Tuesday, April 10, 2018

J/Crews Triumphant in Southern Straits Race

J/160 JAM sailing at Seattle (Vancouver, BC, Canada)- The 50th annual Southern Straits Race took place this past weekend, hosted by the West Vancouver YC in British Columbia- the Canadian side of the infamous Straits of Juan de Fuca that separate the wild and majestic Olympic Peninsula from the Canadian Maritimes to the north.

The race is a popular one in the Pacific Northwest for the offshore racing fraternity.  Like the Swiftsure International Yacht Race that sails later in the year, the West Vancouver YC has also evolved the race over the course of time to be more accommodating to the reality of today’s lifestyles.  The participants have the choice of three course- the Long Course (140nm), the Medium Course (106nm), and the Short Course (73nm).  A majority of the J/Teams participating sailed the Long Course (mostly 35 footers on up), while the smaller J’s did the Medium Course.  Here is a report of what took place during the race by Peter Salusbury who sailed on a boat called Longboard.

“This was the 50th anniversary of the Southern Straits Race classic and weather cooperated for what most will admit was a very pleasant and enjoyable race. Bruce Hedrick’s pre-race forecast was mostly spot on, though the NW wind stayed on a little longer than forecast into Saturday morning and then re-built closer to Vancouver to get most boats home early Saturday evening.

After a brief postponement waiting for the westerly winds to build into English Bay, all the fleets started in a light westerly which built fairly quickly as we passed Point Atkinson and hit the Bowen Island shore. On the long course, most boats left the Bowen Island shore after reaching Cowan Point and started the long starboard tack over to the Nanaimo harbor area. The now NW wind built to between 12 to 16 knots all afternoon. The J/160 JAM and others really legged out with their long waterlines on the smaller long course boats. The long and fast downwind sail to T10 was beautiful, with a huge full moon all night long and clear skies. On our boat, we seemed to notice an unusual amount of wood in the water and twice ran smack into substantial logs doing 10+ knots!

On the downwind leg, it seemed to pay dividends to keep tacking to port offshore every time the wind went light while on starboard tack. We always found bigger breeze offshore and made big gains on our fleet by approaching T10 from the north.

After rounding T10, we had a solid beat upwind to Ballenas (second time) with winds peaking out over 20+ knots at time, but lightening substantially after Nanaimo Harbor. Going upwind, it seemed advantageous to be a little closer to the Valdez/ Gabriola Island shores as we picked up a nice port tack lift that definitely helped us on those competitors who were more offshore.

J/105s sailing off SeattleAfter rounding Ballenas, the NW backed to more of a westerly and softened to less than 5 knots. We favored the north side of the course home, found a very nice 4 to 7 knot northerly that seldom hit the water, but we were able to keep the boat moving at 3 to 5 knots and sneak along over boats. Eventually the NE wind disappeared, and after a short period of calms (good time for hot oatmeal and cinnamon buns), a very light westerly started to build, which continued to build all the way to the finish. The smaller, slower boats on the Long Course were a little less fortunate with the westerly dying off not long after we finished, with many finishing late into Saturday evening– well done to them for persevering and getting a result! Overall, a very pleasant but somewhat ‘longer’ Long Course race compared to more recent years – but no rain, no clouds, full moon, lots of sun – none of us were complaining!

The boat that really impressed us on the Long Course was Bill Fox’s J/160 JAM who took the ORC Overall win by a wide margin– they appeared to sail a flawless race– super-fast up wind, and really managed the light air on the last leg to get the win– kudos to their team.

On the Medium Course, the J/109’s seemed to love the conditions as they took 3rd to 5th overall with a double handed J/120 called SHEARWATER, skippered by Justin Wolfe, taking an impressive 6th place overall, beating some very talented fully crewed boats. Great job to you both!

Once again, the race organizing committee deserves so much credit for making the 50th anniversary race so successful. On behalf of all participants, I’d like to thank first time Race Chairman, Mike Seper, and his army of volunteers at West Vancouver Yacht Club for making the race possible – great job, Mike! And lastly, thanks so much to all the participants who travelled from afar from home bases like Seattle and Victoria for the race – we appreciate the commitment you make to deliver your boats up and back at this time of the year and hope to see you all back next year.”  Thanks for contribution from Peter Salusbury and Sailish.com (http://sailish.com/index.php/category/racing/).

Winning the Long Course ORC Division was Bill Fox’s J/160 JAM, correcting out by nearly two hours over a TP52 and 1D48.

J/109 sailing off SeattleWinning the Medium Course ORC Division was Tom Sitar’s J/109 SERENDIPITY.  They were followed by Alex Smyth’s J/111 65 RED ROSES II in third place.

For the Medium Course PHRF 2 Division, J’s took 5 of the top 6 places. Sitar’s J/109 SERENDIPITY took the silver, with Mark Hansen’s J/109 MOJO awarded the bronze, John Peterson’s J/109 LEGACY in 4th, Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER in 5th (sailing doublehanded!), and Smyth’s J/111 65 RED ROSES II in 6th.

The Medium Course PHRF Doublehanded Division was dominated by two J/Teams.  Winning was Justin Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER and taking second was Scott Shaw-Mac & Brian Isaacs’ J/30 NATURAL HIGH.

The Medium Course PHRF 3 Division saw Ron Mackenzie’s J/37 FUTURE PRIMITIVE almost in the chocolates, having to settle for 4th place only 3.5 minutes back on corrected from taking the bronze!  Ouch.

Finally, in the Medium Course PHRF 4 Division, winning class was Phil Wampold’s J/92 ZAFF, taking the class by over a half hour on corrected time.  Taking the bronze was the Doublehanded team of Shaw-Mac and Isaacs on the J/30 NATURAL HIGH!

As a result of their performance, the J/crews did well in the Medium Course PHRF Overall scoring, with 5 of the top 8 going to J’s.  Top boat was Sitar’s J/109 SERENDIPITY taking the bronze, with Hansen’s J/109 MOJO in 4th, Peterson’s J/109 LEGACY in 5th, Wolfe’s J/120 SHEARWATER in 6th (sailing doublehanded!), and Smyth’s J/111 65 RED ROSES II in 8th.  Sailing photo credits- Jan Anderson/ Janpix.com.  For more Southern Straits Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.