The milk runs of milk runs – the 2017 Sloop Tavern Yacht Club Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta – April 1st, 2017 and no foolin’ this was the milk run of all milk runs! 116 boats signed up to support The Sailing Foundation fundraiser and after all the starting horns were done waking up the liveaboards at Shilshole Marina 109 boats in 16 different classes crossed the start line on their way to the well-rounded and often bumped Blakely Rock off the south east end of Bainbridge Island.
Think about that for a second – 109 boats – put together a conservative average of 5 people per boat and you have almost 550 people out on the water participating in a fundraiser for a very well deserved organization that focuses on promoting the advancement of youth sailing and boating safety. Where else do you get together this many people having a good time raising money for a good cause outside of the local Elks lodge? Well done Sloop Tavern Yacht Club!
One of those milky grey mornings greeted the sailors as they made their way out to the starting area and true to form the all-volunteer STYC race committee set up an absolutely perfect port tack starting line. If you’re gonna do it, do it right eh? With very little chance to cross the line on starboard, even though boats kept trying, the place to be was at the committee boat, circling, waiting and then lining up for that easy, cross the fleet port tack start we all know and love.
Winds were light, in the bottom of the #1 range and with the south easterly angle if you could start at the committee boat and hold your lane you were able to sail right up into the lee of West Point before sticking your nose out into the strong ebbing current. The Creitz family aboard the Olson 25 Three Ring Circus from class 5 were one of the first boats to hold that high lane into the point. With the young and talented Dieter celebrating his 10th birthday at the helm they gave the upwind machine Avalon a run for their money on this drag race port tack line. Don’t kid yourself, we’d all rather dad drove the Olson so the rest of us had a chance – this kid is focused.
Behind them the 7 boat Moore 24 fleet lined up, circled the committee boat and squeezed through onto the course – More Uff Da winning the high lane with More Cowbell just behind them and quickly catching up, the light winds and their three person crew giving them the advantage. The high lane was still the way to go for Class 6. The low boats either stuck there nose into the ebbing current earlier and were in it longer or they had to tack to starboard on the low VMG angle with their nose into the wash coming out of the locks – pick your poison.
10 more classes rolled through the line after the little boats and cruising classes got out of the way. The big heavy “I have furniture below” boats in class 7, the 80’s ultra-lights in class 8, the performance cruisers of class 9, the super random super ultralight new and old designs of class 10, the competitive one design J/105 fleet in class 11, another random group of performance cruisers & a multihull in class 12, some of them there racer/cruisers and a multihull in class 13, modern 30+’ ultra-lights a multihull and a heavy but fast in class 14, a cadre of big racer/cruisers from multiple generations in class 15 and finally the big drag race boys – the smallest being the 2nd place boat from the race to Alaska. You name it, it was out racing and having fun on Saturday April 1st in true race what you brung, have a good time, STYC fashion.
Once around West point the winds built into the top of the number 1 range and boats with heavy crews began to take the advantage back and pull away from their competition. If you took the time to look up and west you noticed the clouds running a straight line towards downtown Seattle, no curving up the sound to suggest that westerly shift for all the boats that fought the low road battle. Time to take that low vmg tack to the east to line up for the starboard rounding of the rock.
The ferries rolled through the fleet with only a few boats needing to tack or duck around the big wind shadows and the first boat to stick their bow past the sand bar on the west end of the rock was, once again, Jim Marda’s Farr 395 Eye Candy sailing in class 3 non-flying sails. Now normally there is some sort of ground breaking action at this point in any race around Blakely rock but all I’ve heard about is 2 J boats in a collision and them retiring from the race – could it be we had a race around Blake Island where not one single boat hit the rock? Doubtful – someone is keeping that information close.
By now the sun is out, it’s blowing 10 to 12 out of the South east and as the spinnakers pop up the layers pop off and the milk run turns north for the long starboard pole drag race towards West point. Avalon, Three Ring Circus & More Uff Da led the charge of the flying sails into the early starters from the no-flying sails fleet and as they approached West Point the big fast drag race boats and modern speedsters had eaten up their lead and were hot and ready to run them by. Looking forward, though, the non-flying sails boats looked light and struggling – oh no, the convergence hole is setting up at Meadow point as the wind slowly begins its move to the afternoons forecast northeasterly shift.
Eye Candy got the first gun of the day while the fleet congregated near the turning mark at Meadow point, wind dying, current changing, spinnakers covering spinnakers, fleets covering fleets. It got messy and light. The beautiful and fast RP55 Crossfire, ensign streaming off the transom, simply rolled through the slowing fleet and rounded the mark just ahead of the almost as fast TP52 Smoke. Their tall rigs and low drag hulls giving them a huge advantage in the dying fickle breeze. Slowly, ever so slowly the masses made their way around the mark, sometimes 3 or 4 wide and scooted towards the finish off Shilshole with the current now helping them towards the line. Guns blaring, sometimes 3 in row as the first in each class crossed the line – what a day – wind, sun and friends all out having fun to support a worthy cause.
Class 1 non-flying sails was completely dominated by the Catalina 36 Sweet Sue II skippered by David Motter! 33 minutes in front of the 2nd place boat Boadicea, an Ericson 32-3. Class 2 non-flying sails was dominated by the Sabre 382 Skana II skippered by Philippe Lindheimer, correcting 17 minutes in front of the Catalina 42 Blue Fin. Class 3 was won by the Farr 395 Eye Candy owned by Jim Marda. First to finish and correcting 13 minutes in front of the second place boat Fortuna, a C&C 115.
Class 4 was handily won by the quick Shark 24 Fayaway owned by Gay Morris. Correcting 27 minutes in front of the 2nd place boat Rock Lobster a San Juan 7.7. Class 5 was a battle between Three Ring Circus, Avalon & Roshambo with the final win going to the Creitz family aboard the Olson 25 Three Ring Circus correcting just ahead of the well sails S2 7.9 Avalon. Class 6, Moore 24 One Design, was taken by #26 More Uff Da owned by Ben and Jennifer Braden. Finishing 10 minutes in front of the next boat in their class More Cowbell, #124.
Class 7 was dominated by those super experienced sailors aboard the Cal 33 Teaser, owned by Kirk Utter. Correcting 10 minutes in front of the 2nd place boat Cherokee, another Cal 33. Class 8 was the battle of the J/27’s with the beautiful and fast LXII owned by Dennis Clark taking the win by 2 minutes over the J/27 Wizard. Class 9 was taken by the Farr 1020 Kiwi Express owned by Reinhard Freywald. Correcting over 4 minutes in front of the J/29 Slick. Class 10 had the entire fleet of Sierra 26’s battling it out for first place with the old guy Paul Faget taking the win aboard Dos, finishing just 2 minutes in front of the Sierra 26 Uno. Class 11, the J/105 One Design class, was easily taken by #89 Moose Unknown, owned by John Aitchison. Finishing 6 minutes behind them in second was #475 Corvo105.
Class 12 had the smack down handed to them by the Wauqueiz 40s Different Drummer owned by Charles Hill. Finishing almost half an hour in front of the second place boat Helios, a Beneteau 36.7. Class 13 was won by the C&C 115 Elusive, owned by Jeff Whitney. 2+ minutes back in 2nd was the J/35 Tahlequah, a J/35. Class 14 was the battle of the Flying Tigers with the win going to Tigger, owned by Cody Pinion. 5 minutes back in 2nd was the Flying Tiger 10m Anarchy. Class 15 was won by the slick and beautiful J/122 Grace, owned by Andy and Jaime Mack. 2 minutes back in second was “I can be yours” Farr 39 cruiser/race Tachyon. Class 16 and huge battle going on, and not just because of the size of the boats, between the RP55 Crossfire and the TP52 Smoke with the ultimate win (and first overall), by just 38 seconds after correction, going to the RP 55 Crossfire, owned by Lou Bianco.
Full results can be found at STYC.org and you can find some amazing pictures online by a multitude of photographers.
Sean Trew – on Facebook
Jan Anderson – https://janpix.smugmug.com/
Michelle Neville – https://shellpix.smugmug.com/Sports/Sailing/