Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whidbey Island Race Week-2010

Whidbey Island Race Week is the third week of July and is five days of sailboat racing, partying, pranks and silliness. It has also been referred to as "Adult Summer Camp".

This year I had the privilege of being invited to race aboard "What? A Tripp!" a Peterson 37. I have never raced on this boat before, but skipper Gary invited me about a month before. This boat and crew have a great reputation in Puget Sound for being a very competitive boat, so I quickly accepted and packed up my sailing gear.

The format for race week is 9 classes of one design keelboats and tightly grouped classes of handicap racing. Races are held outside of Oak Harbor in either Penn Cove or Saratoga Passage(depending on wind direction). We raced in class P3. This class is sometimes referred to as the "Furniture 40" class because it often consists of older somewhat heavier boats in the 35-43ft range. The class was not that large, a couple boats dropped out just before Race Week started, one from some damage and lost and destroyed equipment and rigging incurred a few weeks earlier. The class was still very competitive.

The first day of racing on Monday was a bust. The race committee waited most of the day for the wind to fill in and then set a fairly long course which we could not finish. The rest of the week the wind filled in enough each day to get in 11 races in four days, three races a day on Tuesday through Thursday and two on Friday. The racing is usually multiple laps of tight buoy races. The RC does a good job of trying to keep the starting line square and the marks directly up and down wind.

My job was to work in the pit. I tailed halyards during hoists, set halyard tension, raised and adjusted pole height, dropped the spinnaker and adjusted the foreguy. It was a lot of fun working with a well trained crew. I was a bit insecure at first(and did trip one halyard inadvertently the first day), but felt like I did my job well and added to the effort.

The entire week, our chief competition was "Shoot The Moon" a Peterson 40. We virtually matched raced them the entire time. They owed us a small amount of time. We started the week leading them for two days, but then they had a run of firsts, often correcting on us by only 5 to 20 seconds! When it was over, STM beat us for the week by two points. Our score of first and second place finishes was very respectable, but STM was just a little bit ahead.

The post race partying was typical with bands, dancing, award presentations, volleyball and something called a "Bacon Off" which would be sure to be a artery clogging event! Thursday night is the boat "renaming" night. A few of our crew participated late at night.

Thanks to Gary and the rest of the "What! A Tripp?" crew for giving me the great opportunity to race with them and providing me with a place to sleep and eat.

Results can be found here:

Boats racing in Saratoga Passage on Thursday.
My ride for the week.

Boats at the dock.

One of the boats that was renamed on Thursday night (AKA Teddy Bear).

Friday's crew on "What! A Tripp?". We were missing two people, one who was taking the photo and our sewer rat who slept until we needed him.

Motoring out to the start.

The fleet motoring out to the start.

Spinnakers racing in Penn Cove.

Spinnakers in Penn Cove.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Over The Mountains.

I have been watching the weather(and my busy schedule) and chose today to take a motorcycle ride to central Washington and back. I rode over Chinook Pass, through the Yakima River Canyon and I90 over Snoqualmie Pass to return.

The weather was perfect. It was a little cool on the western approaches to Chinook Pass, but as soon as I crested the summit, it warmed up. The traffic was light on most of the ride and even the boring(to me) I90 highway over Snoqualmie Pass was pleasant. Even the ongoing construction was not disruptive.

I have not been on some of these roads in a long time. Probably the last time for the Yakima River Canyon Road was the late 1960's.

I made a side trip to Roslyn(where "Northern Exposure" was filmed) and a quick stop at the Factory Outlet Stores in North Bend.

The traffic through Tacoma was stop and go and by the time I got home in the afternoon, the temperature was warming up. I was tired by the time I got home.

Total riding distance: 360 miles.

Mt Ranier and Lake Tipsoo. The lake is still partially covered with snow and the parking lot is completely plugged with snow.
Mt Ranier.
Looking east down the valley from Chinook Pass.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I am not a senior! I'm not, I'm not I'm not!

I need to confess. I have been in denial for a long time. And I need to come clean and finally admit that I am a SENIOR. That is a hard thing for me to do. I still feel young. I probably need help coping with my denial!

About 20 years ago I discovered bike racing. I was 35 years old and the cycling federation called the racers over 35 "veterans" implying our years of experience. There were some fast guys in that category. I was not that good at road racing, I am a bit large to fly up hills, but I do have good endurance. I was good at mountain bike racing and in another off road event called cyclocross, I had a national ranking one year. I quit racing about 10 years ago.

Last week at the bread store(where I claim a discount for being a Se----), I noticed an add in the window advertising the Bremerton West Sound Senior Games. I knew of this from past years, but had never entered. They offer many sports including basketball, tennis, track and field, horseshoes, disc golf, swimming, cycling and many others. The criteria is an age of 50 or older. I started thinking this might be fun and the only thing I could do was cycling. So after an email to the organizer to determine that I could still enter, I submitted my entry fee(including late fee).

I researched the times for the last two years in the cycling time trial and knew I had my work cut out. These are some fast guys! A Tuesday practice of the 7 mile course did not inspire much confidence. My practice time of 21:13 was much slower than most of the riders in my 55-59 year category. So, I installed my old aero bars and rode a couple of days to make sure I could control the bike safely. I have not used aero bars in at least 15 years and never on my current road bike. I was surprised that I was stable.

Saturday, the time trial was at 1330 north of Poulsbo on the Big Valley Road. I was intimidated by the number of high end carbon fiber, aero shaped time trial bicycles. These guys looked formidable. And here I was on an aluminum tube framed bike with add on aerobars!

The participants started at one minute intervals. I started in the second group for the 55-59 year olds. I got up to speed and dropped down onto the aero bars. I stayed down on the bars all the way to the turn around. I was able to really keep my speed up and my breathing under control, but thought I should have been able to get to the turnaround sooner. The return is up a slight hill. This concerned me the most. I got off the aero bars and rode on the hoods to keep my chest open so I could get plenty of oxygen. I surprised myself by keeping up a very fast pace. I passed one rider at the top of the hill and one guy from behind passed me. I went back on the aero bars and stayed on them until the finish. I posted a 19:29 which was good enough for second in my age group. I was extremely happy. The guy that past me was in my group and set the fastest time of the day in the 16-17 minute range! He was one on a specialized time trial bike.

The organizers of the Senior Games sponsored a dinner Saturday night for all the participants. It was fun to meet up with some of the people I have not seen in years.

Now I can get back to being in denial: I am not a senior! I'm not, I'm not I'm not!

Website for the games:

After the time trial.
Great looking group of cyclists!

Craig(75-80 year old group) and I with our 2nd place silver medals.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cruise to Liberty Bay Fireworks-July 3

Poulsbo, Wa is a quirky little town on the shores of Liberty Bay. Poulsbo is decorated in a Scandinavian theme probably because the early residents were Scandinavian. The town has many shops and a "to die for" bakery. Also for a small town, they put on a killer fireworks display! The fireworks are on the 3rd of July. This allows people to watch fireworks on the 3rd and then go somewhere else to see lesser fireworks on the 4th. The fireworks are shot from a barge anchored in the bay and boaters from around Puget Sound plug the bay to watch.

My yacht club(West Sound Corinthian Yacht Club(WSCYC)) usually schedules a cruise for the evening. Since I moor about five miles away, I volunteered to go early and stake a claim on a good spot near the "line of death" around the barge. Later arriving boats were told that they could then raft up to me and with additional anchors set we could be secure for the evening. Also, an evening pot luck diner and breakfast pot luck are planned. In the past we have had large groups of boats and a large variety of good eats.

I arrived at about 1223 and anchored in an open area near the buoy line. Boats started showing up a couple of hours later, first Emerald Lady and then Sea Rose. Toward evening other WSCYC boats showed up and anchored near us, but would not raft up with us. Hmmm! Whats with that? More boats showed up and rafted with the second group. Oh well the three boats in the WSCYC raft and one more that showed up later shared our culinary creations and had a good time.

The fireworks were awesome! Not a long display, but lots of energy. And the night was clear and calm giving us a great view.

In the morning, the three boats in the WSCYC raft(one left in the evening), again shared breakfast and everyone had plenty to eat. The wind was light out of the south. I sailed away from the raft and had a good beat out of Liberty Bay, thru the narrow pass near Keyport and home to Brownsville. Lots of boats leaving at the same time created quite a traffic jam near Keyport.

Next year I will let someone else pick the anchoring location.

Short video of some fireworks.