While hundreds of sailors converged upon the sleepy city of Des Moines for the ill fated Duwamish Head race and hundreds of thousands of PNW Seahawk fans prepared for a dominating win over the Panthers a small group of a hundred or so sailors gathered off of Shilshole Marina on 20 different boats for race #3 in the Shilshole Bay Yacht Club’s Snowbird Series. Only 20 boats with the major competing events but 20 boats that enjoyed another stellar winter race off of Shilshole Marina with grey skies and 4 to 9 knots of breeze.
The waters had that grey/green milky color from all the fresh water pouring out of the locks, and with it some crazy currents on what was supposed to be a steadily ebbing tide. The fleets started with a light 4 knot South Easterly on that now obvious Port Tack starting line. The No Flying Sails class once again led the fleet off the line and behind them the first flying sails classes lined up for the gun. The classic Pocket Rocket, Perfectly Strange, wasn’t gonna be port tacked again and came at the RC boat on starboard tacking over onto port after the gun and closing the door on any possible port tack domination by their competition.
Behind them the two Moore 24’s in the class followed on port but Morphine had a good head of steam going and sailed right through the lee of More Uff Da like they were standing still. That good looking skipper on More Uff Da was dumbfounded at how they accomplished that in such light air and lifted up a disapproving finger to share his displeasure. Morphine responded by laughing and yelling out “Your Outboard!” To which that confused skipper looked back to see it hanging in the water, not tilted up! If you’ve ever wondered how much drag an outboard in the water has, let me tell you, it’s significant.
Perfectly Strange led the fleet around the weather mark (the green channel can) while the faster classes rolled off the starting line in the now building southerly breeze and after rounding, popping their chutes and heading north to Meadow Point the current really began to play a strange and solid role in the race. Normally on an Ebb you head out on the way north and after rounding the mark lean towards the beach, then the breakwater for the south moving eddies and stronger winds. But Saturday had it all mixed up with fresh water from the locks running through the marina and then out along bikini beach aimed straight at the Meadow Point buoy. Combine this with the South Easterly being lighter near the hills and the outside began paying big dividends on way back through the Start/Finish line and the second lap in the course.
The crew of More Uff Da saw the outside current lanes and quickly slipped away from their competition and made it almost back to the green can before the quick and slippery Farr 30 Project Mayhem took advantage of the building winds and the big right shift to round the second lap in the lead and put the pedal down on the run to Meadow Point and ultimately the overall win for the day.
While the leaders tried to figure out the currents and winds on the second lap the J/29 Wing Attack Plan R and the Olson 911 Kowloon were having a side by side battle towards the first leeward mark on the inside of the course while the J/30 Outlaw worked down the outside lane with more breeze and positive current. The three met at the leeward mark and then split again as each searched for a positive current elevator and clear wind back upwind and into the second lap of the course. The rest of the fleet mingled all over the bay – slower boats held on to abnormal leads by slipping into current elevators and catching the shift at just the right point to stay in front of boats they normally had no chance of sailing anywhere near. In the end the advantage went to the early finishers as the wind began to calm back down near the 4 knots seen at the start and boats began trickling across the line, placing how they finished. Only one boat out of the 20, the J/105 Avalanche, corrected over a competitor after the ratings were applied to the finish times.
Class A, the Non Flying Sails, was won by the Cal 2-27 Backslider, owned by Larry Senn, leaving second to the Dufour 34 Frog Prints. Class B was taken by the Moore 24 More Uff Da, owned by Jennifer and Ben Braden, with the Pocket Rocket, Perfectly Strange, in second and the Moore 24, Morphine, in third. Class C was won by the J/29 Wing Attack Plan R, owned by Paul Hanson, with the J/30, Outlaw, in second and the Olson 911, Kowloon, in third. Class D was taken by the Farr 30, Project Mayhem, owned by Grady Morgan, with the J/33, Corvo, in second and the J/120, Hinzite, in third. Next up for the Snowbird Series is February 7th, see you on the water!