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Southern Straits; Champagne Sailing and More Pix

by Kurt Hoehne

A lot of you checked in on our brief coverage of Southern Straits a few days ago. Here’s more thanks to Jason Vandergaag (story) and Dave Ford (photos). 


Orderly Southern Straits start with a beautiful backdrop.

Orderly Southern Straits start with a beautiful backdrop.

By Jason Vandergaag

Easter weekend means only one thing – another Southern Straits race will send a number of PNW sailors, and all their warmest clothes, on a challenging circuit of the Strait of Georgia. West Vancouver Yacht Club again succeeded in throwing a great event, while attracting a huge number of boats.

The three courses were changed up again this year. The Medium course grew to it’s longest distance yet at 106 miles, only just short of the long course distance at 122. Long course boats, after signing up for a gruelling second-leg trek from Halibut bank down to T10 marker, were granted a last minute repreive with the course being shorted to QA before sailing around Sangster island. The 53-mile short-course went round Entrance Island, Halibut bank, and home. The to medium course was a welcome change from the very reaching-intensive format of the last two years.

Friday morning offered beautiful sunny skies for the start, and a stronger than typical westerly breeze a bit over 12 knots made the usual boat-end shenanigans a bit more exciting than everyone expected. The long course boats got out with just a bit of fuss, and the medium course bought themselves a general recall on the first try. The small boats also got off mostly cleanly.

Click on any of Dave Ford’s photos to enlarge:

Orderly, with line sag.
A crowd at the boat end.
Interesting situation.
One of the five Melges 24s that competed on the inshore course.
The C&C 44 Turicum shortly after the start.
Orion, to leeward, finished 2nd on the medium course.
Bedlam II placed 6th overall on the medium course.
Carl and Carol Buchan's Madrona crossing ahead of Anduril.

Around lunch time the expected southerly shift came through and the fleet found themselves reaching and then running towards their first marks. Both sides of the course paid off, what really mattered was how quickly crews adapted.

The long course boats blazed around the course, with the leaders rounding every mark of the course in daylight. The longer boats were able to really stretch their legs after rounding Halibut Bank, and Neptune’s Car used her length and speed to win the long course.

The rest of the fleet was just happy to have decent southeasterly breeze through nearly the whole race.  As is often the case, the medium course race was decided in the final hours of the night. Some boats that had led early on were forced to wait out a nasty convergence zone at the mouth of Howe Sound, allowing smaller boats like the medium course-winning Davidson 29 MidSummer (skippered by race organizer Ty Abrams) to catch up and take top spot.

On the short course Frank Fletcher’s Laser 28 Voila sailed to a large win on handicap.

Eventually most of the fleet finished in a gusty, damp outflow screaming out of Howe Sound.  After an exciting final spinnaker takedown the later finishers zoomed across the line on a beam reach on the edge of control.

Whether it was this exciting finale, or just the all around consistency of the breeze this year, there were an awful lot of happy looking sailors on the safety inspection dock at the end of the race.  How many days until next Easter?

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