By Robin Roser
The days leading up to the February 16 2014 Winter Shaw Race had an ominous weather forecast of winds gusting to 50 knots. Strong fronts sweeping through our area every 24 hours had us all watching the weather closely. On the morning of the race there was a weak westerly blowing across the starting line in front of the Orcas Hotel. Ten minutes before the start there was more current than wind. As if on cue, when the starting cannon roared (and right on time thanks to Betsy Wareham and her OIYC race committee crew), the wind gods bestowed on the fleet a building southeasterly. With the Blind Bay side favored at the start Time Bandit and the Wild Rumpus had the early lead. Keeping Shaw Island to starboard everyone lugged their big genoas around the East and South side of Shaw in the building breeze. Once the fleet made the San Juan Channel the kites were hoist in 20-knots of pure joy. There was the obligatory “show your foils round up” by a yellow 27 footer (check out the video on the Shaw Island Winter Sailboat Race FB page – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzNGjU_-oIU). Those who sailed very close to the West side of Shaw Island stayed out of the big San Juan Channel current and made gains.
The winter Shaw races usually come down to getting through Wasp Passage cleanly. The wind can go from 3-knots on your nose to 25-knots on your beam in a nanosecond and it’s happened before where a helmsman or two have lost their grip on the tiller and fallen off the back of the boat. The key to playing the gusts up Wasp Passage is to be lucky and not auto tack. See video @ 15min. mark.
Time Bandit finished first and was able to save their time by a mere 5 seconds eking out a 1st place in Class A over 2nd place Chinook sailed by the very handsome Jimmaaaaa Roser. Class B saw Emoyeni, a well sailed Islander 30, beat Fiona who has won the event previously and is a local favorite.
The big story this year was the one design fleet where seven Santa Cruz 27s and one Hotfoot 27 filled out a competitive 27 foot division. Kicking ass and taking names was the Wild Rumpus girls team with skipper Stephanie Campbell Schwenk, Karen Munroe Rose, Laurie Gillmer, Katheryn Brunette and Tim Cleary. They were on fire putting 25 minutes between themselves and the last SC27 to capture first place in the One Design Fleet and 1st overall for the regatta. In second place was another yellow boat and local favorite Saltheart Foamfollower.
Everyone finished before the big wind set in with a 60 knot gust recorded at Smith Island @ 15:00hrs. Some brave souls elected to sail home after the regatta, others stayed and partied at the Orcas Hotel our sponsor for the regatta. Doug Tidwell and his two lovely daughters were on hand to serve up a wonderful dinner.