74 hearty boats and crews made the Dec 6th start off the slag pile near Ruston to compete in the second ever counter clockwise race around Vashon Island, the first installment in the 2014/2015 South Sound Sailing Series. It felt like a warm fall day out there compared to last year’s 24 degree temps and for all those that want a screamin’ deal on a Christmas tree or even several cords of wood, the Fall Vashon was for you – formerly regarded as Winter Vashon, I stand corrected by prominent members of Tacoma Yacht Club that winter doesn’t start till Dec 21st…:)
Back to the tree issue, apparently the recent king tides, northerly winds and extreme river runoff pulled everything imaginable off the shoreline and deposited it in Commencement bay. There was more driftwood afloat on the Southern Puget Sound than is standing in the forests nearby! The calls at the start line were interesting in the light air – “one boat length, boat to leeward, log ahead, don’t come up or you’ll catch the shrubbery!” Grass clippings, shrubbery, and a copious amount wood from stumps to deadheads – it was all out there, and fortunately for everyone the wind was so calm and the water so flat that it was easy to foresee these hazards and take evasive action.
The deliveries to TYC on Friday were pleasant and even a 6am start Saturday out of Des Moines was downright enjoyable, okay, a full thermos of hot coffee was helpful there… TYC made everyone feel welcome, as usual, with free moorage, dinner Friday night, use of the small boat hoist, friendly staff, and a hearty Saturday morning breakfast. The course was “innovative” this year with two virtual marks at the North end of Vashon. I’ve always felt Swiftsure Bank and for those that can remember back that far, the Cobb Seamount, were virtual as well, so for inland sailors to have a chance to round not only one but actually two virtual marks, a challenge to be certain.
The start was light, with just enough wind to get to the line and have steerage to dodge the debris. The forecast southerly was promising though and every time you got that little puff it was a header so spinnakers were the order of the day with the racing fleet chasing the burgeoning cruising fleet East across Commencement Bay. The tugboats must work hard on the weekends down here as two were required to plow through the start line and create a few delays. Small boats, that start first, seemed to have some advantage in these conditions because even as far into the race as the North end of Vashon Dennis Clark, in his J-27 LXIII, was still in the company of 40‘ers!
Pt Robinson was the first geography gate and those that were willing to play a little West in the light South westerly started slipping north to lead the charge into the stronger winds. It was obvious light is fast on December 6th and the ability to dump water ballast or just be plain slippery paid as the Riptide 35 Terremoto and the Sierra 26 Dos made it look so easy.
What a gorgeous day too, as Mt Tahoma (the original name for Mt. Rainier – Lushootseed meaning “mother of waters”) was clearly visible and you could identify the airliners by the paint on their tail every couple minutes rising out of SeaTac. Boats swapped gybes and pleasantries as they hull speeded their way north to the mysterious virtual gate. Which headsail to use? How windy is Colvos passage going to be? Discussions were required and the lead boats were visually inspected as they began to heel over on their way South into the passage. Where is my weather drone when I need it?
If you ever wanted to see what a boat can do upwind sailing well, this was your day. The G&S 1 Ton Absolutely, The J/133 Constellation and the Benetueau 40.7 Bravo Zulu were deadly as they stampeded South down Colvos passage under a heavy spread of canvas. The Cal 33 Cherokee, the J/N 42 Korina Korina, the Jeanneau 43DS Steamy Widows, and the Pearson 36 Koosah also mowed down the competition and proved if you put some fast rags on your boat or trim the sails properly and hike out success is in your future!
After correction the three boat IRC fleet was taken by the beautifully maintained (and for sale) Andrews 53 Artemis by over 12 minutes in front of the J/160 Jam leaving the big Santa Cruz 70 Neptune’s Car another 3 minutes back in third. 1st and last in the Multi-hull class went to the F32 Pax the Space Spider successfully taking their one boat class. Class 2 was dominated by the J/133 Constellation, owned by Ron Holbrook. Leaving the slick water ballasted Riptide 35 Terremoto 5 minutes back in 2nd and the sharp Far 39 Tachyon in third.
Class 3 was sailed away with by the G&S 1 Ton Absolutely, owned by Charley Macaulay. Not an easy task in a class of 5, count em‘, 5 J/35’s, 2 J/109s, 2 Beneteau 40.7’s, a Schock 35, a C&C 37/40 and 2 other IOR boats! All very capable and fast designs. Just behind Absolutely in second was the always well sailed J/109 Tantivy and the equally well sailed Beneteau 40.7 Bravo Zulu in third. Class 4 was once again taken by the slick little Sierra 26 Dos, owned by Brad Butler. Dos corrected almost 17 minutes in front of the 2nd place boat, the Soverell 33 Flim Flam leaving third to one of the West Sounds fastest J Boats the J/105 Dulcinea. Class 5 once again watched that beautifully maintained J/29 Slick, owned by Mayfield & Nelson, slip into first place in this always tight class. Less than a minute back in second was the classic Santa Cruz 33 Muffin followed just a few minutes back in third by the Davidson 29 Madame Pelle.
Almost taking the spread on the day was the amazingly rebuilt J/27 LXIII, owned by Dennis Clark – taking Class 6 by over 35 minutes! Behind them in second was the constantly well sailed Cal 33 Cherokee and the well traveled J/27 True North. Easily taking the spread on the day was the consistently dominant Evelyn 26 Nimbus owned by Mark Harang. Nimbus took first by over an hour and forty minutes ahead of the well sailed Cal 9.2 Falcon who finished over an hour in front of the Merit 25 Little White Rabbit, speaking to how much the wind died at the end of the day.
The Olson 30 Skookum, owned by George Brown, took the No Flying Sails Class by over 30 minutes in front of the Pearson 36 Koosah leaving the Choate 40 Phoenix another 25 minutes back in third. The Commodores Class, Cruising class with Spinnakers, was dominated by the Dufour 44 Integrity, owned by Skip Broadhead. Integrity finished almost 45 minutes in front of the fogged up portlights aboard the Jeanneau 43DS Steamy Windows leaving third to the Jeanneau SO42 Huzzah.
As the sun went down on the 2014 Winter Vashon so did the wind, the lights of TYC started to twinkle as the last few boats made the slow crawl to the finish watching their hopes of correcting out on the “Big Boys” slipping away again. A cup of holiday cheer and a warm bunk never sounded better as the sails were furled and hatches were battened down for a long winter’s night.
Call your local sailmaker and convince them there is no snow on them thar hills anyway so they may as well go sailing! Have them come out and critique you at Duwamish Head Jan 10th hosted by the very cordial Three Tree Point Yacht Club. See you on the water!
Andy Schwenk, Owner Northwest Rigging
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