The fourth and final race of the 2015-15 Southern Sound Series, the Islands Race, was hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on the first day of Spring, 21 March 2015.
Over fifty boats registered to compete in the 29.5 mile course up Colvos Passage to a mark at the north end of Blake Island and return to the start/finish line outside the mouth of Gig Harbor. Of notable absence was Charlie Macaulays Absolutely witch lost her mast during the Scatchet Head Race the weekend before.
First day of Spring! She came in like a Lion and left like a lamb! The start was covered with rain and 15 knot winds from the south. The Cruising classes headed north on a northerly ebb towards Blake Island. Everyone looked great . . . good wind and current! The PHRF classes had their reverse start at 1000. Colorful spinnakers could be seen all over the passage.
One of the first boats to round the mark was Tom Mitchels J35C Wildflower. What is unique is that seldom in this race do the Cruising classes round the northern mark before the PHRF classes.
Paul LaMarche, skipper of the fastest boat in the race, -78 PHRF, could be seen before the start aboard the Santa Cruise 70 holding a safety briefing with the huge crew. They were all gathered around the cockpit and listening to the guidance from the skipper. Neptunes Car passed Koosah after she rounded the mark and all aboard looked happy and safe!
After rounding the mark, several boats had to reef and change to a smaller headsail. The wind was from the south was still around 15 knots. Some found it difficult to fight the current near the south end of Blake Island. Then the sun came out and the rain stopped! It turned out to be a fun beat to the finish! Every boat made it to the finish before dark.
The traditional party after the race at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club was a huge success! What has changed over the years is the race registration and scoring of the races. Each racer can see on their smart phone or computer whom their competition is before the race and as soon as the race is over, the results!
The results for the race and the series may be found on the www.ssseries.org web site.
The 2014-15 Series contained all elements of racing: The Winter Vashon race was run backwards and used virtual marks for rounding the north end; The Duwamish Head Race, for the second year in a row, was abandoned: last year too much wind, this year no wind! The Toliva Shoal Race was Perfect: Great winds and favorable currents. The Islands Race also had great winds and favorable current, at least going north!
The 2015-16 season begins with the TYCs Winter Vashon on Saturday, 5 December!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Bruce Hedrick, editor of Northwest Yatching magazine, stated on his web site before the race: This should be an absolutely banner weekend and that will be especially true for the sailors doing the Toliva Shoal out of Olympia . . . it looks like this could be one the those Toliva Shoal races where the tide, wind and weather will all come together to prove what should be a great race.T Bruce nailed it!
The start for the Cruising Classes began at 0930 in a northerly wind with an ebb tide. Boats were able to beat down Budd Inlet to Dana Passage where the ebbing current made every boat look great as they swept down the channel. Looking behind one could see the PHRF fast boats, which started 30 minutes later, closing the gap on the furniture fleet classes. Aboard Koosah we knew it was going to be a great race because Jam, the fastest boat in the fleet usually passes us in Dana Passage, but today they passed us just after we rounded the McAlister Creek buoy. That is a difference of three miles from previous years! We were going to finish before dark! (Last year we finished in the dark with a blizzard! When we arrived at our Swawntown dock there was six inches of snow!)
After rounding McAlister Creek buoy, all beat to the Toliva Shoal in strong northerly winds and some chop. The larger boats were able to punch through the waves better than the lighter boats.
Rounding the Shoal, the PHRF boats hoisted their spinnakers and held them almost to the finish line at Olympia Shoal. The cruisers were able to sail wing and wing and admire the colorful chutes as they rolled over them.
Of particular interest was Lightly Salted. They were getting prepared to jibe their spinnaker just after passing the McNeil Island boat dock and they went aground! Jan and Skip Anderson on the photo boat came to their rescue and nudged them off of the muddy bottom. Once off, Lightly Salted continued sailing since the weather was so great and crossed the finish line and then retired from the race. (Jan will have some great photos of the race!)
Most boats finished before dark. Jam finished around 1518 hours and only a couple of cruising boats elected to retire as the wind was dying as the sun went down.
Great party and food Friday night, wonderful breakfast Saturday morning, and hot soup after the race! Thank you volunteers! Kudos goes to Norm Smit, Principal Race Officer, and his crew of volunteers for running a fair and organized race.
The results can be found on the www.sssseries.org web site.
The final race in the Southern Sound Series is the Islands Race sponsored by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 21 March. You may register on the Series web site.
Whew! What a wonderful day of sailing!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
No wind, No Race. After drifting for an hour or so, the weather forecast was confirmed and the Three Tree Point Yacht Club wisely abandoned the 2015 edition of the Duwamish Head Race.
Approximately 500 sailors and volunteers now had their daytime plans changed! It takes a lot of effort and coordination to prepare and participate in a 30-mile race: Ensure the race committee is on station; pay the 2015 PHRF dues; pay the race fee; coordinate the delivery to DesMoines; schedule the crew pickup; have enough food and beverages aboard; ensure the safety requirements are met; have your boat race ready; SO, now how do you put a positive spin on such an event? Aboard Koosah, we came up with the Top Ten positive aspects of the weekend.
1. On the delivery from Olympia Friday our newest crew member, Catherine Hovell, had never motored under the Narrows Bridges.
2. We were able to practice a man overboard drill to meet the new safety requirements.
3. We contacted the tug Vulcan pulling a log boom at Point Defiance and asked if our fellow sailor. Scott Schoch Nirvana, was aboard. He was, but off duty, so we didnt ask to wake him.
4. Six SSSS boats tied up to the Tacoma Yacht Club reciprocal moorage and 12 skippers and crew enjoyed a delicious meal in the dining room. (plus electricity at the dock!)
5. Our radar and AIS worked well; we could identify the several huge cargo ships anchored in Commence Bay waiting to unload as the Port of Tacoma labor issue was slowing everything down.
6. As we drifted around in the starting area we were able to congratulate Skipper Charlie Macaulay on Absolutely for being the number 1 boat in 48 Norths Top 25 Boats for 2014.
7. We still remained friends after spending time together. Have you ever tried to put eight people in the space of a broom closet for several hours and still be friends?
8. Jan Anderson,, and her husband Skip, was able to take some great photos of the crew on most of the boats.
9. We didnt have any wet sails to take home and try to dry out.
10. And, everyone was able to make it home in time to watch the Seahawks trounce the Carolina Panthers! GO HAWKS!
The next race is our own, SSSS/OYC, Toliva Shoal on 21 February. We usually have several new boats in the Cruising classes, so if you have not obtained a rating from the Series handicapper, Mark Harang, please contact him! (206) 235-5716, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Koosah had her standing and running rigging replaced over the holidays and the mast is still standing!!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah, Your Series Rep
The 2014-2015 Southern Sound Series kicked off with the 38 edition of the Winter Vashon Race sponsored by the Tacoma Yacht Club on December 6, 2014. Over 70 yachts registered to compete as they raced counter clockwise around the island.
What was new this year?? A new class, IRC, for large boats was added. Three boats over 50' registered. Neptunes Car, a Santa Cruise 70, Jam, a J-160, and Artemis, an Adrews 53, galloped around the course leaving most of the PHRF boats in their wake.
The counter clockwise course is seldom used for the race. It required competitors to rethink their tactics in Colvos Passage where the current always runs north.
At the north end of the island, two virtual marks were established using latitude and longitude rather than the traditional mark boat or yellow triangle floating mark. Racers had to keep the east mark to starboard and then the western mark to port. It seemed to work well and they could shorten the race if necessary from shore. There were no instructions of what to do if you hit the virtual mark!
What was the same? Registration and scoring was accomplished using US Sailing Regatta Network. Thank you to Dawn Umstot and Margaret Patterson of the Tacoma Yacht Club for installing the program and training the scorers from the other clubs how to use it. The program allows skippers to register on line, see who has already registered, and upon completion of the race see the results on the web with their computer or smart phone almost as soon as they finish.
Reverse starts. The Series adopted reverse starts last year, as has SSSS for the longer races. The Cruising Classes start 30 minutes prior to the PHRF classes and then the slower PHRF boats start before the faster ones. This allows the fleet to remain closer together and sail in similar wind and current. It also adds a safety aspect since most can see each other.
The Tacoma Yacht Club threw another great welcoming party. The taco bar was delicious. The bright red T-shirts had the reverse course on the back so the younger sailors who know only digital could figure out the definition of counter clockwise.
The Race. It started with light southerly winds and slowly built and most could carry their spinnakers to the north end of the island. Some cruising non flying sails boats had trouble rounding Point Robinson and could not keep up with the fleet. As it turned out half of the NFS fleet did not finish. Most rounded the north end before 1300 and then the wind increased. Aboard Koosah we changed sails to the small #3 and a double reef and still were healed at 20 degrees in some gusts. This provided a challenge for the skipper, me, who was attempting to serve hot chicken, cold macaroni salad, and drinks to the crew.
The faster boats finished in early afternoon. The slower boats found the wind dying around 1700 and had to change to drifters to cross the finish line at the TYC clubhouse. What is discouraging, yet encouraging at the same time, is seeing the fast boats motoring back to Seattle as you are still racing up Colvos. The encouraging aspect is that there will be more room at the TYC dock upon your finish where most Olympia boats spend Saturday night. Due to the high tides, there was an abnormal amount of flotsam, including large logs, which would make traveling at night rather dangerous.
The Series retained the team competition. The SSSS team is now Bodacious, Redline, and Korina-Korina.
Odds and Ends. More racers are installing the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Aboard Koosah we monitored one of our competitors, Xocomil, a C&C 37+ traveling at 6.9 knots! We were doing around 5 knots. It was dark and we thought there was no way we were going to save our time! After the race we discovered that Xocomil had dropped out and was motoring back to TYC!
Pay it forward. I-5 was near Little Fish Trap in Dana Passage drifting towards shore. There was no wind. She had broken a fan belt. Jolly Rumbalow, Richard Bigleys new C&C 34+, saw them and after a short conversation, towed I-5 to Zittles Marina where a repair could be made. Jolly Rumbalow then motored to Devils Head where her engine started sputtering. Richard had to return to Swawntown and was not able to compete in Winter Vashon. I-5, Dan OBrian, told Richard that he owed him a tow whenever needed!
The next race in the series is Duwamish Head on 10 January 2015. This is the longest delivery for most SSSS sailors. Several boats deliver to the Tacoma Yacht Club on Friday, tie up to the reciprocal moorage with shore power, and enjoy the Sunset dinner in the wonderful TYC dining room. You should receive the January issue of the S-t-S about four days before the race, so if I have not contacted you and you wish to stay at TYC Friday night and eat in the dining room, please let me know so I may make reservations. The crews should know how to find your boat Saturday since they raced Winter Vashon. It is about an hour and a half motor over to the start at Des Moines, nine miles.
Remember to pay your 2015 PHRF dues prior to racing!
The results may be found on the Series web site: www.ssseries.org.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Winter Vashon, the first of the four-race Southern Sound Series, has been completed. The results may be found on the www.ssseries.org web site.
The second race is Duwamish Head 10 January 2015. Sponsored by the Three Tree Point Yacht Club, it starts outside the Des Moines breakwater, heads north to Alki Point in West Seattle, then east to the Duwamish Head dolphin in Elliott Bay. The racers sprint west to round north of Blakely Rock and then back to the start/finish line.
Each year presents unique circumstances for the racers. Two years in a row the race was cancelled because of no wind. Last year it was cancelled due to too much wind. The race is a favorite for several Seattle boats. If the race is shortened at the Duwamish Head mark it is a short delivery to return the boat to their Seattle moorage. The majority of the years the race has been completed, although often in the dark!
For our South Sound Sailing Society racers, several usually tie up at the Tacoma Yacht Club reciprocal moorage, plug into shore power, and then enjoy a meal together in the TYC dining room. Last year there were several skippers and crew who sat down to the famous Sunset Dinner Special. Please let me know if you wish to participate! Saturday morning, we motor nine miles to the start line.
After the race, most boats return to TYC to spend the night. Then go back to Olympia on Sunday.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
The four-race Southern Sound Series starts off December 6 when the Tacoma Yacht Club hosts the Winter Vashon Race. This is followed on January 10, 2015 with the Three Tree Point Yacht Club Duwamish Head Race. Our own, with OYC, Toliva Shoal Race will commence on 21 February and the Series ends on 21 March with the Gig Harbor Yacht Clubs Islands Race.
The Series Website, www.ssseries.org contains the Series Notice of Race (NOR) and Series Sailing Instructions (SIs). Sponsoring clubs will provide their own information for their race on the site also.
Skippers may register on the site using the US Sailing Regatta Network, the same procedure as last year. Scoring will also use the Regatta Network and competitors may monitor who has registered prior to each race and follow the up-to-date scoring over the Internet as the race progresses.
Some of the changes from the 2013-2014 Series will carry over: Commodore and Non-flying sails classes will start thirty minutes before the PHRF fleets. The reverse start sequence will continue with the slower PHRF classes starting first.
Announcements will be made on the Series Website. Post cards will not be mailed announcing the four races. Cruising class boats whom do not have a PHRF rating must contact Mark Harang, the Cruising Class(es) handicapper: (206) 676-2136, email@example.com . Inform him if you already have received a rating from him for a previous Series. The SSSS D-Class handicap that Kelly Coon assigns will not be valid, but let Mark know that rating should you have one.
The Winter Challenge Series Team Trophy will be awarded to the three boats from the same club who have the lowest combined score for the Series. The Series Overall Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the boat with the fewest points as awarded in each class, and the Best Fleet Performance Trophy for the PHRF boat with the lowest cumulative overall score for all boats.
Please contact me should you have questions and hope to see you Friday night, 5 December at the Tacoma Yacht Club for the class assignments and party, then Saturday morning, 6 December for the Winter Vashon Race!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Your SSS Representative