Andy Schwenk looks into his crystal ball. Got some of your own? Share them in “Leave a Comment” below. Watch for Bruce Hedrick’s weather and tactical outlook for this year’s RTC on Friday. Here’s Andy:
By Andy Schwenk
Ben Braden’s latest series of articles guessing the results in popular local regattas have proved entertaining – So much so I thought I would try it myself. What could possibly go wrong? In the case of Round the County, coming up November 8th & 9th we have 100 boats, probably 750 local sailors all out for a good time and looking to do well. Then there is me trying to make a living in the marine industry getting ready to choose 24 winners….
I believe this to be the 27th edition of this battle against the elements and besides a few years in the military I don’t think I’ve missed one. For 2014 the crew at OIYC has put in a new twist and added another class to bring the total to 8. Covering 34 miles a day with 8 classes should give everyone a chance to get out in front and show the people they just passed exactly where not to go. Saturday the start is at the North end of Blakely Island and travels South through Rosario Strait then West up the side of San Juan Island to finish at Roche Harbor. They hold the times overnight and then start north from Roche Harbor around Stuart Island, up Boundary Pass, leaving Patos and everything else to starboard finishing again at Lydia Shoal buoy on the North end of Blakely. The finish time is 6pm each day so even if you finish in the dark you aren’t out all night (remember it’s dark at 4:30pm now days).
The local big boat fleet is sailing IRC these days and I must say I miss the chance competing against them on some level. Hopefully soon the PHRF czars will devise a way to address their concerns and we can welcome them back or maybe the other way around. I’ve seen what the TP-52’s are capable of with my own eyes at Big Boat Series in San Francisco and I will give Glory the edge over Valkyrie in the race around the islands. In the battle for third in the IRC class waterline can be the key and I will give the gang aboard the Santa Cruz 70 Neptune’s Car the edge over the J/145 Double Take.
I’ve seen more hulls out of the water in this race than any other, mostly when rounding Davidson Rock against the current in a stiff breeze and most of these hulls belonged to the multihull division. How can anyone bet against F40 Dragonfly? Likely the most successful multihull in the PNW since the mighty CHAAK took up residency on the hard at CSR. Second may be F28r Alii Kai and I like F31r Blue Lightning for 3rd.
The PHRF big boats feature the Paul Bieker designed Riptide 35 MKII Longboard, the water ballasted rocket-ship built right here in Anacortes, Washington by Jim Betts, trying to hold off another A-town boat Teddy Bear, the classic Davidson 40, with at least 3 generations on board and probably all can sail around the islands blindfolded. The battle for the bronze would likely see the old Paul Bieker designed Riptide 35 MKI Terremoto and Carl Buchan’s Custom 40 Madrona.
Div 1 has a host of Beneteaus, 6 40.7’s and a 45.5. The Vic/Maui fleet two years ago had 10 of 14 boats all Beneteau, even one with my wife aboard. But I’m still not convinced – there is nothing like a J-120 and a bit of breeze. Time Bandit, J/120, won this class some years ago even without her main and I think she’ll take it again in 2014. Zulu, a Jesperson 42, is a weapon on a reach and the J/109 Tantivy, another well sailed boat (forgoing her skipper’s annual jaunt to Mexico) will hang on for third.
Div II is the largest and most diverse class and I will bet on my Grand Prix ride Vitesse, the Beneteau 36.7, to continue her winning ways. Kotuku, the Farr 1220, is always tough and excels in breeze with Different Drummer, a Waiquiez 40, keeping up the beat in third.
The Santa Cruz 33 Muffin has been on a tear the last few years and carried me safely to Hawaii and back in 1982 so why not a win in Division III? Second will be the Davidson 29 Madam Pele, another Davidson design that can win in light or heavy conditions followed on the podium by the J/105 Last Tango especially if it’s windy.
In Div IV I will predict a J-boat festival, but only if the Here and Now pirates on the loud black J/29 can get to the start line on time. The J/30 Celebration is bringing in the rock star crew and J/92 Hijinks is set if the wind blows, if it doesn’t then the S2 9.1 Flying Circus is in.
The little boats that get to start first and lead the way are featuring the Santa Cruz 27 extravaganza bookended by several tons of lead. There is one other, and that’s my ride, the Express 27 Thumper and of course I’m not betting against me and my college pals…and well can I just say a SC27 will get 2nd? If pressed I’ve got to go with my first wife and her wonderful people on Wild Rumpus, the wily Dave Garman on Giant Slayer is a solid choice and Blade Runner won last year so there you go.