Stellar, Spectacular, this is why we do this, I can’t believe how nice it was – these comments and more rolled around the boisterous and smiling group of sailors gathered at the Anthony’s bar after participating in the first Snowbird Series race of the year, hosted by Shilshole Bay Yacht Club. Bookending a spectacular week of cool temperatures, sunny skies and strong Northerly winds, Saturday’s weather couldn’t have been much better.
“Are there really people crazy enough to race in this freezing weather? Hell ya!” laughs Lisa Cole sailing aboard the J/105 with the most race miles under their keel, Last Tango. With a forecast of 5 knots or less and temps in the 40’s the fleet was met with a building 12 to 14 knot northerly, sunny skies and temps in the mid 40‘s, but with the sun shining so hard it was easy to stay warm and enjoy the stellar views. One of those dry sunny winter days when the mountains seem so close that you can touch the little bit of white at their peaks. When the lighthouses stretch so tall that you think you’re just a few feet away from them and a day the lucky few that came out racing will be talking about for the next month as they await Snowbird Series Race #2 on December 13th.
18 boats registered for the first race of the series and the RC broke them up into a NFS class and three Flying Sails classes with remarkably good rating spreads for their Time on Time scoring. As with many of the smaller races over the year, SBYC is bringing out the sub 125 raters with even a class of raters from 153 to 204 in class B flying sails – a Moore, Pocket Rocket, Pearson Flyer, Ericson 35 & San Juan 28. Class C brought out an Olson 911, Q boat, Catalina 36, J/30 and a Jeanneau 36. Class D has a J/105, Farr 30, Beneteau 44.7, J/35 and a Wauquiez 42. Class A, the Non Flying sails has 3 boats entered – a Dufour 34, Cal 27-2 and a Ericson 32-2. 18 boats of amazingly different designs and eras out racing on an amazing PNW cool & crisp fall day.
A course area that starts off Shilshole Marina and took racers up to the always elusive Spring Beach spar buoy, back downwind to West Point, through the starting area and up to the NOAA weather buoy and back downwind through the finish was led off the line by the small class of Non-flying sails boats. As they headed out into the sound on starboard, class B lined up with Perfectly Strange hovering in that pin end position, the precursor to the always sought after port tack start. With the perfect left shift holding through the sequence they nailed it and crossed the fleet while looking back at the international sign of disapproval held high on some of the crossed boats. But their advantage quickly disappeared as the wind shifted back to the right and built on the outside leaving the little Pocket Rocket sailing in the middle of their fleet, losing the gains they made on the port tack start.
The final two starts rolled off the line without a hitch and a few tacks in and around Meadow point led the fleet into that long port tack up to the Spring Beach buoy. The Dufour 34, Frog Prints was charging north, out in the front after starting first in the NFS class, but sailing in that un-enviable position of having to be the first boat to find the little white spar buoy that so easily gets lost in the background. As the fleet was consistently lifted with the wind shifting to the NW, Frog Prints finally found and rounded the mark causing many to bump out a few inches on their jib sheets as they put their bows down a degree or two towards the first mark in the course.
Poles forward for the first few miles of the run with the waves almost big enough to surf, the wind almost strong enough to scoot, and those stellar views all around the boat. The further south the fleet sailed the more the wind shifted behind them and as they got within the last mile of West point the inside boats had the advantage sailing their hotter angle towards the mark. The Farr 30 Deep Pickle led the low road around the mark with the J/105 Last Tango hot on their tail and behind them Grayling took the mark super wide holding More Uff Da outside them before they finally turned leaving a huge open door for the Beneteau 44.7 Bonni Jean and the Olson 911 Kowloon to slip through tight and clean.
Deep Pickle kept legging out on the second upwind and they extended their lead by over 4 minutes in front of Last Tango at the shorter weather mark (the first NOAA buoy). Behind them Kowloon led the 5 boats in Class C with Grayling and Outlaw pushing hard up there transoms. In that mix was the Moore 24 More Uff Da holding off the hard charging Pearson Flyer Tenacious and the well sailed Pocket Rocket Perfectly Strange with the NFS boats falling back in the herd after the long downwind run from Spring beach.
Back to the finish everyone went after rounding the NOAA buoy with Deep Pickle leading the way finishing over 5 minutes in front of the J/105 Last Tango, but not far enough in front to hold their position after correction leaving Last Tango in first, Deep Pickle in second & Bonni Jean in third. Class C was led across the line by the Olson 911 Kowloon by over 4 minutes in front of the next boat in their class and were able to hold onto the win after correction. Second went to that old Q boat Grayling & third to the fastest Catalina 36 in the world Mata Hari. Class B was led across the line by the Moore 24 Moore Uff Da by almost 4 minutes in front of the Pearson Flyer Tenacious but the old Pearson didn’t have enough of a lead on the Pocket Rocket to hold onto second after correction and fell to third leaving second place to the boys on Perfectly Strange. Class A, NFS, was handily won by the Dufour 34 Frog Prints leaving second to the Cal 27 Backslider. Full results can be found at the Shilshole Bay Yacht Club website, as well as, entry forms for the December 13th race. See you on the water!