Monday, April 6, 2015

Breezy Three Tree Point Race

J/145 sailing Three Tree Race- Seattle, WA (Seattle, Washington)- Great breeze and three weekends in a row! Over 30 knots for Scatchet Head, 20’s the next weekend for the Islands race and in the 30’s for the final Snowbird off Shilshole and then finishing off the Center Sound Series with upper teens and low 20’s for the Three Tree Point race.

What an incredible spring to be out racing sailboats on Puget Sound! In a race where the fleet generally worries about simply making it to the mark down in the East Passage off the south side of Three Tree Point, it was a pleasant for everyone to NOT see the CYC race committee motoring by them to shorten the course at the halfway mark! A miracle it was, quite honestly.

Those Old Norse jokers, those pesky wind Gods, had some fun with the fleet and things didn’t play out as predicted. By the time classes 5 and 6 had finished their beat through Shilshole bay and approached West Point the first big westerly shift blew across the sound. If you had been working up the favored inside by the breakwater you quickly found yourself bow down, aimed at Skiff point, and your competition on the outside simply tacking over to starboard, easily crossing your bow, hero to zero on one simple shift!

J/88 sailing Three Tree Point race- Seattle, WAA few minutes later things were back to the SSE breeze everyone had found at the start, but what this told a select few was that the wind was going to really go west as they approached the south end of Bainbridge Island and they better get their booties over there to the west and take advantage of it. “From a line drawn due west from West Point to a line drawn due east from Restoration Point you had to play the shifts as they came through,” reports Bruce Hedrick in his blog. “It didn’t work to try and get over to the west if you were sailing away from the mark. The reason was that the puffs from the WSW came in and worked their way across the Sound. So, if you were sailing on port tack you needed to tack and sail south immediately. When the puff rolled through and you were headed on starboard you needed to tack back to port to get back in phase with the shifts. You headed west again until the next WSW puff came and then you tacked to starboard to find yourself high of the mark at TTP. Once you got through the transition zone into the area off of Rich Passage and the north end of Blake Island the breeze stayed out of the SW to WSW direction and it was time to hook up the barber hauler and start reaching holding a course about 10° high of TTP.”

The J/88 hit the west side hard, tacking on the puffs as they rolled through. It was painful to watch the east side fleet working towards the mark with a better-looking VMG.  However, once they reached the area off the mouth of Eagle Harbor and tacked over to starboard it was off to the races, the west boats never tacked again and even began cracking off their sheets and slamming down the throttle as they jib reached towards Three Tree Point.

J/105 sailing Three Tree Point race- SeattleBelow them, as they crossed the entrance to Colvos Passage, the monster trucks began working through the fleet to leeward. The big old pride and joy of the chicken coup, the SC70 Neptune’s Car, was having a stellar beat with the long starboard tacks and was holding pace with the modern quick TP52 coming into the mark neck and neck. Chutes set after rolling around the point the two big spinnakers were pulling hard, bows went up and they took off in the puffs, the TP52 just a few knots faster and began pulling away from the big grey Santa Cruz 70.

As the east side boats began tacking up around Three Tree Point the small group that worked down the west side of the Eastern Passage came screaming in with a J/120 passing on the reach and rounding first for the west side group. A few of the faster boats that sailed the eastern course snuck in with the group, a J/145, and then the J/88, J/35 and Soverel 33 finished the west side rounding and the mark was left to the crowds that were tacking around Three Tree Point and readying themselves for the tight 15km port reach to the finish.

And tight it was with the westerly breeze. Perfect angles for the Asym boats flying down the middle of the sound.

J/105 fleet sailing Three Tree Point raceIt’s now absolutely beautiful out, not a cloud in the sky; winds are gusting over 20, mountains showing all around and even a few good wipeout/roundup action shots to watch in the fleet around you. The J/88 and Farr 30 Patricia battled it out surfing and planning along on the low road; the J/105 one design fleet was flying along behind them, rounding up, hanging on and running it out in the puffs. The Asym set up had the advantage, running the shorter course to Alki and across towards West Point, but wouldn’t you know it, the winds were still Southerly towards the finish and as the Sym boats began squaring off and the Asym’s began reaching up the advantage switched. Patricia then slipped right by the J/88 they had been slowing reeling in on the long reach and charged towards the finish on the shorter course.

The Sail Northwest J-88 took second by exactly five minutes on corrected time. This was interesting because the J-88 was able to carry their kite all the way to the finish, unlike some other boats that had to drop and reset just to make it to the finish line.  It was a “play the angles and catch the changes” kind of day, and each boat excels at a slightly different angle.

J/27 sailing to win in Three Tree Point raceIt was a good day all-around for most J/Boat owners on the Sound.  Class 2 saw the J/27 True North take second. Class 3 had the well-sailed J/29 Here & Now also in second. Class 4, the J/105 class, was sailed away with by Jerry Diercks and crew aboard #272 DELIRIUM. Finishing second, some 9 minutes back was #475 USAWI leaving third to #114 JUBILEE.

Class 5 had the Sail Northwest’s J/88 take second. Class 6 saw the J/35 Tahlequah in second and third went to Commodore Burnell’s J/109 Tantivy. Class 7 had a tight battle going with the big boys duking it out correcting just seconds apart. In the end, the J/120 Time Bandit took second (just 7 seconds shy of winning!), leaving third to the J/120 With Grace.  Thanks for the contribution from Ben Braden at Sail Northwest.   Sailing photo credits- Jan Anderson   For more Three Tree Point Race sailing information