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Scatchet Head Race Mayhem

by Kurt Hoehne

Yesterday’s blustery Scatchet Head Race left some indelible images, starting with Absolutely, getting rolled around by cross-seas, her mast nowhere to be seen. Another was of the Beneteau 45 Balance with her red spinnaker unimaginably shredded, caught and waving like three big separate battle flags from the forestay.

But there were so many more: Up to five boats could be seen in various states of broach or recovery; Farr 30s popping up on a plane holding with much larger boats downwind; Normally aggressive racers going for the chicken gybe (tack) instead of risking a bad gybe.

Click on any of the Jan Anderson photos below and enjoy all of them online here.

Double Take taking the Class 9 start
The Cal 40 Madrugador and Cal 39 Magic Button rolling downwind
Dos sending it
Absolutely and Buckle motoring back to Shilshole
The Absolutely crew were unphased
With Grace
Buckle Up after the break
Balance's right and truly destroyed spinnaker
Going Ballistic
Terremoto and Madrona's duel started early.
Bat out of Hell stayed on her side a while.
Absolutely was having a great leg 'til disaster hit.

But perhaps the most profound image was that of Bill Buchan’s Sachem, comfortably wing on wing with a poled out number three, efficiently making her way through the mayhem, waiting for her inevitable chance to shine on the beat to follow. Guess who won her class?

That the blow was coming, and would be building, was well known. While there were some gusts in the 30s, the wind was mostly a relentless high 20-something. But that didn’t stop most racers from giving it a go with their spinnakers. After a few wipeouts the chutes usually came down, and by the time the fleet reached the Scatchet Head buoy most skippers had long chosen efficiency over excitement.

The planing boats shined. Impressive performances on the leg north were put in by Terremoto, Madrona, True North, the diminutive Dos and the mighty Glory.

It was somewhat surprising that ebbing current didn’t flatten the seas more. The first part of the beat back to Seattle was in some truly angry waves, where the crew found out how good their foul weather gear, and their driver, was.

Absolutely’s mast broke in a gybe due to a missed running backstay. “The idiot skipper was going to do a chicken gybe,” reported skipper Charlie Macauley, “but decided not to. Buckle Up’s mast buckled in several pieces, and her skipper was injured (bleeding temple) somewhere in the process. Skip and Jan Anderson’s Photo Boat & Race Rescue Service escorted them home.

There was a report of a boat putting into Edmonds and several other boats, including Neptune’s Car, dropped out for a variety of reasons. Forty-eight boats finished and 14 dropped out, and a similar number decided not to start at all.

The IRC big boat class was once again dominated by Glory, which was nearly broke the 3 hour mark on elapsed time, more than half an hour ahead of the second finisher, Flash. Tom Huseby’s Double Take sailed a solid race to correct ahead of Flash and save her time on Artemis, which ended up fourth on corrected time.

In the overall PHRF standings, Class 8 dominated. Bill Weinstein’s Terremoto and Carl Buchan’s Madrona flew downwind and dueled upwind, and finished first and third respectively in class and fleet. The Shorett/Burzycki Farr 395 Ace stayed close enough to the pair correct ahead of Madrona by about a minute.

Bravo Zulu and Time Bandit fended off the Farr 30s in Class 7, and Sachem, Dos, Jubilee, Here and Now and True North all won their second race in the series.

All but two boats in Class 1 stayed home, and Three Ring Circus did not finish, leaving the 23,000 Freya 39 Freeflyte to complete the course for the win. In the process, she proved the sage racing wisdom that you have to finish to win. The final race of the series, Three Tree Point Race, will be held March 28.

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Andrew Jacobs March 25, 2015 - 17:20

Great shots and a nice re-cap. Thanks, Kurt!

Kurt Hoehne March 25, 2015 - 21:20

Thanks, Andrew. I was lucky enough to be aboard Double Take and had a pretty good view of the fleet. We passed about 4 boatlengths from Absolutely shortly after they lost their rig to see if they needed assistance, but got a resounding “We’re OK” thumbs up from Charlie’s crew.


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