Southern Sound Series Rep Report:

What is the Southern Sound Series?
Less than a month to go!
A Valuable Asset
Winter Vashon
Duwamish Head
Toliva Shoal
Islands Race

Souther Sound Series Awards won by SSSS

Series Wrap-up

A weird four races! Three races were shortened at the turning mark and the fourth was abandoned at just before the fast boats reached the turning mark. Light winds required patience and perseverance. The race committees were challenged throughout the Series.

Winter Vashon was shortened at the north end of the island with little wind and strong northerly current forcing several racers to be swept past the finish line on the wrong side and unable to return to finish!

Duwamish Head was a wonderful weather day: sun and soft south breezes. Most of the fleet made it to Alki Point, but when rounding the point the winds disappeared and the ebbing current prevented boats to reach the Duwamish Head Dolphin, thus the committee boat abandoned the race.

Toliva Shoal was the best race of the Series for wind. All racers, save two who dropped out, were able to reach the Toliva Shoal buoy before dark where the race was shortened. It was a good call by the Race Committee: the wind had shifted 180 degrees from southerly to northerly and the current was ebbing. It was doubtful that any racer could make it thru Balch Passage much less to another shortening mark of the course.

The Islands Race was a real drifter! The start was conducted on time in a soft northerly breeze and an adverse current. Forty-five minutes after the starting gun, most sailors had drifted across the line. The conditions continued up Colvos Passage and the Committee Boat thankfully shortened the race at the turning mark north of Blake Island.

So the Series had some light wind. Up north there were some races that had dismastings and a lot of broaches. Guess it all depends which day the race is conducted!

SSSS sailors did very well. Thirty-three SSSS boats raced. There were 58 total boats that registered for the Series and 48 who showed up for the starting line. The number of racers is down from previous years.

Of particular note is Bodacious who won the Series Perpetual Trophy for first Overall in class and the Winter Challenge Team Trophy was won by McSwoosh, Something Special, and Korina Korina.

The 2016-2017 Series starts out with Winter Vashon on 3 December, Duwamish Head on 7 January 2017, Toliva Shoal 18 February, and concludes with the Islands Race 18 March.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah
photo by Dave Knowlton

Islands Race

The final race of the four-race Southern Sound Series was hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 19 March 2016. The Islands Race is an approximately 30 mile course starting and finishing near the entrance to Gig Harbor. Yachts race north up Colvos Passage to a mark on the north side of Blake Island and then a return to the start/finish line.

Patience and perseverance were required this year!! The starting sequence went off at the correct times, but with a whisper of wind and an adverse current, all classes made it across the starting line about the same time. It took Koosah 45 minutes to clear the line!

The fleet then broke into two bunches. Some were able to break out into a favorable northerly wind and ebbing current, while about half the fleet was stuck in the vicinity of the starting area. This situation persisted until late afternoon. We knew it was going to be a long day when Jam, who was first overall for Toliva Shoal, retired, closely followed by Wildflower, another GHYC yacht. These yachts were the local knowledge experts and they had retired!

Throughout the day, boats would be doing well, only to fall into a hole, no wind, and see all of their gains lost to the competition on the other side of Colvos Passage.

To make a long day and race short, the Race Committee wisely shortened the race at the turning mark north of Blake Island. The Seattle area moored boats were delighted because they had a short motor home; for the Olympia boats, well Koosah arrived home at 0330 Sunday morning! Results may be found on the Series web site:

The 2015-2016 Series is concluded. Next year’s series dates are: Winter Vashon, 3 December 2016; Duwamish Head, 7 January 2017; Toliva Shoal 18 February 2017; and Islands Race 18 March 2017.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah

SSSS Boats Did Well in Series

SSSS brought home two of the Series trophies Dave has been hauling around for the last month or two.

Bodacious had the best Series score in class with three bullets. So J Rosenbach and crew were First Over All.

Our team that consisted of McSwoosh, Something Special, and Korina Korina won the Team Race Trophy.

These are not the only boats doing well. Our other team was third. SSSS dominated the No Flying Sails Class. And ... better see the results. Congratulations to all! In a very real sense, all who raced are winners! Ed.

Toliva Shoal

Beautiful day, wonderful race! The third race of the four-race Southern Sound Series was hosted by the South Sound Sailing Society and the Olympia Yacht Club on 20 February 2016. The celebrations started Friday evening at OYC with a rousting party, tasty food and comradeship among about 200 sailors and friends.

The weather prior to Saturday had been windy and rainy; rain records were broken for the month of February and there were still eight days to go to the end of the month! The race however was able to slip in between two fronts and it turned out to be a fantastic day!

It was a downwind start for all classes. The southerly breeze allowed for downwind sails, spinnaker or wing on wing, to Boston Harbor. Then racers turned east through Dana Passage and were able to keep their spinnakers to Johnson Point. The race then became a close reach to the McAlister Creek buoy. The wind was up and sun was out! All was going well.

After rounding McAlister Creek buoy most boats could hoist their spinnakers again and carry them past Lyle Point on Anderson Island. It was noon and the race was really cooking!! But, alas, the wind started to die and then slowly shift to the north. Now tactics played into the race. Before it was a sail trim/waterline dash, now racers had to make decisions and find the wind. Some hugged the Anderson Island side while others went over to the Ketron Island side of the course in hopes of picking up a knot or so of current from the Nisqually River. It appeared that finding the wind was the most important tactic for the last leg of this race.

You could hear sighs of relief when the race committee announced on channel 72 that the race would be shortened at the Toliva Shoal mark! This proved to be a wise decision. The wind was dying and the ebb current was increasing. Of the 55 boats that started the race, only two did not finish, electing to retire. Thirty of the 55 boats were from SSSS/OYC which is evidence of the local support for this race

Most of the boats who moor up north, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, DesMoines, and Seattle, started their motors and headed to the Narrows Bridge. Several asked the boats moored in Olympia to take their crew back so they could get their cars. Hosting other crews on your boat for the return trip is always an enjoyable experience. Aboard Koosah, we have done it several times over the past 25 years and we have made many friends.

The results, along with several photos from Jan Anderson, Bob Butts, Jeff Hogan and others may be found on the Series web site:

The last race of the Series is the Islands Race hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 19 March.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah

Duwamish Head

Race Abandoned! The race committee elected to abandon the race around 1500 Saturday, 9 January 2016. The committee boat was stationed off the Duwamish Head dolphin, a mark of the course, anticipating shortening the race there. The wind was dying and an adverse current prompted them to abandon the race.

Well, on the positive side, it was a beautiful day!! As boats traveling from Tacoma broke out of the thick fog with about 200 feet visibility, all could see the start line off the Des Moines fishing pier. The start was accomplished in a light southerly breeze and racers could hold their spinnaker or wing-on-wing, all the way to Alki Point. The sun was out, no rain, and all were having an enjoyable time.

Then the call was made over the VHF that the race had been abandoned. Since the majority of the fleet had not rounded Alki Point yet, there was confusion of why that decision was made. As mentioned above, what little wind there was did not make it over the bluff at Alki and the current from the Duwamish River was adverse, thus the decision.

For the boats traveling from Olympia, the delivery up was pleasant. Several used the reciprocal moorage at the Tacoma Yacht Club and enjoyed a delightful dinner Friday night. All knew, from hearing the fog horns throughout the night, that it was going to be an interesting nine mile delivery to Des Moines in the morning. It was! The fog was thick. We could see boats on our radar that were very close, but could not visually see them in the fog. All arrived safely for the start!

The return delivery on Sunday was also enjoyable. The sun was out and the Seahawks won!

The third race in the four-race Southern Sound Series is our own Toliva Shoal Race on 20 February.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah

Winter Vashon

The 2015-2016 Series has started! The Tacoma Yacht Club hosted the Winter Vashon race on Saturday, 5 December 2015. Seventy boats registered for this annual event that kicks off the four-race Southern Sound Series.

The Tacoma Yacht Club is to be commended for their excellent organization of this race. The docking committee ensured that boats had a place to tie up and for most had an opportunity to plug into shore power. The registration desk greeted every one as they entered the club house and the check in was flawless. Racers could obtain their meal tickets for dinner as well as breakfast and purchase a real cool-looking Winter Vashon 2015 shirt. The PHRF class breaks were posted around 1730 which allowed all to discuss about their competition before the dinner which was served at 1800. One of the major topics of discussion was the weather predictions: Winds from the south 15 to 25 knots with a lot of rain! It could be a fast race!

The start on Saturday morning was also well organized. Classes were informed on Channel 72 of the warning , the prep flag going up, prep flag going down, and the count down for the start. The use of the radio is being used more often to coordinate races, which in my opinion, is great: racing can be intimidating for the novice and the radio takes much of that fear away during the start. The cruising classes started at 0930 in a light southerly and headed towards Colvos Passage with the help of a flood tide. Thirty minutes later spinnakers were raised on the first PHRF class start. As mentioned in past reports, starting first in the NFS cruising class allows you to see the entire fleet as they zip past you! All were able to sail downwind until around Pt Richmond when the wind shifted 180 degrees to the north.

The wind remained light and the Race Committee wisely chose to shorten the race at the north end of Vashon Island. Being in the back of the fleet this was discouraging because we did not see the fast boats motoring back to Tacoma after their finish. The riddle was solved when we discovered that most of them kept on motoring north to their marinas in Seattle!

The shortened course meant that one had to finish within 8 hours of your start. Koosah was almost to the finish line around 1630, 7 hours from our start, when the wind died and we were swept past the committee boat on the incorrect side!! We missed the boat by about 50'. We fought back against the current in the light wind and then made the decision to go for the line before our 8-hour, 1730 cutoff time. Again, the current caught us and we had to start our engine to avoid a collision with the committee boat! This happened to a couple of other boats, so we didn’t feel so dumb, just frustrated! It was a long motor back to TYC!

Thank you again to TYC for reserving the docks Saturday night! There were twenty boats from SSSS who participated in the race and many of they stayed at TYC that night and would deliver their boats back to Olympia Sunday morning.

Sunday morning confirmed the weather forecast from the previous day! Winds were out of the south in the mid-teens gusting into the mid-twenties. With a flood tide, the waves through the Narrows and then up near Toliva Shoal, made for a slow slog back to Olympia!

Results may be found on the website. Most racers could see how they placed by using their smart phones and check the website on their way back to the dock. US Sailing Regatta Network seems to work well. It was great to visit with sailors from up north whom you only see during this series.

The next race is Duwamish Head on 9 January 2016, sponsored by the Three Tree Point Yacht Club.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah

A Valuable Asset

This is written a month before the Winter Vashon Race, 5 December, so there is nothing to report about the race. The Duwamish Head Race is next, on 9 January.

We, as sailors, have a valuable asset in Puget Sound. Jan Anderson, known as Shooter, and her husband, Skip, known as Boat Boy, provide our sailing community with gorgeous photography of our events. You may find a link to her photos on our SSSS web site: go to the Bar and then click on the Sailing Photos from all over the Sound by Jan Anderson. She has supported South Sound Sailing Society by photographing our Black Star Regattas and our Toliva Shoal Races. She also supports the Southern Sound Series which includes Winter Vashon, Duwamish Head, Toliva Shoal, and the Islands Race. You can spend hours just enjoying her excellent shots of sailboats racing and sailors having fun.

You are encouraged to purchase a photo or two of your boat, or of your friend’s boat, and one for each of your crew. The photos make a nice Christmas gift while supporting her business.

She recently photographed the Seattle Yacht Club’s Grand Prix Invitational Regatta and Corinthian Yacht Club’s Puget Sound Sailing Championship. Some observations from the photos:

Although there were some SSSS sailors working as crew members, I did not see any SSSS boats!

Sailboat racing is a demanding sport. After the race, it is enjoyable to sit down to enjoy and share some photos of your boat.

Dave Knowlton, Koosah

Less than a month to go!

The Series Council met on 24 September at the Tacoma Yacht Club to organize the 2015-2016 Southern Sound Series. The dates were confirmed:

Winter Vashon 5 December
Duwamish Head 9 January
Toliva Shoal 20 February
Islands Race 19 March

Regatta Network will, again this year, be used as the registration and scoring program. Each sponsoring yacht club will link its registration to the series web site: .

For consistency, the following changes were made:

Winter Vashon will start one hour later than in the past, thus making the warning sound for the cruising classes at 0925 and the first PHRF class at 0955 for all four races. Be sure to check the individual race instructions to confirm this change!

The Islands Race time limit was extended to 13 hours, the same as the other three races. Again, check the individual race instructions!

The class breaks will be announced a couple of hours earlier than in the past. The committee plans to meet at 1700 and have the breaks posted soon after.

Teams may consist of three boats in any of the PHRF divisions from the same Yacht Club/Sailing Society.

The Tacoma Yacht Club is gearing up for a grand kick-off party Friday night, 4 December. Drop in for a fun time!

Dave Knowlton, Koosah Your Rep and Series Chair

What is the Southern Sound Series?? Why Race it?

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, 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 Anthony’s. 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 club’s 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 club’s 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:

Dave Knowlton, Koosah