On a whim I entered the boat into the 2018 Race to the Straits (there is only one Strait) but whatever. It is a NW classic now with a cap at 125 boats. After last week’s rainy, windless bust of a race to Smith Island I figured what the heck. With bowman Tim on as crew the weather was way better but typically PNW being all over the place, not to forecast day one and a near drifter on Sunday. Still we had a great time albeit with some disappointing moments that were all our fault. I think that is what keeps us coming back despite the level of effort required to sail a 44 foot, 24,000 pound boat with just two people.
Day one we managed 4th place in class 11 despite some screw ups on my part. Day two we sailed a hard race downwind in light air with barely enough wind to keep big old Kinetics moving. Sadly I failed to get our halfway time in before the 8pm deadline so instead of a second place in class 11 on Sunday we were dead last! Rules is rules. We really enjoyed trading places with the awesome Sir Issac all day. That boat must be just as much work to sail with two people. Here are a few pics from the two days. Mostly other people’s boats. [results changed Tuesday morning and our 12:59 halfway time would have put us in second not first on Sunday].
The 50th Anniversary of this iconic race is now in the Kinetics log book. Fellow sailor and our sailmaker, Alex Simanis, of Ballard Sails sold me on this race and I’m glad he did. It was a big effort to get the boat and crew ready but it was worth it. The two day delivery to Vancouver is only part of the challenge in participating. We all needed our Safety at Sea certifications renewed and the seminar was the weekend just before the race. The logistics of an out of town, overnight race are a big step up from a local day race and even more than the two day Round the County in the San Juan Islands.
After clearing Customs at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club we motored over to the host West Vancouver Yacht Club where we were provided with a nice slip in their newly revamped marina. The club and marina are in a beautiful West Vancouver area. The check in, dinner and swag were great. WVYC did a great job and are to be commended for their efforts.
The weather forecast and briefing was a bit dismal but like all forecasts in the PNW in the past year don’t turn out quite as expected. The Saturday start was delayed for lack of wind but finally commenced before the tides changed, trapping us in English Bay. The winds built nicely and Kinetics carried the big #1 genoa upwind to Ballenas Island reeling in a lot of faster boats. This is the boat’s strength. It may not point as high but its long water line and power make it fast upwind and our displacement is a bonus in the chop.
Rounding Ballenas we set the A2 kite and sailed downwind in a nice breeze. This leg to Entrance Island off Nanaimo was so nice. The moon was full and right on the bow. Besides being a spectacular sight it made working the night shifts so much easier. Trimming was hardly any different than during the day. We watched the tracker (all boat’s are required to carry Spot Trackers) to monitor how were were doing and it was looking good for us. We were pacing some PHRF Class 2 boats and well ahead of many of our own Class 3 boats.
Things got a bit dicey rounding Entrance Island as we tried to dowse the kite a bit late but we got it sorted and headed back upwind with the #3 jib. We elected to go with the #3 to make life easier for the short handed crew on the night watches. This turned out to be a good choice as there were times the winds were up over the #1’s 15k limit. Our approach to Ballenas saw us overstand a bit and this let Kraken catch us up and slide inside. We were side by side with them as we hoisted the A2 again for the run back across to the finish. Kraken sailed on south as we turned east across the strait. We should have gone south.
I went below to get some rest and when I came back up things had changed dramatically. The wind was gone. Completely gone. The crew had set the drifter and we did just that for a few hours watching the sunrise from the middle of the Georgia Strait. Looking at the tracker data we could see Lodos, a J109 from Seattle, to the north, Dominatrix (a class 3 boat the popped up from nowhere it seemed) and Kraken to the south. All of us trying to find breeze to escape on.
The other boats found it first leaving us to finish all by ourselves. We literally could see no other boats ahead or behind despite the tracker data. The scale of things is deceiving. We almost managed a spinnaker up finish but had to do a drop at the last minute to duck the buoy. Finishing just before 1pm on Saturday we put ourselves in 5th place in PHRF 3. A good result for our first go. This resulted in a 16th overall for the Medium course which was just over 100 miles in length.
What has been a bad luck race for us the past 2 years almost became 3 in a row with an adrenaline charged pre-start. I was thinking we were done before we started but the foredeck pushed through and sorted things out just in time to get us to the line for a nearly perfect port tack start. We ended up rounding the modified (for the predicted light air forecast) course’s first upwind mark second overall! Eventually the faster boats rolled us but it was fun to be up front for a while. It was hard work with just the 5 of us with the big J1 needed for 3 upwind legs. Then we had the 2 downwind legs to round West Point twice. The weather was very nice and the wind held all day. We had a few issues which cost us some time but all things considered we did well. I even managed to forget to feather the prop and that was my gift to the rest our division.
Here is a great close up of some action at the leeward mark from Jan’s Marine.
Stunning day for a sailboat race in the Pacific Northwest. The forecast was all over the place in the days leading up to March 3rd but race day could hardly have been better. Steady breezes from 12-15k out of the north with moderate current and mostly sunny skies. Can’t ask for much more than that. Here are a couple photos of us in Jan’s Marine gallery from the race. [Kinetics is in the center of both photos]
The race of the year here in the NW for a lot of people is Round the County and we made it again. Barely. The top end of the Universal engine got rebuilt after a total failure just a week before departure. The crew pitched in with the repair work and moving sails to make it happen. Added some new people to the roster that were a great addition and I think everyone had a great time.
Rented a house for the first time this year which was great. It made life so much better on Saturday night for a crew of eight. Nice dinner, hot showers and some comfortable quarters to relax and discuss our day’s efforts. Turns out we did rather well considering it was a light air day. The wind was light but never completely gone and that is what works for the big Nordic 44. If you can keep momentum up it will glide from puff to puff. We watched the boats ahead and did our best to avoid the places where they were parked up. It was an evening for celebration.
I managed to be over early for the first time ever and had to clear the line and restart. I figured that was going to be the end of our day so I was very happy to see we managed a good come back with great crew work from everyone. The start was wild with a crazy move by a big Beneteau making a dive in on port tack at the committee boat forcing several of us to dive out of the way and then yell for them to come up. That pretty much forced us to go up and over the rest of the fleet now heading towards the line. Who barges on port tack? I hope they learned something in the process and no one got hit thanks to some good boat handling by the rest of the fleet.
Sunday dawned a bit on the gloomy side and the forecast had left me uncertain of the best call for headsail choice. It was light but gusty in Mosquito pass so we hung on to the #1 thinking it would be light enough that we’d need it to get out the starting area. Unfortunately, the wind just kept building and we were quickly over powered and falling behind. I chose to reef the main rather than switch to the #3 thinking it might go light soon but again, I guessed wrong. We fell further behind and eventually had to go to the #3. We were now out of touch with our division and unsure of going into the beach or staying out. We ultimately started gaining back some time but it was too late. We got caught in a wind hole just after Salmon bank and had to put up the drifter to get out of it. That thing really works! We now call it the “weather changer”. We soon had to pull it down and go back to the #1.
Rounding Lopez the wind was up and the rain was starting to fall. Finally on a beam reach we launched the A3 for the long run up Rosario to the finish. The rain and the wind kept building and soon we were ripping along in 20-25 knots of wind. We had to dump the main a few times but never wiped out. We slowly reeled in another boat in our class but it was nearly race over and dark by then. With the light gone, the finish all but invisible, I elected to drop the kite and unfurl the #1. Just didn’t feel safe bombing downwind with smaller boats around us in those conditions flying a kite. Not worth it to place second from last instead of last in division. The finish in the dark, wind and rain was not fun but we got it done. Pretty sure everyone was as relieved as I was to have it over and get on the way back to Anacortes.
Another exciting RTC, the 30th edition, according to the tee shirt. We’ll be back next year for a CCW lap and hopefully do well BOTH days this time!
We had a great time with the SYC Tri Island series and will be sure to do it again next year. We learned more with each race and made some hilarious blunders that we get to laugh about for many seasons. It was great to bring some new people on board and we enjoyed their company and learned from them as well. Every race someone got to drive, something I wanted to make happen regardless the results. I think we’re seeing what works and what doesn’t and there is no better way to find out except by doing. I have no idea why more people don’t try racing as a way to enjoy sailing. Done right it can be a lot of fun. A couple of pictures to prove we had fun on race #3.
At last a fine day for a race! Wind, no rain, we weren’t last and didn’t hit anyone. And we had fun. Success on the whole. We will ignore the part where I screwed up and started 5 minutes late. On the plus side we caught most of the people in our class and made up the 5 minutes. If only we had started on time. Because we were so late to the start line we ended up having to try to barge at the boat end and got peeled off big time with the Express re-Quest. That was exciting. Regroup, trim, keep going.
Here are some photos from the race. Next week we will sail on Tranquilite unless the weather is bad in which case we will take Kinetics out for the STYC Blakely Rock Benefit benefiting The Sailing Foundation.
Thanks to my new club the CYC for putting on the Center Sound Series.
Adding a nice photo from Jan’s Marine Photography from the start sequence wind up. Looks like about 30 seconds before we got scraped off for barging!
I wouldn’t say Scatchet Head was my favorite race based on the first two attempts. This second time around it rained. Of course it did. We’re having the wettest, coldest winter in decades here the PNW.
Other than the rain, and a confusing start, the downwind run to Widbey was uneventful. We kept pace, meaning we sailed to our rating or better. The last couple of miles not so much, which was entirely on me. We should have gybed west to stay in the wind like most everyone else had done. Our inside drop of the kite went well and we elected to keep the #1 up for the return trip to Shilshole.
However, the wind speed kept building and building until we were well into the 20’s, gusting to 30, and risking the health of the #1. Being a bit light on crew we had trouble furling and decided to duck into Kingston to try and get it rolled up. Unfortunately things did not go well and we ended up not being able to complete the task. With the rain and the wind, and our growing realization of being dead last in class, we decided to tuck in under the dodger and sail home on the main.
Next race we will be ready with all the “first race of the season” problems sorted out. At least we didn’t break anything this year! That’s an improvement over last year.
Let’s hope sailing remains a place to focus on the good things in life. I know I need a place like that. Getting more and more projects done for this year. The plan is to do more cruising in between the racing. This image was taken in January and it looks so inviting. You can’t tell it is about 34 degrees. Won’t be long before the new dodger is ready, a new drifter arrives and the bottom paint is refreshed. March is the official start of the sailing season for Kinetics.
Did the Seattle Boat Show of course. My visits the past couple years are very focused. I make a direct course for the vendors I need to see. The show felt like a near duplicate of last year though. Garmin had a new chart plotter with dedicated physical controls. After using a hybrid Raymarine unit for a while I’m thinking touch screen is not all that useful in the cockpit of a sailboat under difficult conditions. Down below they are fine but in cold, wet, pitching seas kind of weather, they don’t really work very well. At least not for me.
I’m starting to think about needing a new anchor windlass. The one I have works but is wearing out and a poor fit for the boat. This one looked like a better solution but I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me. They were more interested in selling someone lights. I wasn’t buying anyway.
I spent some of my boat show time looking at new boats. I think boat designers and builders are getting smarter in some designs. I saw quite a few nice features that actually contributed to efficiency, safety or performance. It might have just been my choice in boats but it was nice to see these things happening. I loved hanging around on the Farr 60 Pilothouse that Swiftsure Yachts had at the dock. It was fun to hear everyone coming on board say “wow”. Way too much boat for most people but for world cruising, if you can afford the upkeep, it would be a fine way to go.