One Cat Finishes Full Northern Century, with Fun for All at Start and Finish
The Northern Century Regatta hosted by Anacortes Yacht Club August 21st-23rd will be better remembered for the terrific sunsets created by the fires in the east than a steady breeze. Nonetheless, a catamaran from California kept up the fire theme by scorching the 100-mile course and being the only vessel to complete the entire circuit.
The high-tech Marstrom 32 catamaran can fly away on a fairy’s fart, and local sailing guru Colin Dunphy was aboard to help Randy Miller sail Orinda in Northwest waters. The team proved what Elsie Piddick did earlier this year at R2AK, that is that a well sailed multihull with a determined crew on a course that allows them to stretch their legs is tough to beat. Meanwhile, the rest of the mortals aboard the other 37 vessels enjoyed whales, sunshine, fluky wind and plenty of current.
Photos by Steve Wolff. Click on any photo to enlarge or open slide show.
It all started out Friday night with sailing videos, spaghetti and plenty of lively conversation.The Canadians showed up in force along with local luminaries from Orcas Island, Everett and Seattle. Even the “bad boys” aboard Kahuna showed up from Tacoma. Cap Sante Marina has concerts every Friday night, which along with a parade created a festive pre-race atmosphere. The start was at 1930 off the tanker docks in Fidalgo Bay. The DH division had a 10 minute head start.
It was spinnaker sprint across to Huckleberry Island with the classic tactical conundrum of whether to shoot the gap between Guemes or stay wide by Hat Island. Three brave or misinformed vessels chose to slip out Guemes Channel instead which has paid big in past years. I can tell you from firsthand experience, not so much this year. The fleet ranged north in light breezes, with music and laughter washing across the smooth surface of the Salish Sea.
As can be imagined the “fun” crews on Friday night became the sleepy and groggy crews on Saturday morning. Fortunately for them, conditions were epic for napping and recovering all day Saturday. Not to be forgotten is the Nifty Fifty course to Alden Bank and back this year, which was decided by less than 10 minutes between the two finishers. Wayne Lytle’s Catalina 27 Peacekeeper slipped down Bellingham Channel to ace out Murray Swayze’s Prime at the finish. Prime had been swept west past the finish line into Rosario Strait and was sneaking back up the beach near Washington Park.
As the fleet approached Pt Roberts the wind actually settled in for awhile and crews arriving and leaving swapped high fives and photographs. Then night approached and nature’s television lit up across the western horizon. The halfway gate was introduced at the north end of Patos Island this year. Rumor has it that this decision was influenced by Round the County veterans who figured if it is good enough for Betsy and Bob and the Orcas crew, why not share the good idea?
As the song goes, it’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning. This Sunday morning found the fleet variously anchored at Sucia, getting towed to West Sound or moored in Friday Harbor. Some were still crunching numbers to determine if a finish was possible without defying the laws of physics. By Sunday evening the boats were on trailers or in their slips. There were chili dogs and snacks at the Anacortes YC clubhouse as pre-race bets were settled. Some of the bets went double or nothing for the PITCH regatta on Labor Day weekend.
Trophies were awarded for the halfway times, and a few sailors decided to cut their coveted “100” sticker in half before application to their hull.