Back to the tree issue, apparently the recent giant tides, northerly winds and extreme river runoff pulled everything imaginable off the shoreline and deposited it in Commencement Bay. There was more driftwood afloat on the Southern Puget Sound than is standing in the forests nearby! The calls at the start line were interesting in the light air – “one boat length, boat to leeward, log ahead, don’t come up or you’ll catch the shrubbery!” Grass clippings, shrubbery, and a copious amount wood from stumps to deadheads- it was all out there, and fortunately for everyone the wind was so calm and the water so flat that it was easy to foresee these hazards and take evasive action.
The deliveries to TYC on Friday were pleasant and even a 6am start Saturday out of Des Moines was downright enjoyable. OK, a full thermos of hot coffee was helpful there. TYC made everyone feel welcome, as usual, with free moorage, dinner Friday night, use of the small boat hoist, friendly staff, and a hearty Saturday morning breakfast. The course was "innovative" this year with two virtual marks at the North end of Vashon. I've always felt Swiftsure Bank and for those that can remember back that far, the Cobb Seamount, were virtual as well, so for inland sailors to have a chance to round not only one but actually two virtual marks, a challenge to be certain.
The start was light, with just enough wind to get to the line and have steerage to dodge the debris. The forecast southerly was promising though and every time you got that little puff it was a header so spinnakers were the order of the day with the racing fleet chasing the burgeoning cruising fleet East across Commencement Bay. The tugboats must work hard on the weekends down here as two were required to plow through the start line and create a few delays. Small boats, that start first, seemed to have some advantage in these conditions because even as far into the race as the North end of Vashon Dennis Clark, in his J/27 LXIII, was still in the company of 40‘ers!
Point Robinson was the first geography gate and those that were willing to play a little West in the light South westerly started slipping north to lead the charge into the stronger winds. It was obvious light is fast on December 6th and the ability to just be plain slippery paid.
What a gorgeous day, too, as Mt. Rainier was clearly visible and you could identify the airliners by the paint on their tail every couple minutes rising out of SeaTac Airport. Boats swapped gybes and pleasantries as they hull speeded their way north to the mysterious virtual gate. Which headsail to use? How windy is Colvos passage going to be? Discussions were required and the lead boats were visually inspected as they began to heel over on their way South into the passage. Where is my weather drone when I need it?
If you ever wanted to see what a boat can do upwind sailing well, this was your day. The J/133 CONSTELLATION was deadly as they stampeded South down Colvos passage under a heavy spread of canvas.
After correction in the IRC fleet, John McPhail’s gorgeous navy-blue J/160 JAM took second. Class 2 was dominated by the J/133 CONSTELLATION, owned by Ron Holbrook.
Class 3 was not an easy task in a class of five, count em‘, five J/35’s and two J/109s! All very capable and fast designs. Taking second in class was the always well-sailed J/109 TANTIVY. Class 4 saw one of the West Sounds fastest J/105’s take third- DULCINEA. Class 5 once again watched that beautifully maintained J/29 SLICK, owned by Mayfield & Nelson, slip into first place in this always tight class.
Almost taking the spread on the day was the amazingly rebuilt J/27 LXIII, owned by Dennis Clark - taking Class 6 by over 35 minutes! Behind them in third was the well traveled J/27 TRUE NORTH.
As the sun went down on the 2014 Winter Vashon so did the wind, the lights of TYC started to twinkle as the last few boats made the slow crawl to the finish watching their hopes of correcting out on the "Big Boys" slipping away again. A cup of holiday cheer and a warm bunk never sounded better as the sails were furled and hatches were battened down for a long winter’s night.
Call your local sailmaker and convince them there is no snow on them thar hills anyway so they may as well go sailing! Have them come out and critique you at Duwamish Head Jan 10th hosted by the very cordial Three Tree Point Yacht Club. See you on the water!” Thanks for the contribution from Andy Schwenk. Sailing photo credits-Jan Pix @ SmugMug