CrossFit ain’t got nothin’ on STYC – If CrossFit had sailboats they would send their clients out double handed sailing in 12 to 14 knots of breeze against 2 to 3 knots of current and tell them the winner gets a free lifetime membership! Such was the day Saturday when 107 boats began working North towards Port Townsend in the 2015 running of the Sloop Tavern Yacht Clubs Race to the Straits. Double or single handed, flying or non-flying sails, multi or mono, everything was out on the water Saturday and pushing hard for the 30 mile upwind sail to Port Townsend followed by the return race to Shilshole on Sunday.
The conditions couldn’t have been much better than they were – Sunny skies (don’t forget to tell people it always rains in Seattle), solid winds out of the North and Northwest holding boats in the top of their #1, into their #2 or some of the lightweights and all of the non-overlapping boats on their small jibs, and just enough incoming current to make all these shorthanded boats stay within that narrow strip of eddying current near shore, unable to battle the 2+ knots of negative current in the deeper water just a few hundred yards offshore.
I overheard one sailor say that things could only have been better if the current had been with us, and in true scandahuvian fashion herd this reply – “That would have been too easy! Where is the challenge if you just had to boatspeed straight up the middle of the sound? It would have been boring if the current was with us!” Things were definitely not boring with the strong incoming tide Saturday and the equally strong ebbing current on Sunday. “Words are insufficient to describe the beauty of this race,” says Steve Sponar, sailing aboard his Harbor 25 Gypsy’s Child. “If you saw the spectacle of over 100 yachts flying spinnakers sailing into Shishole using Mount Rainier as their landmark, you have a sense of what I mean. It was as though God had decorated his Christmas tree over the weekend and the bulbs had fallen into Puget Sound on Sunday afternoon – SPECTACULAR!”
As a pursuit race the slower rated boats start first and Saturday morning, just after 8am, the first boats began sailing across the start line and continued until a bit after 10am when the fastest rated boat in the fleet, the J/145 Jedi joined the fun and began chasing down their competition. No easy feat for them as the ebbing current was just beginning to wane and they had to search for clear lanes through the bad air of the 106 boats that started in front of them while at the same time control those big sails on a 48’ boat with overlapping genoas and just two people. They pushed her hard and were mid fleet by the time they reached the halfway buoy at Double Bluff, and this is where the crowds developed.
Now fully into the flooding current on a Northwesterly breeze the fleet had long port tacks on the lee shore of Whidbey Island and short starboard tacks to the current line before flopping back onto port and searching for the next starboard boat coming off the beach. A hectic and body thrashing beat with the fear of running aground on one side, super negative current on the other with constant avoidance of collision in between, otherwise known in Scandahuvian as “Good Times!”
Boats began peeling off towards Marrowstone Island about half a mile from Bush Point and up until the point, one, then another, then a couple more peeled out of the crowds towards current relief and clear wind lanes up under Marrowstone Island. The winds weren’t as strong over there but the clear lanes were huge, the eddie was moving north at 2 knots in spots and most importantly it was the shortest way across Admiralty inlet. Needless to say that the boats that finished first on the day, the boats that put some serious time on the rest of the boats in their classes were on the Marrowstone side (along with the only single handed sailor in the fleet, Dan Wierman aboard his J/35 Great White). And none played this better than the big J/145 Jedi, starting last, working their way through the entire fleet of 107 boats and crossing the finish line first in Port Townsend with over 7 minutes to spare on the next boat to cross the line, William Weinstein’s Riptide 35 Terremoto.
The fleet then charged in across the finish line off the Point Hudson marina, dropped sails and meandered into one of the most perfectly orchestrated marina packing the sailors of the PNW have ever seen. Imagine an empty marina basin that normally berths 70 boats filling up in under 3 hours with 107 tired and elated double handed sailors and doing it all without incident. Well played STYC, your docking group deserves a big round of applause. With the last boat finishing less than 2 minutes from the 7pm time limit there was only a short pause before dinner at the Northwest Maritime Center, just a hop skip and jump from the docked boats. Dinner and libation, stories and laughter, awards and friendly ribbing and before anyone knew it the clock had ticked past 10pm and the now tired and food coma’d crowd of double handed sailors was down for the count, looking for a moments rest before the first start, just after 8am Sunday morning.
By dawn the bay was glassed over with just a ripple showing from the vast amounts of water moving North, out of Admiralty Inlet, into the straits of Juan De Fuca, exactly the opposite direction the fleet wants to go. By the first start the winds were building, pushing over 6 knots but the early boats had to deal with the current, still running strong after max ebb. Up under the North side of Marrowstone they went, slip along the north side of the lighthouse and then BAM, into the negative current they went. Simply going 10’ too far to the east and into the current meant you were assed out the back. If you turned just at the point, close enough to high five someone on the beach it paid big time and you were off to towards the south end of Marrowstone before even thinking about crossing the current to the halfway mark at Double Bluff.
The early boats had so much ebbing current to deal with they continued sailing south past the south end of Marrowstone almost halfway across the opening to Hood Canal before reaching up and putting their bow into the current in a valiant attempt to make it across the sound to the halfway point. Boats that had bailed off of Marrowstone early were swept back to Bush point before reaching the eddies along the eastern shore and squaring their pole back again for Double Bluff. By this point everyone had started, the winds were building from behind and fast boats were working through the fleet like nobody’s business.
First around the Double Bluff buoy was the Yankee 30 Moonshine then the Columbia 26 Tuesday followed by a few more of the early starters and everyone began reaching across the opening towards Point No Point – then the commercial traffic came through. First just a tug and tow, then a few minutes later a freighter, another tug and tow along with a big commercial fisher. Tough to deal with in light air, as things had dropped down to 4 or 5 knots, and against the current but the fleet split, either reaching up or gybing away, tactics dictated by commercial traffic, more good times!
Once across and around Point No Point the incoming tide finally began pushing in along the western shore, combined with the building breeze it was off to the races again, this time keeping right for the flooding current, not to stay in the eddies. By Apple Tree Point the Riptide 35 Terremoto slipped out into the lead and kept the peddle down as they went across downtown Kingston. But just behind them the new J/88 demo boat broke out of the pack and began pacing the Riptide across the sound in the now Northeasterly breeze and taking 2nd to finish a solid 9 and half minutes behind Terremoto but just 20 seconds in front of the Custom 40 Madrona. The First boat came across the finish line just after 2pm Sunday and the entire fleet finished before 4:30pm with tactical current driven decisions over the entire 30+ mile course. A true challenge for any boat racing crew and even a greater challenge for double handing – imagine racing with your spouse or kid! Truly a bonding experience for anyone that does this race, especially if one of the two remembered to bring along some advil.
Full results can be found at styc.org but here are the highlights; Class 1, single handed flying sails, was won by Dan Wierman aboard his J/35 Great White (he was the only single hander). Class 2, DH NFS, was dominated by the big blue J/145 Jedi, owned by John Tenneson, 2nd to the Beneteau 44.7 Bonni Jean and 3rd to the Davidson 40 Snook. Class 3, DH NFS, was won by the big beautiful S&S 53 Weatherly skippered by McDonough & Barron, 2nd to the beautiful Q Boat Grayling and 3rd to the little Hotfoot 27 Flashpoint. Class 4, DH FS, was won by William Weinsteins Riptide 35 Terremoto, 2nd to the Custom 40 Madrona and 3rd to the Farr 39 Tachyon. Class 5, DH FS, was won by Justin & Christina Wolfe aboard their J/120 Shearwater, 2nd to the Farr 30 Nefarious and 3rd to the Aerodyne 38 Kahuna.
Class 6, DH FS, was won by the well sailed Wauqueiz 40 Different Drummer owned by Charles Hill, 2nd to the J/36 Monkey Bones and 3rd to the Farr 1220 Kotuku. Class 7 the J/105 One Design Class, DH FS, was won by Erik Kristen’s #114 Jubilee, 2nd to Matthew Gardner-Browns #174 Dulcinea and 3rd to Henderson & Barber aboard #272 Delerium. Class 8, DH FS, was won by Sail Northwest demo boat, the new J/88 (she is available call Sail Northwest for a demo!), sailed by Bob Ross, 2nd to the Evelyn 32 Poke & Destroy, and 3rd to the J/35c Wildflower. Class 9, DH FS, was won by the Santa Cruz 33 Muffin sailed by Butler & Gibbs, 2nd to the Olson 911 Blue Martini and 3rd to the Olson 911 Kowloon. Class 10, DH FS, was won by the super slick J/27 LXIII, owned by Dennis Clark, 2nd to the J/27 True North and 3rd to the Wylie 31 Velella.
Class 11, DH FS, was won by the Islander 36 Whistling Swan, owned by Bill Pirrie, 2nd to the worlds fastest Catalina 36 Mata Hari, and 3rd to the Wylie 31 Velella. Class 12, DH FS, was won by the Moore 24 More Uff Da, owned by Jennifer & Ben Braden, 2nd to the Moore 24 Morphine, and 3rd to the Moore 24 Morosaurus. Class 13, DH FS, was won by those amazing sailors aboard the Evelyn 26 Nimbus, Mark Harang and Kathryn Burnette, 2nd to the Cal 31 Priorities and 3rd to the Ericson 32 Boadicea. Class 14, DH FS, was won by the world fastest Yankee 30 Moonshine owned by Kirk Fraser, 2nd to the S2 7.9 Arturo (she is for sale!) and 3rd to the Ranger 30 Jabez. Class 15, DH FS, was won by Mike Tunney aboard his Thunderbird 26 Cuatro Vientos, 2nd to the San Juan 28 Lady Too and 3rd to the San Juan 7.7 Rock Lobster. Class 16, DH FS, was won by the world’s fastest Columbia 26 Tuesday, owned by Darlene & Bill Stange, 2nd to the Perry 24 Bingo and 3rd to the Ranger 26 Rascal. Class 17, DH FS Multi-hull, was won by the Corsair F28-R Aliikai owned by Douggie B, 2nd to the Corsair F27 Escape.
17 different classes of boats, but wait, there’s more! First overall Double Handed Flying Sails went to William Weinstein and crew aboard their rippin Beiker designed Riptide 35 Terremoto. First overall Double Handed Non-Flying Sails went to John Tenneson and crew aboard the big beautiful blue carbon fiber J/145 Jedi. First Overall Double Handed Jack and Jill went to the father/daughter duo of Carl Buchan and Lindsay Bergan aboard the Custom 40 Madrona.
See you all next year – don’t forget to get yourself a nice picture from Jan Anderson!