Weather wise we had a bit of everything this week as Spring kicked in yesterday morning which led to clearing and beautiful sunny afternoon even if it was a little chilly. Another beautiful day today with a perfect NNE breeze of 12-15 knots. Following the old rule of thumb, the first day that the ridge of high pressure starts to build over the Northwest is the day you will have the best breeze from the north. Now for the bad news, then every day after, the breeze drops and as you can see from the Surface Charts, the high will be roughly centered over Puget Sound. In other words it looks pretty much like light and variable breeze.
Then as you check the tidal current chart you’ll notice that we will be fighting the big ebb of the day until about 1600 hrs tomorrow afternoon. At West Point that means about a full knot of anti-water. In less than five knots of wind that means your VMC (velocity made course) is probably going to be three-four knots or less. Distance to Three Tree Point is about 14.5 miles…. You do the math. Basically take enough fuel to power home from Three Tree Point as CYC has been known to finish the race down there. On the other hand maybe CYC could look at the pressure gradient spread over the Northwest and set an alternative course within the Shilshole Basin.
So let’s say we are sailing south to TTP. The short course is down the East side of the Sound and in an east-southeasterly breeze you’ll want to use the back eddies behind the Points on that side, with caution as the breeze will be lighter in closer to the beach. Some folks will work over to the West side of the Sound however the tidal current coming out of Rich Passage and out of Colvos Passage combined with the extra distance sailed could prove costly.
Then again it worked last year to go over there and with the breeze expected to build slightly from the south over the course of the day it could pay again.
You could get down to the mark just in time for the tide to turn so you can fight the big flood of the day all the way back to the finish.
As with all Three Tree Point races it pays to know where you are on the Race Course at all times, keep your head out of the boat to watch not only the weather but also where your competition is going. You’ll start gathering your weather info before you leave house looking at West Point weather, the chart of pressure gradient versus wind strength, Washington State Ferry observations in the central Sound and what the actual pressure gradient is over the Northwest.
Put your sunblock on before you leave the house and make sure you have your good sunglasses.
On the boat have the light air sheets rigged and make sure you have your barber haulers set up for the headsail so you can move the lead outboard and forward quickly and easily. As far as tactics go, it will start getting light and shifty by about noon so don’t get too far into the corners of the course. Beyond that, be ready for anything.
Wish I had a better forecast for you however it is after all springtime in the Pacific Northwest.
See you out there.