Blakely Rock Benefit Post Race
Well, did anyone have a bad time? Maybe only the folks that forgot that the rock reef off of Wing Point doesn’t run in a straight line from the Point to the buoy. Details. Other than that it was pretty much as forecast. So what wasn’t as forecast? The first hint was that the baro was going up and kept going up until the race was almost over. The second hint was from the Doppler radar which showed the rain shield moving onshore however it was weak and kept breaking apart the further it came onshore.
The Northwest Yachting drones at 0600 hrs found it was light on the west shore of the Sound, dead behind Blakely Rock and dead behind Blake Island. As you left Shilshole the wind was from 137m to 150 m which was way more southeasterly than the south-southeasterly I was expecting. If you got out even a little early you did find that the “wheel” was out there and if you didn’t figure that out you could fall off of the “wheel” and find yourself behind those who stayed in tight to the Shilshole Breakwater. Those who tacked to port immediately off the start line may have gotten to Port Madison first however those who followed the plan and left from West Point were in much better shape. The other advantage to being out there early was you figured out that if you started near the pin and were able to hold height all the way to the Breakwater, you could tack into clear air and if your driver was aggressive and your main trimmer sensitive to keeping the boat on its feet, you could make West Point in one tack. Those who fell into dirty air and tried to foot on port tack ending up footing right off the “wheel.”.
These photos are part of Jan Anderson’s fantastic album here.
At West Point the tide was really rolling at just under a knot and it was here that if you had clear air you could lay the tell tales down and get away from that river. The next not-as-predicted was the gradual knock as you sailed across the Sound. What appeared to happen was the boats ahead were gradually being lifted up in front of you. The actual wind direction didn’t change, they just sailed out of the ebb and into a nice bit of positive water flowing south. The actual shift to the south=southwest didn’t happen until you were within 200 yards of Bainbridge. Then it paid to tack to starboard and find your lane of clear air. You also noticed that the boats that held too long on starboard got back into the ebb and out of the stronger puffs coming from the south-southwest. Once you could clear the entrance to Winslow it paid to take one more tack back into Bainbridge but only until you could tack to starboard and lay Blakely Rock.
At the Rock it seemed to pay to do the port pole set and run a little ways to the west before gybing to starboard. It worked for two reasons, the first being the puffs from the ssw were still there and the second being that a number of boats gybed immediately after rounding so if you stayed on port for just a bit longer, when you gybed you had clear air and in the puffs you could continue to work down. This allowed you to make West Point without having to gybe,
From West Pt to Meadow Pt it was take advantage of every puff and trim, trim, trim, to keep the boat at top speed. You also needed to start negotiating with the boats around you about room at the mark while making sure your boat was ready for the perfect rounding. Those who came in wide and out close to the mark made out. Then it was find your lane of clear air to the finish.
From Meadow Pt to the finish it seemed that the boats that went into the beach as far as they could at Meadow Pt and were able to tack to port in clear air could then sail only a very short distance south before tacking back to starboard to hit the beach about half way between Meadow Pt and the north end of the Shilshole Breakwater. Once you got to the beach you could tack to port and lay the committee boat end of the line which was favored.
Once again, the weather gods smiled on the Sloop as well they should have. It was yet another epic event that raised a lot of money and just about everybody had a great time. Congratulations to the Sloop and their Race Committee on a job very well done.