The Southern Sound Series consists of four races: Winter Vashon, Duwamish Head, Toliva Shoal, and the Islands. The Series offers SSSS/OYC sailors an opportunity to compete with boats from throughout Puget Sound. For the novice racer there are two classes to ease into racing: The Commodore Class, flying sails, and the Cruising Non Flying Sails Class. These two classes do not require the Pacific Handicap Racing Fleet Northwest (PHRF-NW) membership to compete. The boats do need a handicap however and they may obtain one free from the Series handicapper, Mark Harang, (206) 235-5716, firstname.lastname@example.org. Our D Fleet handicap is not valid for this series, although let Mark know what it is so he may compute yours; they are often identical.
Winter Vashon is hosted by the Tacoma Yacht Club. This year it will be held on 5 December 2015. The 30+nm course usually races clockwise around Vashon Island with the start and finish in front of the clubhouse. TYC has ample moorage at their club. They provide members to guide you to a spot at a dock. The party is always loud and fun. This is the time to renew friendships since several have not seen each other for at least six months. The class breaks are established at this meeting along with the three-boat teams from each club.
The second race is sponsored by the Three Tree Point Yacht Club in Des Moines. Duwamish Head starts on 9 January 2016 in front of the Des Moines marina, heads north past Alki point, round the Duwamish Head dolphin to port then a sprint over to Blakeley Rock (watch out for the sand bar on the north side!) and then back to the finish in front of the Marina. Moorage is available and at the marina and the party is hosted at Anthonys. Several SSSS/OYC racers arrive Friday night at the Tacoma Yacht Club, use our reciprocal moorage privileges, plug into shore power, and enjoy a wonderful meal as a group in the clubs dining room. There are also free showers below the clubhouse! After the race, several boats return to TYC for the night and return to Olympia Sunday during the daylight.
The third race is ours! Toliva Shoal, sponsored by the Olympia Yacht Club and South Sound Sailing Society, will be held on 20 February 2016. You will receive much information about this race and the outstanding party on Friday night at our meetings and through the Ship-to-Shore. This is the most complicated race of the Series. There are several current gates to pass through and numerous marks on the course. It is the longest race of the Series, 38+nm; however, it has the most diversified scenery on the course! This is the race that is most attended by SSSS/OYC racers.
The Series is culminated with the Islands Race. Hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 19 March 2016, it starts just outside the mouth of Gig Harbor, goes north up Colvos Passage to a mark north of Blake Island and return. The clubs party is held after the race and they always have wonderful food and videos of the race along with the results. Moorage may be found at the public dock or throughout the harbor.
So, why race the Series? First, it is fun. It also requires a skipper to really plan ahead: the northern races usually are three-day affairs. They require coordinating the boat delivery up and back; the crew rides, the menu, and sleeping arrangements. If a SSSS/OYC crew thinks it is hot, the competition from the clubs up north will confirm if you really are hot, or not!. For most of us, it is very competitive but on a lower key level. The friendships developed over the years with sailors from clubs throughout Puget Sound are priceless. Sailors from the Series see each other at races, boat shows, cruising, and investing for safety at numerous marine stores.
So, you are encouraged now to start your plans to participate in this series! If you wish to participate as a crew member there are several SSSS/OYC racers that would welcome you aboard! And it is a great way to race prior to racing your own boat!
And, did I mention, that the trophies are something to treasure, but more importantly, the memories.
Additional information may be found on the Series web site: www.ssseries.org.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah