Friday, May 19, 2017

J/Crews Score Big @ Race 2 Straits Regatta

(Seattle, WA)- The 16th annual Race to the Straits Regatta sailed in the Pacific Northwest had unusually nice weather for a spring-time event- sunny, northwest winds in the 12-18 kts range!  The R2TS regatta is a doublehanded and singlehanded “classic” that marks the start of the Triple Sound Series (R2TS, Down the Sound, J & J Race) hosted by one of Seattle’s most famous sailing clubs- the Sloop Tavern YC.

The course is a simple one, from Shilshole Bay to Port Townsend, WA and return. The course length is 30.036 nautical miles each day.  Saturday’s race will be from Shilshole Bay to Point Hudson keeping the Double Bluff Buoy to port. Sunday’s race will be from Point Hudson to Shilshole Bay keeping the Double Bluff Buoy to starboard.

The race attracts its fair share of J aficionados joining the fun times and the traditional post-race “debrief” conducted over barbecue, beer, brats, and other stuff (“mile high” Colorado sailors know about it, especially on Lake Dillon!).  J/Crews overall did extremely well.

Starting with Class 1 Singlehanded, it was Evan Walker’s J/29 WINGS that took class honors by over 15 minutes corrected.  Third in class was Kevin Callahan’s J/80 NAMASTE.

A similar scenario took place in Class 2 Singlehanded, with Dan Wieman’s J/35 GREAT WHITE winning their class by nearly an hour corrected time!

In Class 6 Doublehanded, taking 3rd and 4th, respectively, were two J/24s- Mark Daniel’s ROSHAMBO and Scott Galbraith’s FLYER.  Sixth was Egor Klevak’s J/22 FREEDOM.

It was a clean sweep of the top six by J/Crews in Class 10 Doublehanded! First was Dennis’ J/27 LXIII, followed by Zuzana Culakova’s J/80 JOLLY GREEN, Lek Dimarucot’s J/80 UNDERDOG, Theo’s J/30 TAKU, Wolf’s J/30 CONRAD J, and Ulf George Gwildis’ J/30 IMPULSIVE that rounded out the top six!

In Class 11 Doublehanded, Tom Mitchell’s J/35C WILDFLOWER took home the silver, followed by Paul Hanson’s J/29 PLAN R in third and David & Kathleen Jade’s J/35C SHADOWFAX in 4th place.

The pretty J/100 SELAH, skippered by Tad Fairbank, brought home the gold in Class 12 Doublehanded division by nearly 20 minutes corrected.

Class 14 Doublehanded division was comprised of the J/105 class.  Eight boats provided tough, even-handed, clean fun.  In the end, it was Erik Kristen’s MORE JUBILEE that won, followed by David Cohen’s INCONCEIVABLE in 2nd, Matt & Tessa Gardner-Brown’s DULCINEA in 3rd, Paul Henderson & Ramona Barber’s DELIRIUM in 4th and Madeline John’s REBOOT taking 5th.

J’s also dominated Class 15 Doublehanded.  First was taken by the famous J/109 TANTIVY, skippered by Stu Burnell. Third was Karl Haflinger’s J/35 SHEARWATER, 4th was Reed Bernahard’s J/109 MOUNTAIN, and 5th place went to Mehmet Tolga Cezik’s J/109 LODOS.

In Class 17 Doublehanded, the J/122 GRACE, sailed by Andy & Jaime Mack, took fourth place in their division.

Finally, in Class 18 Doublehanded (the “maxi class”), it was the J/125 HAMACHI, sailed by Shawn Dougherty & Jason Andrews, that ran off with the silver and just missed the class win by a mere 1 min 30 sec!  Here is J/125 HAMACHI’s account of the R2TS event:

J/125 race 2 straits course“What a beautiful weekend for our sixth consecutive Race To The Straits, put on by the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club.  R2TS (as its known) starts in Seattle off Shilshole on Saturday and ends at Port Townsend, approximately 30 nm to the north.  Everyone overnights and we race home the next day.  It’s a reverse start based on PHRF rating, which makes it a great pursuit race.  It has been a cold wet winter in the PNW but the skies cleared for a glorious weekend.  The remnants of a cold front on Friday had everyone starting under spinnaker with a 10 kt southerly, with the forecast for a shift to a northerly mid to late morning that would persist for the rest of the weekend.

125 boats registered and over 100 started.  The first start was at 7:47 am for Ruby Louise, a Santana 22 with a PHRF of 276.  Hamachi, with a PHRF of -3, started at 10:06 am and we only had two boats that started behind us.  It’s quite a feeling to look down the course and see over 100 boats in front of you and know that technically we had a chance to catch all of them.  Team Hamachi split up for RTTS.  Shawn and Jason sailed Hamachi (J/125) while Alyosha sailed on Kahuna (Aerodyne 38), Lucas was on Square One (Farr 30) and Chris was on Reboot (J/105).  For Jason and Shawn, this was their first time double handing Hamachi.  In the quick four months since we’ve owned her we’ve been out on the water less than ten times, and nearly all of that was fully crewed racing where everyone had a role and knew their part of the boat.  Suddenly we had to pull it all together in a real time racing environment.  To complicate things further, in typical fashion we showed up on the course late and had barely 15 minutes to set our sails before the start.  This lead to a small oversight that had disastrous consequences.

Saturday was not a great day, and it all began as we left the dock and discovered that we had four bananas aboard.  We hit the start box late and managed to get the main up just a few minutes before our allotted start time.  We positioned the boat for our downwind start and launched the A1.5 spinnaker.  As the kite started to fill in the 10 kts of wind the tack went shooting out (we overlooked locking it down in our rush) until the martin breaker tripped the clip, releasing the tack, and the spinnaker started flogging in the wind.  Oh shit… We grabbed the lazy sheet and started hauling in the clew.  Shawn came forward and pulled the foot of the sail, including the tack, on board.  We weren’t sure what to do because the forward hatch was locked and we had too much sail and wind to bring it down on deck shorthanded.  Jason grabbed the tack and released the clew and dragged it forward to secure the second tack, only to have it slip out of his hand (it was hard to hold the spinnaker in one and the tack in the other…).  Shawn came forward again and we somehow retrieved the tack and secured it.  We hauled it in just enough so that it wouldn’t re-release, and slowly got the situation under control.  This was all caught on GoPro…watch the outtakes.

Once settled we worked up the course and started catching boats.  We struggled to find our line and the wind but eventually settled in working the western shoreline.  The projected northerly was descending and a wind hole had formed in front of us at Point No Point.  We pushed up behind these boats and started drifting as well, while we watched the few boats behind us reconnect.  The boats that started much earlier in the morning enjoy several hours of the southerly, as well as a nice ebb tide, to carry them north and across the wind hole.  We started just as the tide turned so at Point No Point all we could do is sit there and watch them sail away.  Eventually the wind line descended to us and we transitioned to the Lt/Med #1 and sailed across to Whidbey Island and the only mark at Double Bluff.  Once there we tacked into Mutiny Bay pointing high and fast, putting the hurt on a lot of boats.  Tacking out of Mutiny Bay the wind continued to build and we were over powered.  We debated between the Heavy #1 or #3.  We pulled the Heavy #1 on deck and into position, only to see 15-16 kts.  It looked to be building further so we chose to instead put up the #3, only to have the wind back off.  Rapid double handed headsail changes on a J/125 is an exhausting endeavor.  We tried to see if the #3 would hold, but started to quickly lose ground to the fleet.  As a result, we dragged the Heavy #1 back up on deck and executed a second peel.  Now we were back in our groove in 12-15 kts of wind, but had given up valuable ground to Laffite’s Kyrnos, a custom 53 in our class, which in those wind conditions was flying.  We tried to reel her in but couldn’t and finished Day #1 exhausted and in 2nd place in our class.  Further, it was a day for the early boats, and we finished #42 overall.  That evening we went over to have cocktails on Kyrnos, and left our bananas on their boat...

After a great evening in Port Townsend, we hit the water Sunday with glorious conditions.  The wind was 10kts from the north and projected to build towards 15 kts, ideal Hamachi conditions.  We had a great start and successful spinnaker hoist.  This time we chose to fly the A2.0.  Being one of the last to start we had a full flood pushing us south, so sailed past Marrowstone Lighthouse to get the current push, and then out into the channel where we had great wind.  We crossed over to Bush Point fairly early to catch the rip up the shore and bombed past Bush Point.  We stayed wide of Mutiny Bay as it looked like lighter air, and passed a lot of boats on our way down and around Double Bluff.  By this point the wind had backed off to 7-8 kts (unfortunately), but we were making the right tactical moves on the fleet.  We worked the currents around Point No Point and stayed slightly wide as we continued south.  We were enjoying better breeze on the outside and passing boats, with most of our competition on the inside.  North of Apple Tree Point we had a decision: continue in and go head to head or stay outside and hope for more breeze.  The wind was coming down from the north and we thought we had better pressure and speed on the outside, so we made a few jibes to stay in the middle of the course, only to have it fade again.  Further, we watched our competition, who we had reeled in, slip away on a completely different Race 2 Straits sailing videowind along the western shore.  While the boats in the middle continued east, we jibed back west to catch the shift.  This paid off as we put the hammer down on everyone, but our move was too late to catch the lead boats that had already slipped away.  We finished Day #2 first in class, finishing over 20 minutes ahead of our closest competitor.  However, our decision to stay outside cost us finishing in the top tier, but we still placed #21 overall.”   Watch this folksy home made sailing video here, it gives you an idea of the “laid back vibe” of the race.  For more Race to the Straits sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.