Never saw anything less than 15 knots up the coast, most of the time it was 20-25, with gusts to 35 knots. Boat speed was consistently 8-10 knots, lots of bursts to 12+.
But, it also poured rain from the moment we left the docks, until half way down the Straits. And, I mean poured. Everyone was soaked to the skin and cold. At one point, Paige, one of our crew and a pretty tough chick, said to me, ‘Can we turn the heat on?’
I think we were competitive up until we broached in one of the 35 knot gusts. The spin pole managed to pop off its bayonet mount and through the only heavy spinnaker we have, tearing a nice gash. We also broke 3 battens, which stuck out of the side of the mainsail. We had to dial it back after that, but still managed to finish middle of the pack.
Total time was about 26.5 hours for an average speed of about 7.5 kn. The fastest I'd ever done the race before was 38h, but it's usually closer to 48h. Now, sitting in Victoria, drying out the last of the cushions and bedding.”
And, so it went for the twenty-nine yachts that started the annual Oregon Offshore Race on Thursday, May 8th. The race starts off Astoria, OR, the last seaside town at the mouth of the Columbia River, a body of water notorious for the collision of powerful offshore storms sweeping in from the northwest running up against the offshore flowing Columbia River— the combination has humbled many seasoned offshore sailors with giant, steep, breaking “chop” in the 6 to 10 foot category!
The race itself is pretty simple, start off Astoria, head north up the Oregon and Washington coastline, turn right at Cape Flattery, head down the Straits of Juan de Fuca and finish off the picturesque harbor of Victoria, BC on the Canadian side of the channel— an often spectacular 193nm adventure around some of the world’s more spectacular coastlines and headlands.
The boys on the J/105 FREE BOWL OF SOUP reveled in the stormy, “fresh to frightening” conditions. According to them, “it was quite a run! Finished at ~4:40am, just under 21 hours. Hot towels and champagne on the dock from CYC making up for some cold, tired, and wet Soup folks. Lots of time in the teens, with top score of 16.5 knots!” Furthermore, they said, “We were all crossing our fingers that the forecast would hold, and it sure did... Almost all under spinnaker, with just a few hours of jib time coming off the coast near Umatilla Reef as the wind switched from SE to the predicted Westerly in time for the run down the straights. We were blown away about what we were seeing out of the J/105, was just lit up!” Here’s an onboard J/105 "Soup" sailing video clip to give you an idea what they encountered.
The FBOS team hails from Portland, OR and have been planning on sailing in the “big three” of offshore distance races in the northwest- the Oregon Offshore, the Swiftsure Race and the Pacific Cup (that goes to Hawaii). The “Souper’s” (Eric Hopper, Doug Schenk, and Matt Davis) are a determined team and showed what they could do in the crazy conditions, not only winning their PHRF B class by the enormous margin of over 6 hours and 30 minutes on corrected, but taking 2nd overall in PHRF Division, just missing out on the overall win by only 16 minutes! You can learn more about them on the “Soup” Facebook sailing page.
Sailing in PHRF A class were a trio of J’s that not only all finished within sight of each other at the Victoria finish line, but were only separated by 14 minutes elapsed time when they crossed around half-past five AM (note- about 45 minutes after the J/105 Soup guys!). The J crews all swept the podium for PHRF A class, not surprising for them since most have either won or placed in this race several times in the past! This year taking the win was the J/120 TIME BANDIT sailed by Robert Brunius of West Sound, WA. Second was the pretty navy-blue J/46 RIVA sailed by Portlander and CYC member Scott Campbell and rounding out the podium was another gorgeous blue boat, the J/122 ANAM CARA that hails from Portland, OR and skippered by Tom Kelly (note- she won First Overall in 2013!).
Also sailing in the race was the J/42 VELOCITY sailed by Hood River, OR's offshore veteran Tom Keffer. Tom and crew certainly pushed their boat hard (as described above), but not enough to keep pace with remarkable efforts of their J/105 SOUP buddies (most likely, prudence was the better part of valor). Nevertheless, VELOCITY also arrived in Victoria safe and sound and took 5th in PHRF B class. Sailing photo credits- Jan Anderson. For more Oregon Offshore Race sailing information