The fourth and final race of the 2013-2014 Southern Sound Series was hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 15 March. The days before the race were sunny and balmy signaling that spring could arrive early, but, Friday morning Mother Nature reminded all that it was still winter as she pelted us with rain and wind. As the day wore on, the weather saw some sun and moderate temperatures.
There were approximately 15 boats moored at the public dock in Gig Harbor. The older sailors elected to stroll across the street to the El Publico for a great Mexican dinner while the younger racers trekked down the street to the Tides Tavern. The older sailors were sound asleep on their boats when the younger ones returned to theirs! The night was dead calm except for a burst of wind around 0315.
The start for the Cruising Classes commenced with little wind. Drifters were set and the ebbing current carried all across the line. The reverse start PHRF classes made their way north thirty minutes later. With the light winds several boats were hoping that the race would be shortened at the turning mark north of Blake Island. Such was not the case however as the wind continued to build.
The spinnaker boats started passing the cruising boats around Point Richmond. That is one advantage of the early start for the Cruising Classes: you have the opportunity to see all the boats in the race as they roll over you! All thoughts of a shortened raced were abandoned when we saw Neptunes Car beating back up Colvos Passage.
Spinnakers and wing-on-wing were held to the east end of Blake Island. Then a short broad reach to the turning mark. By now the wind was in the low teens and the beat to the finish was on! Most sailors hugged the west side of Vashon Island to gain current relief and it appeared to pay off. The wind held and the rain held off all the way to the finish near the mouth of Gig Harbor. All boats were able to complete the race by 1800.
The GHYC party, as usual, was well attended and racers were able to enjoy the great food and drink and brag about how well they did in the race.
Some boats from SSSS elected to return home that night. Against an ebbing current, Mother Nature again reminded us that there were six more days left in Winter as she pelted us with a cold rain all the way back to Olympia. Koosah arrived at Swantown at 2230 happy to complete another Southern Sound Series. The results are posted on the Series web site.
I will have a Series wrap-up in the April Ship-to-Shore.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
A complete race!!! It does not happen every year, but this was the year!! Every racer completed the entire race, except one NFS Cruising Class boat. Most before dark!
Prior to the race there was apprehension that several boats would not be able to get out of their slips in Swawntown Marina. There was up to two-inches of ice ... the layer of fresh water over the salt water. The Marina staff instructed Steve Movius, a Swawntown employee, to use the Port skiff to run up and down the fairways and break the ice. At least five boats moved out to the guest dock moorage a day or so early to ensure they could make it to the starting line!! After Steve made his runs Saturday morning, all the boats made it out.
For all of the Southern Sound Series races, the delivery is often the hardest or sometime most interesting. Last December Josh and Greg Larson were lowering their Olson 30, Lunchbox, into the water at the Tacoma Yacht Club in preparation for Winter Vashon. The lifting eye in the boat broke/came loose and the boat crashed into the water at low tide. The keel hit the rocks at the bottom and cracked the boat throughout. A total loss. They did locate another Olson 30 in Gig Harbor, Dire Straits, and were able to race the Toliva Shoal Race. This event reminded Mike and Brad Jones, owners of Sidewinder, another Olson 30, to check their lifting eye, before launch. Sure enough, they found ice in their bilge that would not allow the eye to be screwed on completely! Some hot water solved the issue and they also were able to race Toliva Shoal.
The race started as a drifter, which the weather forecast had predicted. The cruising classes were milling around the start with no wind and some putting up their drifters. Norm Smit, the Principal Race Officer, had the warning gun sound off at 0925 as per the sailing instructions. Five minutes later several had drifted over the starting line. The wind line was starting to fill in from the northeast, and Norm wisely decided to have a restart. Five minutes later the race was on!
The wind came from the northeast most of the race. It varied between 8 and 15 knots which allowed all to sail their best. Racers had to beat to Johnson Point. The PHRF boats started passing the cruising boats on the reach from Johnson Point to the McAlister Creek buoy. Boy, does a spinnaker make a boat go fast! It was another beat to the Toliva Shoal Buoy, then the run home! The current was ebbing, but the wind allowed all to get through the tidal gates in Balch and Dana Passages.
Upon rounding the lighthouse at Boston Harbor, the mountains in the distance started disappearing! SNOW! At first it was just cold sleet, then it turned to cold snow. It was coming down rather sideways! The committee boat at the Olympia Shoal had a great spotlight to help the finishers. Taking the sails down in the wind and snow was a challenge, and upon completion, you had to rely on your chart plotter to get back to Olympia. It was a white-out only in the dark! Some boats had elected to return up north; the only way we were able to see Jam was with our AIS; the radar screen was cluttered from the snow! When Koosah arrived back at her Swawntown dock there was still some ice in the fairway and four inches of snow on the docks!
The registration and score keeping was accomplished by Susan McRae using the US Sailing Regatta Network. This is the first time the Southern Sound Series has used the program and racers and scorers have stated they like it. Skippers can pay on line with a credit card, can see who else has registered prior to the race, and the results are posted a very short time after the race.
As always, the food prepared by Thera Black and Suzie Shaffer and their crew was outstanding. The party with the free beer obtained by Thom Abbot from the Fish Tail Brew Pub was enjoyed by all. All kegs were emptied! Thank you Fish Tail!
The 2013-2014 Southern Sound Series has provided racers with a variety of sailing conditions: Winter Vashon lots of wind, ice and cold; Duwamish Head too much wind to start the race; and now Toliva Shoal with the ice, drifting conditions, then wind, and finally snow! What will the Island Race have in store for us?? Well, you will just have to travel to Gig Harbor on March 15 when the Gig Harbor Yacht Club sponsors the race! (It has snowed on this race before!)
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
The second race of the four-race Southern Sound Series, Duwamish Head, was abandoned prior to the start on 11 January. This was a wise decision by the Three Tree Point Yacht Club race committee. Winds were reported by NOAA at Seatac 56 mph, West Point 49 mph, 520 Bridge 49 mph, and our own Boston Harbor 40 mph. The waves were huge and the smaller boats would have had a difficult time exiting the Des Moines Marina. In addition the Coast Guard announced over Channel 16 that they had reached their operational limitations and that response time could be delayed. A great time to head for home and watch the Seahawks beat the Saints!
Koosahs delivery to the Tacoma Yacht Club on Friday was enjoyable. A following wind and current with no waves we made it just over four hours. Reservations for our annual dinner at the TYC had been made for 16 SSSS sailors, but by the time we arrived Friday afternoon, they had been reduced to five! That was another wise decision made by several SSSS sailors not to race.
Friday night at the reciprocal moorage was wild. The wind howled through the rigging and Koosah was vibrating. In addition, the other two crewmembers, to remain unnamed, were conducting their own logging operation throughout the night ... their snoring was louder that I had ever heard! In addition were the thoughts of how to conduct the race ... do we use the storm jib as we did for Eagle Island and Winter Vashon? Will we be able to crash through those big waves on the return from Blakely Rock to Des Moines? Not much sleep.
We were relieved when the decision was made not to race! Koosah motored back to Olympia facing strong winds and waves in seven hours time!! You can see part of our AIS track at www.marinetraffic.com Rod Macaya on his beautiful Jeanneau 46, Puelche, motored past us as though we were standing still!!The third race is our own Toliva Shoal 8 February 2014. Last year we had 16 NFS cruisers racing, there are normally six in that class, and seven in the Commodore Class. If you plan to race and have not contacted Mark Harang for a handicap, please do so.: firstname.lastname@example.org (206) 235-5716. If you have a D Fleet handicap from Kelly Coon, let Mark know. But you still need to see him.
The last race of the Series is the Gig Harbor Yacht Clubs Islands Race on 15 March.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Your Southern Sound Series Rep
The first race of the four-race Southern Sound Series lived up to its name: Winter! Seventeen SSSS boats registered for the romp around Vashon Island and at least three decided that the weather was too cold and windy while another two did not finish. It was Freezing and Windy!
The delivery from Olympia to Tacoma required the boats moored in Swawntown to cut their way through the ice. Those who delivered on Thursday had it easier than those who chose to go on Friday. Friday saw stiff northerly winds against an ebb tide. The smaller the boat, the more spray froze on the deck and the rougher the ride.
Tacoma Yacht Club hosted a warming prerace party and taco bar Friday night. Class breaks were announced and then most sailors retired to their boat or went back to their warm home! For those who slept on their boats, the wind howled all night and the temperatures plummeted below freezing.
Crews started arriving around 0700 and by 0800 the two cruising classes headed out to the start. This year the slower classes start ahead of the faster boats. The start witnessed strong, cold north winds and several boats had to reef their main. As the fleet tacked their way up Colvos Passage, the wind moderated ever so slightly. Most of the faster fleets started passing the cruising classes at the north end of the Island.
As the racers rounded the mark boat at the islands north end spinnakers were launched and the race to the south began. The wind moderated even more and those who had a reef in their main shook them out. Ice still remained on the decks from the spray on the beat up Colvos Passage.
The spinnakers were held to the finish line in front of the Tacoma Yacht Club. All finishers were able to cross the line before dark.
The Southern Sound Series implemented the US Sailing Regatta Network program for registration and scoring. The results were posted on the TYC site shortly after the last boat finished.
The delivery back to Olympia was with a flood tide and wind behind us. Koosah was able to view the OYC Lighted Boat Parade as we entered Budd Inlet. Very pretty! We had to motor through the ice to get into our Swawntown slip, but happy to arrive!
The second race is Duwamish Head on 11 January. Registration may be accomplished on the web site, ssseries.org. The third race is our own Toliva Shoal on 8 February followed by the Islands Race on 15 March.
Dave Knowlton, KoosahIce at Swantown coming home from the Vashon Race. Photo by Dan O'Brien
Winter Vashon, the first of the four-race Southern Sound Series, is Saturday, December 7. There may still be time to register. See the Series web site.
The second race is Duwamish Head 11 January 2014. 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. Racers the 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. One 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 22 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 before going back to Olympia on Sunday.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
The Southern Sound Series Council met at the Tacoma Yacht Club 28 August 2013 to plan for the 2013-2014 Series. The following decisions evolved:
1. Dates: Winter Vashon 7 December; Duwamish Head 11 January; Toliva Shoal 8 February; Islands Race 15 March.
2. Registration will be over the Internet. Racers may pay the entry fee with a credit card. Register at the web site: www.ssseries.org. Further information regarding online registration will be available in late October.
3. Scoring will be accomplished with US Sailings Regatta Network.
4. All four races will have a reverse start. The Cruising and Commodore classes will start 30 minutes before the PHRF starts, then the slower classes will begin their starting sequence with the last start being the multi hulls.
5. Non PHRF boats may obtain a handicap from Mark Harang. Our SSSS D-Fleet handicap is not accepted for this series. Inform Mark what it is however and it will help him assign a Southern Sound Series Cruising or Commodore handicap, at (205) 235-5716 or email@example.com If you have a rating from him last year it should be good for this season.
6. The Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions will be on the Series web site: www.ssseries.org
7. A post card reminder will be sent to all known participants in November. I will contact all known SSSS racers who race the Series via email to update you on the implementation of these improvements.
For our SSSS sailors, now is the time to start planning your campaign! We usually have at least two teams consisting of three PHRF boats a team, so think about whom you would want on your team! The key for a winning team is for each boat to compete in all four races.
Also, remember to pay your 2014 PHRF dues. You should receive a reminder in the mail in November. If you do not have a PHRF rating, contact Rafe Beswick, our SSSS PHRF handicapper, at 888-9844, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Southern Sound Series provides a unique opportunity to meet and race boats from the Tacoma and Seattle area. Winter Vashon had 87 boats last year. Lets see if we can make that mark for all the races!
Please contact me should you have questions! Koosah@hotmail.com
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Your Southern Sound Series Rep