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!