Once again we’re lucky to have Ryan Helling of Swiftsure Yachts report in from his adventures, this time from the Race to the Straits last weekend. Ryan and his wife Autumn raced their home, the Wylie 31 Velella, to a third place in Class 11.
By Ryan Helling
Race to the Straits is absolutely my favorite race of the year. I have lost track of how many other sailors I’ve heard make this statement and I can’t agree more.
This was the 14th year of Sloop Tavern Yacht Club’s Race to the Straits and it has become one of the largest events on Puget Sound with over a hundred boats on the start line. The fleet ranged from the classic Q Boat Grayling to the J/145 Jedi and a smattering of boats of all shapes and sizes. The competition is at a high level, however there is a “bring what you got” attitude that is severely lacking in other events, with kid boats, liveaboards and classic plastics mixing it up with hot race boats and names like Carl Buchan and Dennis Clark. I think STYC has the perfect formula for this race – the shorthanded aspect makes it easy to get off the dock for a weekend of racing, the course is challenging and beautiful and everyone arrives in a great raft up at Point Hudson Saturday night with a superb party.
With sun and a steady Northerly breeze, boats crossed the line at Shilshole one by one in pursuit style Saturday morning. Early starters had the advantage of a bit of ebb but everyone eventually faced the incoming tide. With our number two headsail we had some tiring short-tacking up the Whidbey side past the half way gate at Double Bluff. Those who called the cross to the relief Marrowstone shore the best were the winners of the day. Sunday began light with the challenge of bucking a strong ebb. We executed a great rounding at Marrowstone point and did our best to hold off faster boats down the West side. As the breeze filled in and the current waned, the fleet compressed and it was a charge for the hamburger with some very close finish times. A great weekend, I’ll be back.