Sloop Tavern YC Blakely Rock Benefit Race Report

Bruce Hedrick Sailboat Racing
Sea Lion calling the start.

Sea Lion calling the start.

NW Yachting Racing Editor Ben Braden with successful port tack start.

NW Yachting Racing Editor Ben Braden with successful port tack start.

You're kidding, right.

You’re kidding, right.

The Farr 30 Deep Pickle Boat surfing home

The Farr 30 Deep Pickle Boat surfing home

Delirium taking a hard left turn before winning her class.

Delirium taking a hard left turn before winning her class.

Bravo Zulu crossing behind Magic Button

Bravo Zulu crossing behind Magic Button

Tachyon

Tachyon

Sloop Tav BRBR 009I had a couple of requests to analyze the race and compare it to the data provided on Friday. All in all, it was pretty close and it was absolutely another great Sloop Tavern event. All photos by Lauri Turay. –BH

 

 

Tides

The predictions were very, very close in terms of general times and general velocities. There definitely was a wind generated surface current that did up the velocity of the ebb by almost .3 knot at West Point and the ebb did last almost 50 minutes longer than predicted. From observations on the water, those that aimed at West Point on the run from Blakely Rock saw a definite increase in the ebb velocity once they got within about ¾ mile of West Point. Those who stayed close to the Point benefitted from that bump. Those who went well outside of West Point were still in the ebb however not quite as much. Since that was where the wind started to build not a big difference but I’ll have more on that later.

The flood did start about on time at Meadow Point and was coming down the shore towards the finish. With the wind from the east-southeast once you held starboard tack into Meadow Point as close as you dared you could tack to port and sail to the starboard tack layline to the finish at the hamburger buoy. That meant two tacks to the finish and coming into the finish on starboard which was a tactical advantage as the fleet got bunched near the finish. Sometimes there is an advantage to tacking back into the beach just north of the entrance to the breakwater and then tacking on the port tack layline to the committee boat. That gets you out of the ebb from the Ship Canal however this last Saturday the flood pushed that ebb to the south. You could tell that if you were watching COG and SOG after leaving Meadow Point so as long as you had positive water pushing you to the finish there was no need for an extra tack, in handicap racing seconds count.

 

Wind and Tactics

This was close except that the velocity was clearly higher than forecast and the southerly kept the northerly from coming down by almost three hours. Regardless, you have to sail with the wind you got. The take away from Saturday was that even though there was a strong southwesterly component to the breeze, the local southeasterly effect on the east shore from Meadow Point to West Point was absolutely there right up until the northerly finally filled down. It paid to go up the breakwater, stay just outside the restricted zone and not tack back into the outfall from the Ship Canal but tacking back to starboard and going into the beach near the south hamburger buoy. You had to watch getting too close into the beach as the wind did go light if you went too far in. Once you were on port tack and holding inside the West Point Buoy it was time to hold port and head to Bainbridge. Those who left the east shore before West Point did not do as well. Those who tacked back to starboard at West Point and went into Elliott Bay got killed.

The long tack across the Sound was painful if you were the lead boat as you sailed into a constant knock. The guys behind looked lifted and faster and had you tacked back to starboard near mid-Sound you would have been behind. There is however a reason why we say foot for the headers and pinch for the lifts, be on the inside of every lift and outside of every header. If you were patient the knock came through as you got closer to Bainbridge. The interesting thing was so many people tacked early even though they were no where close to laying Blakely Rock. The problem may have been the big, sudden puffs that were headers as you came across the Sound. The deal is that these are puffs and not the steady, median wind, if you’re not laying the Rock get to the beach. The first reason might be to get out of the ebb tide however after the mid-channel mark as you went across the Sound the tide was neutral and as you got closer to Bainbridge there was some positive water flowing down the Sound and that’s what caused the exceptionally choppy conditions from Yeomalt Point south to just south of Eagle Harbor. Those who kept coming back to the beach progressively benefitted while being on starboard tack and if you aggressively steered to take advantage of those lifting puffs, it worked. The tactic that didn’t work was tacking to port once you could clear the reef at Wing Point going across the entrance to Eagle Harbor to take advantage of the ebb coming out of the harbor which flows south almost all the way to Blakely Rock. Those who went in there sailed extra distance while those who followed the COG and SOG and the layline to the Rock made out. You could really see that, if you were nervous, watching those folks hold port tack into that area however as soon as they tacked back to starboard you began to see that they were not in the same current and they ended up on your transom but much further behind.

At the Rock it was a tough bear away, port pole set however that got you out of the current and away from those keel hunting monsters that live just north of the Rock. Once you got just off the entrance of Eagle Harbor the median wind clocked enough that you had to gybe because that took you out into what was left of the ebb and aimed you right down the rhumb line for Meadow Point. As I said, you didn’t want to stray too far from that line and turned out to be very correct for three reasons.

The first was that it is the shortest distance you can sail. The second is that as you aimed towards West Point you kept getting lifting puffs which drove some folks to gybe back out into the Sound. The advantage was that if you held right to West Point you got that nice current boost coming out of Elliott Bay and that swept you west so you didn’t have to gybe. And lastly, if you held inside the buoy at West Point it also positioned you for that localized south-southeasterly that (remember it was there for the beat)  then shifted and built to an east southeasterly as you sailed north to Meadow Point. As that breeze built and backed those who were on the outside had control problems and couldn’t carry their kites. Those who stayed on the inside and worked up in the lulls were able to carry kites all the way to the mark and have a nice controlled drop and rounding.

We already covered the beat from Meadow Point to the finish in the tides section above.

 

The Predictions: 

As I said on Friday, my favorite part, let’s see what happened.

Class 1 NFS. Nailed it with the Catalina 30 Days Off winning and Blue Lullaby taking the bronze. The San Juan 24 Double Trouble should be congratulated for sailing a great race in what should have been difficult conditions for the SJ-24.

Class 2 NFS. Nailed it with Bill Pirrie winning by 7.5 minutes.

Class 3 NFS. Missed this one as Eye Candy apparently had some problems trying to figure out when to start.

Class 4 Flying Sails. Missed this one as Deception and Smola took a third and a fourth with the Cal 28 Outier taking the gold.

Class 5 FS. Scotch & Soda took second with Amoretto winning.

Class 6 FS. Nailed it with Airloom winning by 8.5 minutes.

Class 7 FS. Nailed it with More Uff Da, Little Blue Dune Buggy, More Cowbell, Three Ring Circus and Norn taking the top five places.

Class 8 FS. Pretty close with Kowloon and Rubicon taking second and third with the Pearson Flyer Tenacious winning.

Class 9 FS Nailed it with Beer and How winning.

Class 10 FS. Nailed it as the breeze wasn’t cranking on the run except for the last bit from the Ballard Blinker to Meadow Point so the J-105’s took the top three places with the Melges 24 taking a fourth.

Class 11 FS. Really nailed this one as DOS was an easy first to finish and easily corrected out 9.5 minutes ahead of the J-35 Tahlequah and took First Overall as well.

Class 12 FS. Missed this one as the breeze was on and while Bravo Zulu was winning at the Rock, the Farr 30’s surfed all the way to Meadow Point and took all the podium positions.

Class 13 FS. Nailed it as Terremoto sailed a great race.

The amazing DOS!

 The J-35 Tahlequah sailed against DOS and they will tell you that that is one amazing boat. Tahlequah led off the line from the start but really couldn’t shake DOS or the Centurion 40 Different Drummer until Tahlequah started tacking on them and forcing them into bad air from the other big boats coming up the course. Tahlequah rounded Blakely Rock about four minutes ahead and yet by Wing Point, DOS had just blown by Tahlequah and sailed off to finish seven minutes ahead boat for boat and 9.5 minutes ahead on corrected to take First in Class and eventually First Overall. They were also 5 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Second Overall More Uff Da.

Here’s what’s really amazing; these are the elapsed times for the fastest boats around the course:

Strider                         NM 55                                                2:04:53            6.51 knots

Jedi                              J-145                                                  2:07:49            6.36 knots

Tachyon                      Farr 39                                              2:09:37            6.28 knots

Terremoto                   Riptide 35                                         2:10:42            6.25 knots

Ace                                Farr 395                                            2:11:56            6.16 knots

Deep Pickle Boat       Farr 30                                              2:14:48            6.04 knots

Bat out of Hell            Farr 30                                             2:14:56            6.03 knots

DOS                             Sierra 26                                        2:15:33           6.00 knots

Nefarious                    Farr 30                                              2:17:08            5.93 knots

BravoZulu                   Bene 40.7                                          2:18.42            5.86 knots

Project Mayhem       Farr 30                                               2:20:48            5.77 knots

 

 

All this on a day with fairly steady breeze, fairly narrow lanes and most of the Fleet sailing pretty much the same course. Well done DOS!

 

As always the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club also deserves a big shout out as once again this was a stellar event, with great Race Committee work and great committee work overall.

Bruce Hedrick

Written by

Bruce has raced and cruised the Pacific Northwest his entire life. He earned a Bachelor's of Science from the University of Washington in Biological Oceanography and learned meteorology "to keep from getting kicked around on the race course." <a href="https://www.nwyachting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Brucekh.jpg"><img class="alignright wp-image-5597 size-medium" src="https://www.nwyachting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Brucekh-300x224.jpg" alt="Brucekh" width="300" height="224" /></a>Bruce spent nearly two decades as Associate Publisher for Northwest Yachting Magazine, retiring in mid-2015, and was the chairman of the board of trustees for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in 2014.

3 Comments

  1. Great stuff! Looking forward to more of these.

  2. Nice write-up! Really enjoyed the detailed on-course analysis. Pretty much pegged it, only bit I didn’t care for was the choice of boats in NFS 3…but you can’t be right all the time, can you? 🙂

    1. Well done Graeme! If I could be right all the time, I’d be forecasting
      something other than sailboat races! Thanks for the note and after your
      brief hiatus from racing after Pacific Cup, it was good to see the Kotuku
      back out there. -BH

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