The fourth and final race of the Southern Sound Series was hosted by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club on 16 March 2013. Sixty-one boats paid to appear at the starting line on a gray overcast Saturday morning.
The first start was for the increasing popular cruising classes, with and without spinnakers. The two classes receive a 30 minute head start which has proven to be beneficial to the overall success of the races.
The wind was blowing around ten knots at the start and started to build as the boats headed north up Colvos Passage to the mark at Blake Island 15 miles away. The wind kept building and crews began discussing not using the larger headsail as they had planned for on the return to the finish line. Twenty knots started appearing on the wind gauges as the cruising classes approached Blake Island. Neptunes Car, a Santa Cruise 70, was first to reach the mark, and first to finish around 1413 hours, followed by the cruising classes. The rest of PHRF fleet was not far behind.
After rounding the mark, boats reduced sail by hoisting a small headsail. When out of the lea of Blake Island several had to reef the main sail. Older designed boats with a smaller stern were noticeably heeled more than the newer designs.
The wind remained in the twentys and it was variable which made the helmsperson pay close attention to the shifts. There were a couple of blown spinnakers on the way to the mark and on the way back to the finish line some headsails were shredded and one boat went aground.
First place overall was awarded to Terremoto, a Riptide 35, which is a water ballasted, excellent sailed boat.
The Gig Harbor Yacht Club provided their outstanding traditional dinner at the clubhouse as the racers enjoyed the company of fellow sailors as they watched the results being posted.
The results, along with excellent photographs taken by Jan Anderson and a fun video by Jeff Tjernagel on the mark boat, may be found on the series web site, www.ssseries.org.
Series Summary: One hundred and thirty seven racers participated in the Series. The Commodore Class, cruising class with spinnakers, and the Cruising Class, nonflying sails, were represented by 43 boats. Sailors in these classes often raced only one race which was sponsored by their club.
Winter Vashon, Duwamish Head and the Islands Race all had enough wind to complete the race. Winter Vashon and the Islands Race were barn burners with, perhaps too much wind! Toliva Shoal was wisely shortened after 7.5 miles at Johnson Point due to lack of wind and adverse currents.
The volunteers who make these races such a success are to be commended. The pre and post-race parties were spectacular and the race organization outstanding.
So, now is the time to start thinking about the 2013-2014 Series. Winter Vashon 7 December 2013, Duwamish Head 4 January, Toliva Shoal 8 February, and the Islands Race15 March 2014. (These dates are subject to change)
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Not a spinnaker in Sight! Approximately 70 boats reported to the starting line at Olympia Shoal in a dying southern breeze to be greeted by the postponement flag. Sailors wondered if there was going to be a race if the weather predictions would hold true: no rain and no wind. Thirty minutes later a northerly whisper of wind worked its way down Budd Inlet and the Cruising Classes started at 1005. The thick fog could be seen near Boston Harbor, but the sun burned it off before any of the racers arrived.
The northerly held and sometimes built to five knots and then dropped off to around three knots. Racers tacked their way to Boston Harbor into Dana Passage. Around noon most of the fleet had entered Dana Passage and were fighting a flood current. All held to the south side of the passage and tacking duels began. Those who went too far into the center paid dearly as the flood slowed their progress. Boats that monitored their Velocity Made Good, VMG, to Johnson Point appeared to make the best progress. As the racers zigzagged their way east, one could hear an occasional Starboard! But there were no collisions or harsh words.
The committee boat, under the supervision of the Principle Race Officer, Norm Smit, announced over channel 72 that the race was being shortened at Johnson Point. You could hear sighs of relieve over the water from the racers. Toliva Shoal is over 38 miles and has an 18 hour time limit. There were current predictions of four and five knots with little wind. Most sailors were not looking forward to finishing the race at Zero Dark Thirty in the cold! Good call Race Committee! Results may be found on the ssseries.org web site.
The Cruising Classes showed up in force for this race: Eight in the Commodore Class, spinnaker, and fifteen in the Non Flying Sails class. These classes allow the local boats to enter a longer race and see what It may be like before moving up to the PHRF classes. They start thirty minutes before the PHRF classes which allow them to inspect the entire fleet at they get passed on the course!
Toliva Shoal was a huge success! Great party and food on Friday night, and a race that was completed before dark in some wind!
The final race of the four-race Southern Sound Series is the Islands Race on 16 March. Sponsored by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, it is usually conducted in warmer weather with longer days that the other three races. There is free moorage at the City Dock, the one below the huge American Flag pole, and some great places to eat and have a good time. See you in Gig Harbor on 16 March!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Mary Campbell wrote an excellent article in the Ship-to-Shore which provided suggestions to the crew on how they could contribute to the smooth operation of the sailboat. On a different tack, listed below are some suggestions the skipper of a PHRF boat could take to make the experience more enjoyable for the crew. The crew is what makes the boat a race boat. Without a crew the skipper is simply single-handed and just managing to survive over the race course.
New Crew member: Invite a new crew member come to the boat about half an hour before the other crew members. Have the new member sign in a guest book with an email or phone number. You now have the contact information you need for the next race or if something was left aboard after the race. It also lets the crew member know you care enough to learn more about him/her. Use this half hour to orient the new member on how the head works; man overboard details; jack lines; first aid kit; sails; flotation devices to include PFDs; anchor; electronics to include the VHF, Chart plotter, depth sounder, radar, knot meter, anemometer, and light switches; spinnaker pole; sails: where stored and when to use them and any other item you may use during the race.
Provide a place to store personal gear. This should be the same location for each race. Perhaps a name tag above the storage area could add a personal touch. This also allows stuff no longer needed on deck to be placed where it can be found quickly when needed again.
Crew Comfort. Some boats with younger crew are able to hang it out on the rail the entire race! For most of our PHRF boats however, the crew may need a break down below. Discuss the food plan; ensure the crew is hydrated before the start; let them know where the snacks, if any, are located along with other drinks. For the longer winter races, it helps if some form of heat can be provided down below. Also it may pay to have an extra set of clothes and bath towel in a waterproof bag in case a crew member becomes soaked! If a crew member becomes cold, send them down below to warm up!
Discuss the race: the course, the currents, the weather, the boat position in the series, the duties each crew member is assigned. On some boats the crew duties are rotated every hour or so. This allows a crew member to helm during a race which may be the only chance they may ever have. Be patient; the crewmember only sails on your boat once or twice a month and will not be as familiar with it as you. Every time the yacht departs the dock, it becomes a learning experience. Keep the crew in the race by asking their opinions on what should be done next.
Keep the crew informed. Let them know how you did in the race and where we could have improved our experience. Also keep them up-to-date on any changes or improvements made on the boat. Remind them of the next race and after you discover who will be able to make the race, let the rest of the crew know.
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
The second race of the four-race Southern Sound Series was hosted by the Three Tree Point Yacht club on Saturday, January 5, 2013. The 30.7 mile course starts at Des Moines, heads north to Alki Point, east to round the Duwamish Head dolphin in Elliott Bay, then west to round Blakely Rock, and then back to Des Moines.
The delivery for most boats on Friday was accomplished in sunshine and a southerly breeze. Six South Sound Sailing Society racers tied up at the Tacoma Yacht Club to enjoy the reciprocal moorage with electricity and a wonderful bar and dining facility. Pax the Space Spider, Bodacious, I-5, Showtime, Koosah, and Jeff and Joy Johnsons new Benaeteau 35.5 arrived before 1700. At 1730 all sat down to an outstanding dinner. There were 19 SSSS sailors!
The evening was calm, as opposed to the Winter Vashon when the wind kept all from sleeping on the boats! In the morning all motored over to Des Moines to join the other SSSS racers Korina-Korina, Siverheels, Skookum, Genesis, and Steamy Windows for the race.
The start was a slow affair. The wind was south to southeast at around 3 to 5 knots. PHRF boats were able to carry their spinnakers all the way to Alki Point. Not much strategy on this leg of the course. It was a beautiful sight however to see the entire spinnaker fleet pass you with their colorful sails!
Upon rounding Alki, all stayed wide to the north to avoid the wind shadow of West Seattle. Most boats made the mark without having to tack.
The reach to Blakely Rock was frustrating for the slow boats in the back of the fleet, us. The winds were variable and often fell to zero gusting to nothing. All boats made the rounding without going aground on the sand spit on the north end of the rock. One year One Flew Blue, a Newport 41, spent the night and most of the next day on that spit!
Now the strategy came into the race! Which way to go on an ebb tide? A few boats went over to the Vashon side and most appeared to head back to the West Seattle side. Koosah has raced this race 21 years and we are still trying to figure out the fastest way back!! Darkness covered the course and we could see the fast boats from Seattle motoring home after their finish. Some years we could see them in the daylight, but this year was a slower race.
Out of 11 SSSS boats, 8 collected silver! Results are posted on the ssseries.org. On a special note, Jeff and Joy Johnson, along with their son Zac, raced in the NFS Cruising class and were first to finish! They had only been out on their new boat for a sea trial before the purchase a week earlier. This is a miracle! First time out on the boat, finish first in class and they are still married and Zac is proud of his parents!! Good Going!! The family had crewed on Koosah before and Jeff had crewed on Bodacious, so something good must have rubbed off!
The delivery home was wet at the beginning. We dropped the crew off at TYC and then around 2200, started through the Narrows. Richard Bigley, our esteemed Commodore, helped deliver Koosah back to Swawntown. The rain stopped for a while and the stars were bright! We arrived around 0300 Sunday morning, tired but glad to be home.
Next race in the Southern Sound Series: our own Toliva Shoal, February 9th! I know you will be out there!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Blasting Through! That was the theme of this years race hosted by the Tacoma Yacht Club on Saturday, December 1, 2012.
The weather was the dominating feature the first weekend in December for the annual Winter Vashon race. A series of low pressure systems blew through the Pacific Northwest bringing rain and LOTS of wind!
South Sound Sailing Society boats making the delivery from Olympia, both on Thursday and Friday, experienced sunshine and blasting wind and waves as the fronts passed through the area.
The Tacoma Yacht Club provided their spaghetti dinner and a briefing of the revised Series Sailing Instructions. The class breaks were posted around 2000 and then most departed for their boats or for home. Those who stayed on their boats fell asleep with pounding rain and new leaks.
0330: BAM! A front came through with very high winds and rocked the boats and zipped through the rigging. Koosah was at the dock with a Farr 30 rafted alongside. That, fast, lightweight boat was moving around tugging at the lines ready to take off! I doubt that the sailors staying on their boats went back to sleep!
The downwind start allowed most boats to carry a spinnaker to the mark at the north end of Vashon Island. Pax the Space Spider passed us half way up Colvos Passage whooping and yelling enjoying their tremendous speed! We yelled back but they shouted: we cant hear you; the sound cant catch us! They finished the 31 mile race in less than four hours!
As the boats rounded the top mark, they faced a building wind and large waves and chop as they headed back to the Tacoma Yacht Club and the finish. Most boats already had their small headsail up and several had to reef the main. The larger boats fared better in the chop and had a more comfortable ride.
After the race the winds at Point Robinson were in the mid 20s gusting into the mid 30s. There was a lot of flotsam in the East Passage which made navigation interesting. Some of the junk were logs, and should a boat hit one, damage would certainly occur. Several of the Seattle boats elected to remain at TYC and return in the daylight to avoid any collision.
Ten boats who registered to race did not. Perhaps the wind was too much?? The race was a great test of heavy weather sailing!
South Sound Sailing Boats did well with five boats collecting silver. Results are posted on the Southern Sound Series web site.
Koosah motored home after the race and arrived in Olympia around 2100. We missed all the flotsam and the next front!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah
Toliva Shoal is the third race. This year is will be held on February 9th. This is not Presidents Day Weekend. It is one week before which will allow families to enjoy the three-day weekend together. This is the longest race of the Series. It often is the most difficult race to complete. There are at least five areas where the currents will require local knowledge to punch through and, sometimes even anchoring, until the wind increases or current changes.
Friday night is always fun for all the sailors! A great meal, free beer and wine, and often attended by those who choose not to race but enjoy the company of other sailors. Toliva Shoal offers SSSS and OYC sailors an opportunity to participate in the Series without a delivery! Since we, and the OYC sponsor Toliva Shoal, you have a grand opportunity to volunteer to help! Don Waterhouse is the chair … I think this is his fifth time around! Thanks Don!
The final race is the Islands Race on March 16th. The Gig Harbor Yacht Club runs this race. It starts outside the Harbor, goes north up Colvos Passage to a mark on the north side of Blake Island, and back to the start/finish line. Several boats raft up at the public dock with free moorage and then discover the great Mexican Restaurant across the street or the Tides Tavern down the street. So! Mark your calendars! Organize your crew! Think about whom you want as your teammate; there is a team trophy! Visit the web site for the details! And please contact me if you have any questions … after all I am YOUR Southern Sound Series Representative!
Dave Knowlton, Koosah