It’s true, spring is just around the corner. Looking to the future and the upcoming, rapidly approaching, Seattle spring racing season can conjure a wide range of feelings depending on who you are. Whether you’re preparing a vessel, rebuilding a boat, or part of the organizing group hosting the events, there are always a lot of things that all must come together and every year, curve balls are thrown in the mix.
One of the big shake-ups for the 2022 season is a logistical one. The Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle is making a change in the (almost set in stone as of press time) spring racing schedule. For the first time in a long time, races are being spread out on the calendar more evenly across the season.
Traditionally, the Center Sound Series consumed most of the Saturdays in March, back-to-back-to-back. With the new changes, there will be a two-week gap between each race of the series, with Blakely Rocks on March 5, the second on March 19 (location to be determined, more on that below),and the third and final race not until April 2 (also TBD at press). Many Northwest sailors have come to jokingly refer to the month of March as “divorce month” thanks to the seemingly endless racing and talk of racing, which consume what normal people consider family time. This shift in the calendar is a direct response by Corinthian Yacht Club leadership to the feedback from the racing community requesting more of a focus on the overall enjoyment of sailing. Expectations are high that this shifted format will increase overall attendance in the series and ease some of the logistical challenges that consecutive racing weekends present.
Along with the new dates, there is also an accompanying change in the overall structure of racing on the water. For many years, the series was a set of pre-defined races to specific points around Puget Sound. In recent years, there has been a string of last-minute course changes and updates to allow for the best racing that can be held on the day. This year, the first race of the series will remain the time-honored Blakely Rocks Race, with the twenty-ish mile course being a terrific shakedown for crews coming off a winter of no sailing. But after that, we are going to see some new developments. Rather than a pre-defined course likely to change, racers should expect no pre-posted course and the race committee will determine the course on the day of the race, based on the expected conditions. This wait and see format is functionally what has been happening the past few years, but now it is clarified as part of the plan and even reflected by the name of each of the three events. For the sake of tradition, if the weather and conditions are appropriate, it is not out of the question that fleets will be sent on the traditional courses, but if there is fun racing to be had elsewhere in Puget Sound, then that’s where the fleets will be sent. The overarching goal is to maximize the quality of racing, based on whatever the conditions may be on race day.
Personally, I think this change is a good update to what has, honestly, become a somewhat predictable racing season and provides a very real opportunity for some balance in the life of a Seattle sailor in the spring. How it fits and works within the larger calendar and schedule remains to be seen, but without change there can’t be growth.
In addition to the newly rescheduled programming of the annual spring series, there is so much in store this summer as postponed events are rescheduled and major international events are being held for the first time in a long time. This summer of sailing is certain not to disappoint.