Friday, May 5, 2017

Blakely Rock Benefit Race Success!!

Blakely Rock Benefit race (Seattle, WA)- The “milk-runs of milk-runs”– the Sloop Tavern YC Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta, took place on April 1st!  116 boats signed up to support The STYC Sailing Foundation fundraiser and after all the starting horns were done waking up the live-aboards at Shilshole Marina, 109 boats in 16 different classes crossed the start line on their way to the well-rounded, and often-bumped, Blakely Rock off the south east end of Bainbridge Island.

Think about that for a second – 109 boats – put together a conservative average of 5 people per boat and you have almost 550 people out on the water participating in a fundraiser for a very well deserved organization that focuses on promoting the advancement of youth sailing and boating safety.  Where else do you get together this many people having a good time raising money for a good cause outside of the local Elks lodge? Well done Sloop Tavern Yacht Club!!

One of those milky-grey mornings greeted the sailors as they made their way out to the starting area and true to form the all-volunteer STYC race committee set up an absolutely perfect port tack starting line.  If you’re gonna do it, do it right eh?  With very little chance to cross the line on starboard, even though boats kept trying, the place to be was at the committee boat, circling, waiting and then lining up for that easy, cross the fleet port tack start we all know and love.

Winds were light, in the bottom of the #1 range and with the south easterly angle, if you could start at the committee boat and hold your lane, you were able to sail right up into the lee of West Point before sticking your nose out into the strong ebbing current.

As more fleets started, the “high lane” was still the way to go.  The low boats either stuck there nose into the ebbing current earlier, and were in it longer, or they had to tack to starboard on the low VMG angle with their nose into the wash coming out of the locks– pick your poison.

Blakely Rock sailboats10 more classes rolled through the line after the little boats and cruising classes got out of the way.  You name it, everything was out there racing from the big, heavy teak-laden “furniture boats” to outrageously light and fast ULDB’s. Everyone was having fun on Saturday April 1st in a true “race what you brung, have a good time,” STYC fashion.

Once around West point the winds built into the top of the number 1 range and boats with heavy crews began to take the advantage back and pull away from their competition.  If you took the time to look up and west you noticed the clouds running a straight line towards downtown Seattle, no curving up the sound to suggest that westerly shift for all the boats that fought the low road battle.  Time to take that low vmg tack to the east to line up for the starboard rounding of the rock.

The ferries rolled through the fleet with only a few boats needing to tack or duck around the big wind shadows.  Now normally there is some sort of ground-breaking action at this point in any race around Blakely Rock. but all I’ve heard about is two J/Boats in a collision and them retiring from the race.  Could it be we had a race around Blake Island where not one single boat hit the rock?  Doubtful!  Someone is keeping that information close.

By now the sun is out, it’s blowing 10 to 12 kts out of the Southeast and as the spinnakers pop-up, the clothing layers pop-off, and the milk-run turns north for the long starboard pole drag race towards West point.  However, looking forward, the non-flying sails boat fleet looked light and struggling.  Oh no! The convergence hole is setting up at Meadow Point, as the wind slowly begins its move to the afternoon’s forecast for a northeasterly shift!

J/109 sailing Blakely RocksWhat’s next?  Sure enough, the fleet congregated near the turning mark at Meadow point, wind dying, current changing, spinnakers covering spinnakers, fleets covering fleets.  It got messy and light, fast!  Man, it was ugly (tactically), but beautiful for all the flying colors spinnakers! Slowly, ever so slowly the masses made their way around the mark, sometimes 3 or 4 wide and scooted towards the finish off Shilshole with the current now helping them towards the line.  Guns blaring, sometimes 3 in row as the first in each class crossed the line – what a day – wind, sun and friends all out having fun to support a worthy cause.  Thanks for this contribution from Ben Braden @  Here is how it all went down class by class.

Starting with little boats, in Class 5, two J/24s took 3rd and 4th, respectively, Mark Daniel’s ROSHAMBO and Tate Higgins’ SILVER LINING.

Class 8 was a J/Team sweep.  It was also the battle of the J/27’s with the beautiful and fast LXII owned by Dennis Clark from host Sloop Tavern YC taking the win by 2 minutes over the J/27 WIZARD skippered by Leo Morales. Third was Mike Poole’s J/80 JOLLY GREEN and 5th place was Derek S & Cindy G’s J/30 OUTLAW.

Class 9 saw the J/29s take 2nd and 3rd, respectively, with Christine Nelson’s SLICK leading Pat Denney’s HERE & NOW back home to the barn.

J/105s sailing Blakely Rocks raceClass 11, the J/105 One Design class, was easily taken by John Atchison’s MOOSE UNKNOWN.  They finished  6 minutes ahead of Tom Kerr’s CORVO-105 and 2 minutes back from them was Chuck Stephens’ PANIC.  The rest of their top five included Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO in 4th and Matt Rockett’s INCONCEIVABLE in 5th.

Class 13 saw the J/35 TAHLEQUAH take 2nd, just one minute shy of winning the race on corrected time.

Class 15 was won by the slick and beautiful J/122 GRACE, owned by Andy and Jaime Mack from Seattle YC.  Their J/122E sistership, John Murkowski’s JOY RIDE from Seattle YC, placed 4th. Kyle Caldwell’s J/44 ASYLUM took 6th in class.

In the “big boat” Class 16, John Tenneson’s J/145 JEDI from Seattle YC took 3rd place, only 10 minutes back from leading two TP52 “wannabes”.  Sailing photo credits:  Sean Trew– on Facebook.   Jan Anderson–     Michelle Neville–     For more Blakely Rock Benefit Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.