Congratulations to Olympia YC and the South Sound Sailing Society for what was, by all accounts, a memorable event. Visit the SSSS clubhouse here for links to many more photos and full results. We borrowed Dave Knowlton’s report to run here. -KH
A complete race!!! It does not happen every year, but this was the year!! Every racer completed the entire race, except one NFS Cruising Class boat. Most before dark!
Prior to the race there was apprehension that several boats would not be able to get out of their slips in Swawntown Marina. There was up to two-inches of ice … the layer of fresh water over the salt water. The Marina staff instructed Steve Movius, a Swawntown employee, to use the Port skiff to run up and down the fairways and break the ice. At least five boats moved out to the guest dock moorage a day or so early to ensure they could make it to the starting line!! After Steve made his runs Saturday morning, all the boats made it out.
For all of the Southern Sound Series races, the delivery is often the hardest or sometime most interesting. Last December Josh and Greg Larson were lowering their Olson 30,Lunchbox, into the water at the Tacoma Yacht Club in preparation for Winter Vashon. The lifting eye in the boat broke/came loose and the boat crashed into the water at low tide. The keel hit the rocks at the bottom and cracked the boat throughout. A total loss. They did locate another Olson 30 in Gig Harbor, Dire Straits, and were able to race the Toliva Shoal Race. This event reminded Mike and Brad Jones, owners of Sidewinder, another Olson 30, to check their lifting eye, before launch. Sure enough, they found ice in their bilge that would not allow the eye to be screwed on completely! Some hot water solved the issue and they also were able to race Toliva Shoal.
The race started as a drifter, which the weather forecast had predicted. The cruising classes were milling around the start with no wind and some putting up their drifters. Norm Smit, the Principal Race Officer, had the warning gun sound off at 0925 as per the sailing instructions. Five minutes later several had drifted over the starting line. The wind line was starting to fill in from the northeast, and Norm wisely decided to have a restart. Five minutes later the race was on!
The wind came from the northeast most of the race. It varied between 8 and 15 knots which allowed all to sail their best. Racers had to beat to Johnson Point. The PHRF boats started passing the cruising boats on the reach from Johnson Point to the McAlister Creek buoy. Boy, does a spinnaker make a boat go fast! It was another beat to the Toliva Shoal Buoy, then the run home! The current was ebbing, but the wind allowed all to get through the tidal gates in Balch and Dana Passages.
Upon rounding the lighthouse at Boston Harbor, the mountains in the distance started disappearing! SNOW! At first it was just cold sleet, then it turned to cold snow. It was coming down rather sideways! The committee boat at the Olympia Shoal had a great spotlight to help the finishers. Taking the sails down in the wind and snow was a challenge, and upon completion, you had to rely on your chart plotter to get back to Olympia. It was a white-out only in the dark! Some boats had elected to return up north; the only way we were able to see Jam was with our AIS; the radar screen was cluttered from the snow! When Koosah arrived back at her Swawntown dock there was still some ice in the fairway and four inches of snow on the docks!
The registration and score keeping was accomplished by Susan McRae using the US Sailing Regatta Network. This is the first time the Southern Sound Series has used the program and racers and scorers have stated they like it. Skippers can pay on line with a credit card, can see who else has registered prior to the race, and the results are posted a very short time after the race.
As always, the food prepared by Thera Black and Suzie Shaffer and their crew was outstanding. The party with the free beer obtained by Thom Abbot from the Fish Tail Brew Pub was enjoyed by all. All kegs were emptied! Thank you Fish Tail!
The 2013-2014 Southern Sound Series has provided racers with a variety of sailing conditions: Winter Vashon lots of wind, ice and cold; Duwamish Head too much wind to start the race; and now Toliva Shoal with the ice, drifting conditions, then wind, and finally snow! What will the Island Race have in store for us?? Well, you will just have to travel to Gig Harbor on March 15 when the Gig Harbor Yacht Club sponsors the race! (It has snowed on this race before!)
Dave Knowlton, Koosah