I think we probably all knew that after all this great racing with sunshine and breeze we were going to have to pay the piper at some point. The bad news: rain. The good news: BREEZE! All caps on purpose. It looks this will be a fairly quick frontal passage with a southeasterly in the starting area becoming a building due southerly as you work your way north to the mark. So be prepared before you leave the dock in the morning with the crew all in pfd’s, safety harnesses, and tethers, with the jacklines rigged and in place. Dos may want to make reservations with Jan and Skip on the photo boat.
Next think about which headsail you’ll want to use for the beat back from Scatchet Head because that’s the headsail you’ll want to use in the starting area for this downwind start. Next anticipate that since the breeze is going to build as you sail north, where you will want to do your final gybe into the top mark.
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The tide will just have started to ebb in the starting the area so don’t get caught below the line trying to beat back up with a tide trying to push you to north and your entire fleet reaching over the top of you giving you a massive dose of dirty air.
You will probably hold the starboard gybe off the line until about halfway to the Richmond oil docks where the breeze will start to clock and lift you. That’s when to gybe to port and work your way back to the center of the Sound. Between the oil docks and the Edmonds Ferry Dock you’ll probably want to gybe back to starboard. You’ll hold starboard until you can gybe back to a layline that is east of the Scatchet Head mark. Why, because the ebb tide will have shifted from pushing you towards the mark to pushing you to west and past the mark. The ebb will probably be flowing at 1 to 1.5 knots flowing due west as you approach the mark. Another possibility is that if it is really cranking as you sail north and you don’t feel particularly comfortable about gybing, sail past that layline and then drop the kite behind the headsail, get everything under control and then do the gybe. This way you’ll have plenty of time to get your fast settings for the beat before you get to the mark.
You’ll probably round and come up on to a port tack. Only hold this for about 100 yards at the most before you tack back to starboard and get to the Edmonds shore. The ebb is going to last most of the day so going to the west would mean having to cross the ebb twice to get to the finish. Going to the east has two advantages. The first being that after you get off the bank and you can start to see north into Possession Sound you’ll begin to get the advantage of the ebb flowing south out of Possession. The water will also get flatter and there will be a very localized south-southeasterly along that beach which will allow you to hold port tack as sail roughly parallel to shore north of the Edmonds Ferry Dock. The breeze may also lighten as you get in closer to the beach. Watch your cog and sog on port and when you get back out into anti-water, tack back to starboard and go back into the beach.
As you beat past the Ferry dock, the breeze will once again stay out of the due south and you’ll be in the teeth of the max ebb which will occur between 1400 and 1500 however it will be about .3 knot less on the east shore than if you were fighting it on the west shore of the Sound. Remember also that from Edmonds south to Point Wells there is a very shallow area that goes out quite a ways so watch the sounder. The same as you go from Point Wells to Richmond Beach. South of there it will be a matter of finding lanes of clear air, working the beach and spending too much time out in the ebb.
As you come up the beach and get closer to the finish off of Meadow Point don’t go so far in that you overstand the finish. It’s ok to tack to port to come off the beach with some in the bank because the ebb will push you below the layline and you probably don’t want to have to tack back to starboard to get to the finish.
You should also notice that by around 1500-1600 hrs the breeze will start to drop significantly and back to the east. So if you’re coming off the west side of the Sound this could be painful. For sure you will want to have finished by about 1700 hrs.
Be safe and have a great race.