presented a unique combination of playing current versus winds to make both tactical and strategic gains.  Taking the overall win by a proverbial country-mile was Fritz Lanzinger’s J/125 HAMACHI, winning overall on corrected time by 25+ minutes as well as taking their class win.

J/24 sailing Race to the Straits regattaFifth overall was Andy & Jaime Mack’s J/122 GRACE about a half hour back.  Seventh was Kathryn Meyer’s J/105 JUBILEE, 9th was David Cohen’s J/105 INCONCEIVABLE, 10th was Matt Gardner-Brown’s J/105 DULCINEA, 11th was Stu Brunell’s J/109 TANTIVY, 14th Pat Denney’s J/29 HERE & NOW, 15th Henderson/ Barber’s J/105 DELIRIUM, 16th Mike Poole’s J/80 JOLLY GREEN, 19th Jim Geros’ J/105 LAST TANGO, 20th Leo Morales’ J/27 WIZARD, 21st Dennis Clark’s J/27 NUMBER LXIII and 25th was Tom Herr & Serhad’s J/33 CORVO.  An absolutely amazing display of seamanship and strategy for these teams- 13 of the top 25!

Here were the class breakdowns for the various J/teams, quite an impressive showing across the board!
  • Class 2- Singlehanded Flying Sails- Dan Wieman’s J/35 GREAT WHITE took 1st and Kevin Callahan’s J/80 NAMASTE was 3rd.
  • Class 4- Doublehanded Flying Sails- Lanzinger’s J/125 HAMACHI won.
  • Class 5- Doublehanded Flying Sails- Mack’s J/122 GRACE won.
  • Class 7- Doublehanded Flying Sails- Burnell’s J/109 TANTIVY won.
  • Class 8- Doublehanded Flying Sails- Kerr/Serhad’s J/33 CORVO was 2nd.
  • Class 9- J/105 Doublehanded- Meyer’s JUBILEE 1st, Cohen’s INCONCEIVABLE 2nd, Gardner-Brown’s DULCINEA 3rd.
  • Class 10- Doublehanded- Denney’s J/29 HERE & NOW was 2nd.
  • Class 11- Doublehanded- Poole’s J/80 JOLLY GREEN won
  • Class 13- Doublehanded- J/teams swept- Morales’ J/27 WIZARD 1st, Clark’s J/27 NUMBER LXIII 2nd, Adrien Feloon’s J/30 CONRAD J 3rd, Theo Singelis’ TAKU 4th.
  • Class 16- Doublehanded- Scott Galbraith’s J/24 FLYER won
  • Jack & Jill Class- Mack’s J/122 GRACE was 3rd, Kathryn Meyer’s J/105 JUBILEE was 4th, Matt Gardner-Brown’s J/105 DULCINEA was 6th and Henderson/Barber’s J/105 DELIRIUM was 9th.  
Sailing photo credits- Jan Anderson   For more Sloop Tavern YC Race To The Straits sailing information