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2008 Race Reports

Spring Series #4
Don Armini Park, West Seattle
May 3rd 2008

(Andy Caples, Limpet #759 report)

Originally Fleet #1 planned on racing on Lake Union on May 3rd. After realizing this was opening day of boating season we tried to avoid the crowds by moving to West Seattle. We were a little supprised that May 3rd was also the opening day of shrimping season on Elliot bay. There were hundreds of boats crowding the bay, and parking spaces at Don Armini were in very short supply.
After we managed to get everyone a parking space we ended up with 11 boats on the water (the most I am told since the first Norm Blanchard regatta in 2004). There were 6 Working Sails boats (Jessie, BoB, Scout, Limpet, Habagat, & Compass Rose), and 5 Spinnaker boats (Wooglin, Charmed Juan, PGS Juan, No Excuse, & Wild Juan). It was cold with light drizzle for most of the day, but no one seemed to mind because for the first time this spring we finally had enough wind to get of a full 4 races. There was a light breeze out of the North for the first couple races which built into a nice 10kts for the final two races.

The first race was a challenge to dodge the shrimping boats & pot buoys while simultaneously keeping your boat moving through the crazed chop stirred up by every yahoo and his brother in Seattle with a shellfish license. The rain kept the telltales plastered to sails so all the captains developed kinked necks from craning to see the mast head fly. Scout and Charmed Juan won the start, and several boats at the back including Wooglin flopped on to port to get into clean air. This turned out to be a favored tack and The boats at the back made up a lot ground on the first windward leg. Many boats were caught off guard by the strength of the current out at the Duamish Head mark (which we use as our windard rounding mark) and had to put in an extra tack to get around. Downwind the fleet really spread out as the spinnakers came out on the lead boats. Stephen Jensen on Charmed Juan gets some good credit for sailing his spinnaker single handed. It was a neck and neck duel most of the race between Wooglin and Charmed Juan. Ultimately Wooglin came out ahead, having sailed past almost every boat in the fleet. Charmed Juan was second and Scout took third.

The start of the second race saw even lighter & more shifting winds than the first race. I had Limpet too far from the start line, and found myself blanketed by a wall of sails in light air. I attempted to start on a port tack only to have the wind shift around to the east enough to make it impossible to lay the line on port. I tacked back to starboard at the starboard pin only to find most of the fleet sailing back towards me on port in order to get away from shore. Since I was the only boat on Starboard I decided to use it for what it was worth and came barreling through the boats yelling “Starboard.” Unfortunately PGS Juan didn’t have enough steerage to get out of my way and despite my best efforts to avoid Gene, we managed to have a nice collision. The current was running even more out by the windward mark, and boats who seemed to be seriously over the line ended up just barely clearing the mark. Charmed Juan was the first around the mark and bore off on a beam reach back towards the center of the bay. Wooglin put up a Spinnaker, but as the wind shifted around to the North East he was hurt by the extreme angles, and Charmed Juan kept the lead despite not putting up the chute. The top three for the race were Charmed Juan, Wooglin, and BoB.

The wind and chop filled in from the North nicely for the third race, and much of the fleet quickly struck out into the middle of the bay which had been largely abandonded by the shrimp boats by this time. I was initially very exicted to get a little more breeze as this is traditionally when Limpet performs a bit better. Unfortunately that was not the case on Saturday and the critical third race was the beginning of the end for me. Everyone was pointing higher and sailing away from me. Nothing I did seemed to make any difference, and I became increasingly frustrated with my inability to get things moving. This was not the case for Wooglin, Charmed Juan, and Jessie who finished 1, 2, 3 in the race.

The Final race of the day was as steady a breeze as we have had all spring, and for once I actually had Limpet on the line with clear air, and speed at the horn. Unfortunately my woes to windward continued with several boats including Charmed Juan, Jesse, and Woogling rolling over me quickly after the start. I somehow managed to make the windward mark without additional boats passing me, only to look back at a wall of sails Scout, BoB, and Habagat eating my wind as we reached out into the bay. They quickly ate up the boat lengths between us, until I jibed into clean air on the port tack and managed to get some separation just before the 2 boat circle. As I jibed back around to make a nice tight rounding (per my rights) The dead air from 3 blocking sails quickly decelerated Limpet and there were suddenly 2 boats bearing down on my port beam with nowhere to go. Scout was the inside boat and had rights to room from BoB the middle boat, but not from me (the boat mid way through rounding, but going slow). BoB crashed into Scout to the inside, and as I bore away in an attempt to avoid collision, BoB ricocheted into Limpets stern as well. The real winner in al all of this was Habagat who waited on the outside and managed to round up in front of 3 boats at the mark. BoB did his penalty turn, and still managed to beat me, as I never did figure out how to get things going to windward. The first 3 boats across the line were exactly the same as Race #3: Wooglin, Charmed Juan, and Jesse.

Spring Series #3
Lake Union, Seattle
April 12, 2008

I have always enjoyed sailing on Lake Union. The tactical situations are different being a small lake, the winds tend to swirl around, so some local knowledge helps, and the sights with all the seaplanes, the house boats, the multimillion dollar yachts, (ok, now I am getting depressed) makes for an interesting day.

Add to that the beautiful 70 degree weather and this race day on Lake Union was one to remember.

Oh, yeah, we had 11 boats show up too!

Wooglin (still #40), Charmed Juan, No Excuse (Mike Dukes new boat #17), PGS Juan, Rascal, and new member Scott Laroy with Wild Juan (#630) flew Spinnakers. Habagat, TwoFourJuan, Jessie, Bob, and Compass Rose were in the Working Sails class. Compass Rose skied her main halyard so decided to sail around under jib and watch the rest of us.

Winds were out of the north when the course was set up. Shifted to the west before the start then died completely. So the start was delayed. When the winds filled in from the south we got the first start sequence underway. Right at the start, the winds started to die again and swung 180. Out came the spinnakers on the upwind leg. Charmed Juan got there first with Wooglin close behind. Winds started to die again and it was a long time getting to the green nun at the north end of the lake. Wooglin was faster going up wind but not pointing as high, still she passed Charmed Juan. When she tacked over, she was in a hole but somehow got out of it and crossed Charmed Juan on Starboard and had to change course to avoid. Charmed Juan now had a 360 penalty turn. On the way to the Green nun, the winds clocked again and the Spinnakers came out again. Charmed Juan got to the Green Nun first and rounded. After rounding, she tacked and then gibed completing her penalty turn and formed up right beside Wooglin. Wooglin, with her superior speed up wind was able to pass and take the first race. BoB crossed in third, PGS Juan fourth, and No Excuse fifth.

The winds now were consistently from the south now so the first leg of the second race was to the Red Nun. Wooglin got there first but was on port approaching the mark, she tacked over right in front of Charmed Juan and Charmed Juan had to change course to evade. However she did so after Wooglin was past head to wind. So the question is, did Wooglin foul Charmed Juan? On the down wind leg, both boats were neck and neck going almost dead down on port tack toward the west end of the lake. Charmed Juan gibed over to starboard to get rights on Wooglin. When Wooglin gibed, Charmed Juan had to hold proper course. Wooglin got ahead and Charmed Juan went behind and to windward steeling Wooglin’s air, Charmed Juan was able to pass her and get far enough ahead to break the overlap so she didn’t have to give any room rounding. Once rounded, Charmed Juan just had to keep Wooglin in her wind shadow and keep her between Wooglin and the finish line. A short tacking duel and Wooglin was unable to break the strangle hold and Charmed Juan crossed the line first. The first two boats had a large lead and several were trapped down at the leeward mark as the wind died there. No Excuse was third, TwoFourJuan foruth (first in working sails) and Jessie fifth.

Our last race was a short course. I set a gibe mark off to the south east end of the lake and we use that for the last race. The fast boats were using the east side of the lake to make it to the red nun first, and indeed Charmed Juan and Wooglin were riding the lifts right up to the mark, but BoB saw something and tacked over to the west end of the lake early and was first to the mark. Charmed Juan tacked too early and had to tack again and let Wooglin round second. Wooglin and Charmed Juan passed BoB after bring out the chutes but were engaged in their own little battle and let BoB slip by after the Gibe mark. Wooglin was able to hold her spinnaker up a little longer and stayed ahead of Charmed Juan for second. PGS Juan was fourth and Habagat was fifth.

Spring Series #2
Coulon Park, Renton

OK, so I didn’t check with the City of Seattle to see if Magunson Park would be open. I didn’t think I had to unlike Stan Sayers with the bicycle Sundays. So you can imagine our confusion when we got there and found the launch ramps closed and undergoing a major renovation.

OK, Where to now? Coulon was the best choice as it was the easiest to get to. So we left at 11:00am and headed to Renton.

Gene had more trailer problems on the way and Andy and Fausto stopped to help so we didn’t get a start until around 1:30.

The weather reports were the other problem for the day, chance of showers with a snow advisory.

As always, I set the course and as soon as I was out setting the leeward mark, it became the windward mark. While waiting for all the boats to get out the winds kicked up to 15+. By the time of the first race it was a reach – reach and had settled down to 5-10. The auto horn system was not set to our 5 minute sequence so it was sounding every minute. Had to cancel that start and start another. With 48 seconds to go, the official stopwatch got bumped and stopped. Scratch that start. Finally, we got a good start in on the third try.

During all this, the wind clocked a little and we were now headed to the leeward mark. I didn’t want to change it and have to start another sequence.

Charmed Juan was first around the marks with Jessie a close second. Limpet came in third with Habagat fourth.

The second race started off without any hitches. We reversed the course and most of the boats were on starboard tack. Charmed Juan tacked over to port and thought they were enough ahead of Limpet to cross but it didn’t work so Charmed Juan had to do a 360. PGS Juan was first around the windward mark with Charmed Juan second with Jessie and Limpet close together.

Charmed Juan was able to stay inside PGS Juan and had to maintain proper couse but was able to stay with her and call room at the weather mark. Scout was passing Limpet on the outside and Limpet took her up. The two boats got a little too close and Limpets whisker pole touched scout so scout had to do a penality turn. After that, they both headed to the mark where they encountered Jessie and Habagat. Limpet was just a little too close to Jessie while trying to change sides and her bow pulpit brushed the outboard so Limpet had to do a 360.

Charmed Juan crossed in first and it looked to be an interesting finish for second. From the side it looked like PGS Juan was a couple of inches behind Scout with Limpet just a little behind. Approaching the line, PGS Juan got ahead by an inch but not on Scout. Scout had to shear off as she did not have right to room at the finish pin. Limpet took over third with Jessie fourth. After swinging around 360 degrees`` to avoid the finish line pin, Scout took fifth.

It was now 2:50 and everyjuan wanted another race except PGS Juan. We ended up regretting that decision. It started to rain on the way to the windward mark. Charmed Juan was first with Jessie close behind. On the downwind leg, it started to hail and then the wind died. So we were sitting in a hail storm waiting for the wind to come back. It did after about 5 minutes. Charmed Juan was again first around the leeward mark with Jessie second and Limpet third. It ended up that way at the finish.

Just as we were heading in it stopped raining. As soon as we started to de-rig, it started to hail again.

It will take days for everything to dry out.

Spring Race #1
Coulon Park, Renton

Well, it didn't rain heavily on us today, just a couple of sprinkles as 8 boats took to the waters off Coulon Park. Winds were light and faded to nothing by the end of race #2. We got to test out the new start line pins and the automatic horn system. The pins are much more visible than the old ones (these have fluorescent orange flags and sit higher off the water) and the auto horn worked well relieving me of much of the pressure of getting a good start. It's also quite loud. I have to flip the switch to start it and start my stopwatch so I can't plug my ears, I'll need to start wearing hearing protection during races but it's well worth it.

In Race #1, BoB got a great start and lead to the weather mark. I was thinking maybe he will step up and stop Wooglin. Unfortunately Wooglin's spinnaker put him ahead by the leeward mark and he settled for second.

Mike Dukes aboard his new boat he has named "No Excuse" had crew for the day and was able to use his spinnaker to come from behind and ended up third. Scout took fourth in both the first and second races.

In the second race, the winds died to almost nothing on the downwind leg. Wooglin again took first with No Excuse second and Bob Third.

Jim Miller aboard Jessie, a new boat to Fleet 1 this year, was late getting into the water so ended up getting a late start but due to Charmed Juan hitting the finish line pin and had to refinish ended up in seventh in the first race and sixth in the second.

There must have been some sort of altercation in the first race between Limpet and Habagat as Habagat did a 720 turn. We only have a 360 penalty rule so either he fouled twice or he really did something bad and wanted to make amends. Limpet was 5th and Habagat 6th.