Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mind-blowing Race To The Straits Doublehanded Race

J/105 sailing Race to Straits- Seattle (Seattle, WA)- Every year, the amazingly laid back, fun-loving sailors that call the Sloop Tavern YC home in Ballard, WA hold their annual Race To The Straits Regatta. The format is simple, essentially a double-handed race from Seattle to Port Townsend and back. This year, 101 sailboats sailed in the 18 keelboat divisions.   Kurt Hoehne from Sailish.com had this to report on the racing.

At what point will the other clubs take notice of what a fun race format this is? A rhetorical question based on the fact that the “RTTS” hit its limit of 125 boats several days before the race, and it’s no wonder. The atmosphere before, during and after the event is special. Let’s get to his question later. First, the race.

J/80 sailing Race to Straits regatta- SeattleThe Leg North
It was hard to find a frown in Port Townsend Saturday afternoon. The fleet had just spent 4-6 hours beating in 12-18 knots of breeze all the way from Seattle, with a boost from a strong ebb much of the way. The winners, of course, had something to smile about. But the staggered start (starting times reflecting each boat’s time allowance for the race) meant that the slow boat crews got to watch as much of the fast boats came thundering by.

The winds were perfect for those non-overlapping headsail boats that could keep up the performance by flattening out the main and not change headsails (or have to sail with the wrong one up). Boats like MADRONA, the J/120 SHEARWATER and the J/105s all thrived. Boats with genoas were stuck changing down to #3s when the wind built and changing back up to #1s as the wind lightened up near the finish.  There was the usual puzzle of fitting everybody into Point Hudson, and nearly all the fleet fit.

J/109 sailing Race to Straits regatta- Seattle/ Port TownsendThe Return Leg
The race back to Seattle presented a different challenge – the beautiful northerly of Saturday teased the fleet with some great conditions that disappeared at times and the wonderful tides of the day before played havoc with the fleet, especially getting around the Double Bluff buoy.

The orca J-pod (the enormous “killer whales”) made an appearance in Admiralty Inlet, presumably to help Dieter Creitz with his orca science project at school.

The conditions meant a lot of gybes seeking out the right breeze while staying out of bad current. It took a toll on all these shorthanded crews, especially in the flying sails classes.

That was a theme for much of the fleet on Sunday. Where few, if any, were expected to finish the full course, several did in a building southerly.

The results show a familiar list of winners. But, the thing that is truly special about this race is how welcome everyone feels, even the skippers who aren’t the serious types and the boats that haven’t seen a new sail in 15 years. There were kids, dogs, dodgers, grills hanging off about half the rails, moms and pops, and live-aboards. There’s no doubt each and every one adjusted their expectations for the racing part and had a great time pursuing them.

J/doublehanded crews sailed in a total of ELEVEN divisions! Holy smokes! That’s a LOT of most excellent race management work by the amazing volunteers at the “Sloop”.

In Class 3, Dan Wierman’s J/35 took fourth.  Scott Galbraith’s J/24 FLYER nailed the silver in Class 5.

Dennis Clark’s J/27 nearly led a clean sweep for J/Teams in Class 9.  Behind him in third was Leo Morales’ J/27 WIZARD.  Then, he was followed by John Sezer’s J/80 RECKLESS in 4th, Ulf Georg Gwildis’ J/30 gorgeous blue IMPULSIVE in 5th, David Schutte’s J/80 TAJ MAHAL in 6th and Lek Dimarucot’s J/80 UNDERDOG in 7th.

J/105s sailing off Seattle, WAClass 10 was lucky that Christine Nelson’s J/20 SLICK had a DNF on Sunday, taking 2nd as a result.  David Jade’s pretty J/35c SHADOWFAX placed 6th.

The J/105s had a fantastic time sailing doublehanded.  Probably the perfect boat for a couple to sail in this type of event.  With enough room to swing a cat down below, and have some fun racing, while not being overwhelmed in the sail-handling department.  Winning was Vince Townrow’s KINETIC, followed in second by John & Leslie Aitchison’s MOOSE UNKNOWN, and Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO in third.

J/100 sailing Race to Straits - Seattle to Port TownsendTad Fairbank’s pretty J/100 SELAH was fourth in Class 13.

The J/109s just about led a J/team clean sweep of Class 14. Winning was Kirk Fraser’s J/109 ECLIPSE, Reed Bernhard’s J/109 MOUNTAIN was second, Tolga Cezik’s J/109 LODOS took 4th, Stu Burnell’s J/109 TANTIVY placed 5th, Bill Harter’s J/37C was 6th, and Tyson Varosyan’s J/35 was 7th.  Amazing performance and kudos to all!

Crushing their Class 15 was Chris & Justin Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER, winning by over an hour on combined corrected times for both Saturday and Sunday!  Jim Fletcher & Dana Clark’s J/46 BEAUTY rounded out the podium in third place just 5 minutes off second place!

Andy Mack’s J/122 GRACE smoked their Class 17 division of mostly high-performance boats (e.g. Melges 32, Aerodyne 38, 1D35, etc).  Similarly, John Tenneson’s J/145 JEDI in the “big boat” division took the bronze in their high-flying fleet behind World Champions like Carl Buchan in Class 18.

J/29 sailing Race to Straits- Seattle to Port TownsendIn the Doublehanded Overall Division, the Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER took 3rd, Tenneson’s J/145 JEDI 3rd place, Fraser’s J/109 ECLIPSE 6th, Mack’s J/122 GRACE 7th, Townrow’s J/105 KINETIC 9th, the Aitchison’s J/105 MOOSE UNKNOWN 11th.  So, SIX of the top ELEVEN boats overall- not a bad outing for fellow J/sailors!

In the “Jack & Jill” division comprised of guy/girl teams, it was the Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER that took 2nd place to the world-famous Carl & Carol Buchan.  Then, the Kristen’s J/105 MORE JUBILEE took 4th.  Fletcher & Clark on the J/46 BEAUTY were 6th. And, the Mack’s J/122 GRACE was 7th. Again, 4 of the top 7 is indicative of how easy to sail and handle the J/designs are for male/female teams across the spectrum of weather conditions, both upwind and downwind!

Amazingly, the Sloop Tavern YC had established enough of a following/ reputation in social media that none other than Thomas Cook Travels online media magazine “Holiday” from the United Kingdom felt their quirky, fun-loving approach to sailing and the world was worthy of an “Into the Blue” feature article (by fellow U.K. sailors, of course!).   Read on here in this PDF download- Thomas Cook Travels "Into The Blue" article- fun reading!   Sailing photo credits- Jan Anderson   For more Race to the Straits sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.