Down the Sound

A bit late in posting this udpate. Hey, it’s Summer and lot’s going on. As expected this was a drifter for the most part. Like the Race to the Straights this is an over night race. Race one is south to Gig Harbor from Shilshole and race two is back to Shilshole on Sunday. As always in the Sound tides and terrain played a part with the light winds teasing people to go this way and that. The start on Saturday was exciting as there were thunderstorms in the area and we got pelted by some heavy but short down pours. My enthusiastic crew mate for this race, Steve, was so confident in the weather he didn’t bring any waterproof gear. Oops. A dash down below for some extra foulies and we stayed dry albeit a touch too warm. The breeze was very light and it was a downwind start so up went the A2 on a nice angle for us. We were pretty much right on the rhumb line for the west side of Vashon Island. Steve and I were watching the 3 J-105’s sail away from us (as they always do downwind) when out of blue sky a bolt of lightning dropped down to the water right in the middle of them. That was way too close and later we heard from their crew that yes, it was. We hit the halfway mark and noted our time as a bit after 1pm. We were actually doing well by having stayed right on the rhumb line because at the end of the day no one actually finished in time and we placed a decent 4th in class behind 4, fast, light air boats. We were the turtle in a race with hares that day.

Steve at the helm
Steve at the helm while I trim

Sunday promised more of the same. Light air, downwind start. However, the angle was bad for the A2 so we had to hoist the heavy #2 jib on the furler. Not the best option but it was my best guess for later in the day. We finally turned the corner and got the A2 up as we headed north. The wind was very, very light. We got good at keeping the big A2 up in about 5 knots apparent. It’s not easy I can tell you. Gybing is nearly impossible and we had to actually drop it a couple times just to be able to gybe. Then the most bizarre thing happened. A line of swimmers in a race across the channel between Vashon and the peninsula ended up cutting us off. We had limited steerage and a bit of current pushing us into them and really no safe way to avoid them. This was a first! I finally decided I had no choice but to start the engine and motor for a few seconds back to the south to avoid endangering any of the swimmers. I made sure I did not advance our position and hoped my fellow competitors would understand. I’m pretty sure this is covered under one of the rules but it’s a bit unclear to me so I self reported to the committee after we finished in case any one took issue.

Unfortunately that put us just far enough behind to get caught when the wind died. A number of those that made it past the swimmers escaped into a building breeze that would eventually reach us about 2 hours later. The afternoon sail from then on was actually really nice. We saw winds over the deck in the low to mid 20’s. Wish I had committed to the new #3 as we would have done a lot better with it up but the furling rig was already on so there was no going back at that point. While we reeled in a lot of boats outside our class we just didn’t have enough time to overcome the “swimmers block” despite nailing the lay line to the finish from over a mile out in a strong current. We did that!

New #3 in GPX
New #3 we should have had up on Sunday afternoon

Overall, nice event. Sloop Tavern does a great job putting on events and knows how to run a race. I’m not a fan of light air racing. Never have, never will but in the PNW that’s what you get this time of year more often than not.