Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oregon Offshore Whale of a Tale!

Whale leaping, breaching off Washington coast."Moby Dick" Stars In Oregon Offshore Race??
J Fleet Sails Fast, Safe & Place
(Portland, OR)- If you recall last year's reports, this can be one incredibly tough offshore race.  The Oregon Offshore Yacht Race, run every May from Astoria, Oregon to Victoria, BC, Canada is sponsored by Corinthian Yacht Club of Portland with support from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.  The race often acts as the "feeder" race for the Vic-Maui and other offshore events like Seattle's Swiftsure Classic.

Forgetting the rather capricious weather these sailors often encounter, the marine life can be equally as thrilling, or dangerous, ranging from monster killer whales to big fat round cute seals to even more massive whales of various types sleeping on the surface or merely jumping around for joy.  Sometimes they show up unexpectedly, like breaching near a sailboat in an apparent mating ritual.

This year, it was a "whale of a time" for one boat, a "Moby Dick" story in the making.  Their hair-raising story by crew-member Ryan Barnes was simply remarkable.  Said Ryan on a posting to Sailing Anarchy, "We were racing in the Oregon Offshore International Yacht race in 20 kts of breeze with 1.5 oz kite up. About 30 minutes after the start a grey or humpback whale approximately 30 feet in length breeched off our starboard beam and hit approximately halfway to three quarters up our rig past first spreader, then rolled off the starboard side of the boat, taking out the lifelines and crushing the toe rail as well as dropping the whole rig--- rig is gone/ deep sixed after cutting it away, lifelines are destroyed, toe rail bent/ flattened on starboard side deck, fiberglass cracks on the topside starboard v-berth, fracture cracks around starboard cabin windows, bow pulpit bent and toe rail delimitation around 60% of the boat! No water leaks, except when the coast guard towed us at 18 knots against an ebb tide across the columbia river bar, which was a little fast, but got a new speed record on the boat! Lots of kudos to our coast guard though, those guys are awesome! No injuries, everyone is safe."

Thankfully, the J fleet contingent managed to avoid the whale carnage and sail fast into Victoria Harbor.  Leading the J pack home was Scott Campbell's J/46 RIVA to finish 2nd in PHRF A class.  Third was the J/122 ANAM CARA sailed by Tom Kelly.  In PHRF B class, Tom Keffer's J/42 VELOCITY finished 2nd in class and sailed  a good race, one of the fastest Oregon Offshore classics ever.