Great breeze and three weekends in a row! Over 30 knots for Scatchet Head, 20’s the next weekend for the Islands race and in the 30’s for the final Snowbird off Shilshole and then finishing off the Center Sound Series with upper teens and low 20’s for the Three Tree Point race. What an incredible spring to be out racing sailboats on Puget Sound! A race the fleet generally worries about simply making it to the mark down in the East Passage off the south side of Three Tree Point everyone was pleasantly surprised the CYC race committee wasn’t seen motoring by them to shorten the course at the halfway mark.
Those old Norse jokers, those pesky wind Gods, had some fun with the fleet and things didn’t play out as predicted. By the time classes 5 and 6 had finished their beat through Shilshole bay and approached West Point the first big westerly shift blew across the sound. If you had been working up the favored inside by the breakwater you quickly found yourself bow down, aimed at Skiff point, and your competition on the outside simply tacking over to starboard, easily crossing your bow, hero to zero on one simple shift.
A few minutes’ later things were back to the SSE breeze everyone had found at the start but what this told a select few was that the wind was going to really go west as they approached the south end of Bainbridge Island and they better get their booties over there to the west and take advantage of it. “From a line drawn due west from West Point to a line drawn due east from Restoration Point you had to play the shifts as they came through,” reports Bruce Hedrick in his NWYachting.com blog. “It didn’t work to try and get over to the west if you were sailing away from the mark. The reason was that the puffs from the WSW came in and worked their way across the Sound. So if you were sailing on port tack you needed to tack and sail south immediately. When the puff rolled through and you were headed on starboard you needed to tack back to port to get back in phase with the shifts. You headed west again until the next WSW puff came and then you tacked to starboard to find yourself high of the mark at TTP. Once you got through the transition zone into the area off of Rich Passage and the north end of Blake Island the breeze stayed out of the SW to WSW direction and it was time to hook up the barber hauler and start reaching holding a course about 10° high of TTP.”
The Sierra 26 Dos, with the J/88 demo boat just below them, hit the west side hard, tacking on the puffs as they rolled through. It was painful to watch the east side fleet working towards the mark with a better looking VMG, so painful Ian Bezwick, skippering the Sierra 26, was seen standing up at the helm looking all over in that confused tactician/skipper pose. Which reminds me of something Master Bezwick told me years ago, “It’s not a flyer if it’s the right way to go.” And man was going west NOT a flyer, even though there were only 2 little boats from class 5 and three or four other 35 to 40’ers following them across toward Eagle harbor. Once they reached the area off the mouth of Eagle Harbor and tacked over to starboard it was off to the races, the west boats never tacked again and even began cracking off their sheets and slamming down the throttle as they jib reached towards Three Tree Point.
Below them, as they crossed the entrance to Colvos Passage, the monster trucks began working through the fleet to leeward. The big old pride and joy of the chicken coup, the SC70 Neptunes Car, was having a stellar beat with the long starboard tacks and was holding pace with the modern quick TP52 coming into the mark neck and neck. Chutes set after rolling around the point the two big spinnakers were pulling hard, bows went up and they took off in the puffs, the TP52 just a few knots faster and began pulling away from the big grey Santa Cruz 70.
As the east side boats began tacking up around Three Tree Point the small group that worked down the west side of the Eastern Passage came screaming in with a J/120 passing the Sierra 26 on the reach and rounding first for the west side group. A few of the faster boats that sailed the eastern course snuck in with the group, a J/145, a couple Farr 39’s and then the J/88, J/35 and Soverel 33 finished the west side rounding and the mark was left to the crowds that were tacking around Three Tree Point and readying themselves for the tight 15km port reach to the finish.
And tight it was with the westerly breeze. Perfect angles for the Asym boats and at one point the Riptide 35 Terremoto was absolutely lit up, on the step, looking exactly like a giant I14 flying through the fleet like a dinghy on a keel boat course. Then just behind them the Sierra 26, that had dropped their chute and reached west under jib for a “safer” angle of sail, popped their little white chute up and were almost pacing the quick Riptide down the middle of the sound.
It’s now absolutely beautiful out, not a cloud in the sky; winds are gusting over 20, mountains showing all around and even a few good wipeout/roundup action shots to watch in the fleet around you. The J/88 and Farr 30 Patricia battled it out surfing and planning along on the low road, the J/105 one design fleet was flying along behind them, rounding up, hanging on and running it out in the puffs. The Asym set up had the advantage, running the shorter course to Alki and across towards West Point, but wouldn’t you know it, the winds were still Southerly towards the finish and as the Sym boats began squaring off and the Asym’s began reaching up the advantage switched. Patricia then slipped right by the J/88 they had been slowing realing in on the long reach and charged towards the finish on the shorter course.
Once again the TP 52 Glory took the fleet and finished first, in just 3.5 hours, and easily took the win in the IRC fleet. “Glory was so far ahead we couldn’t tell if she was able to carry the kite as the wind went around to 220° to 230° and built to just over 20-knots,” said Hedrick. “In those conditions she had to be just flying.” Hedrick goes on to say, in his NWYachting.com blog; “In the PHRF fleet it was the wickedly fast Terremoto that had the best elapsed time of 4.18 hours averaging 7.07 knots around the course and using that water ballast to advantage on the reach home. This also gave Terremoto the overall win in the Series. Overall winner in PHRF corrected time in the TTP Race and second overall for the Series was the Sierra 26 Dos which corrected out on the second overall boat, the Sail Northwest J-88 demo boat, by exactly five minutes on corrected time. This was interesting because the J-88 was able to carry their kite all the way to the finish while Dos decided to not risk another capsize and took their kite down so they could reach up and get back out into the middle of the Sound before setting the kite again so they had room to sail off in the puffs. Even with sailing that extra distance Dos still averaged 6.6 knots around the course and had a faster elapsed time than some much larger boats. As an example, first place in Division Six went to the C&C 115 Elusive who could only average 6.49 knots around the course.”
It was a play the angles and catch the changes kind of day, and each boat excels at a slightly different angle. Full results can be found at cycseattle.org, but here are the podium finishes. Class 1 was easily sailed away with by Nate Crietz, his family and friends, aboard the Olson 25 Three Ring Circus. Correcting some 20 minutes behind was the Thunderbird 26 Havoc followed another 18 minutes back for third was the Freya 39 Freeflyte. Class 2 was taken by the Classic Cal 33 Cherokee, owned by Peter Stewart. Correcting just over 4 minutes in front of the J/27 True North and leaving third to Moore 24 Morphine. Class 3 was barely won after correction by Reinhard Freywald’s Farr 1020 Kiwi Express. Correcting just 8 seconds in front of the well sailed J/29 Here & Now leaving third to the Olson 911 Kowloon. Class 4, the J/105 class, was sailed away with by Jerry Diercks and crew aboard #272 Delerium. Finishing second, some 9 minutes back was #475 Usawi leaving third to #114 Jubilee.
Class 5 was absolutely dominated from West point on, up around the mark and back by the little Sierra 26 Dos, owned by Brad Butler (and first overall corrected time on the day). Leaving second (and second overall corrected on the day), exactly 5 minutes back, to Sail Northwest’s J/88 Demo boat and third to the big quick Wauquiez 40 Different Drummer. Class 6 was taken by the C&C 115 Elusive, owned by Jeff Whitney. Leaving the J/35 Tahlequah less than 2 minutes back in second and third to Commodore Burnell’s J/109 Tantivy. Class 7 had a tight battle going with the big boys duking it out correcting just seconds apart. In the end Denny Vaughn and crew aboard the Beneteau 40.7 took the win by just 7 seconds over the J/120 Time Bandit leaving third to the J/120 with Grace.
Class 8 was sailed away with by the rippin’ dinghy-like Riptide 35 Terremoto owned by William Weinstein. Correcting just over 3 minutes in front of the Corsair 31R Freda Mae leaving third to the Farr 395 Ace. Class 9 was once again taken by the start in front, stay in front TP 52 Glory, owned by John Buchan. Correcting in the IRC fleet to just over 3 minutes in front of the Ker 46 New Haven leaving the Andrews 53 Artemis another minute back in third.
Again, full results of the Fisheries Supply presents CYC Seattle Center Sound Series can be found at cycseattle.org and more of Jan Anderson’s great photos can be found purchase at janpix.smugmug.com.