Saturday is the Poulsbo Invitational Race. This is the 4th race in the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race starts just north of Battle Point and with a south wind it heads to a temporary buoy near University Point, then north to the #6 navigational mark near Pt Bolin and then follows the shoreline to a finish off of Poulsbo Yacht Club in Liberty Bay. This course is 9.6 miles. In case of a north wind, the race is run first to #6 mark, University Pt and then PYC for a distance of 11 miles. Furthermore, this race can be shortened at the University Pt buoy or Mark #6.
The wind predictions for this race are fairly consistent at 5-9 SSW in the morning rising to 7-12 S in the early afternoon. The current will be flooding during most if not all of the race.
With the start line set north of Battle Pt, it is possible that there may be a port tack lift close to shore north of Battle Pt. If the line is set to allow it, a starboard tack start would be my preference. I would continue toward Bainbridge Island and look for the header to tack to port on. I probably would have checked for it before the start. Once on port, I would carry a long port tack course toward Brownsville where I would expect a header. After I sail into the header, I would tack to starboard and look for the small lifts as the wind puffs off the land. The University Pt mark is usually set to the west of the point and the wind is very fluky around the mark. I would approach the mark from the east.
After rounding the mark, I would probably do a bear away spinnaker set and sail NE to clear the point and get into clear and hopefully stronger air. As long as the wind is consistent, the run to Mark #6 should be a straight rhumb line course. The course will be into a flooding current, so I would be observant of the wind conditions and consider sailing higher toward the east for current relief if the wind lightens.
At Mark #6, I would be careful not to get swept into the mark by the current, get the spinnaker down smartly and sail as high as possible toward Pt Bolin. In the past we have often been able to clear Pt Bolin without tacking. I would be aware of the shoals south of Pt Bolin. Fortunately, they are somewhat flat. Reaching toward Keyport, I would be ready to reset the spinnaker as soon as the wind comes aft enough. I would toward Keyport and stay near the left shore. After the Navy Base, I would work hard at sailing high to clear Lemolo Pt. The wind will be puffy and light here and will come forward. Work up in the puffs and don't let yourself get pushed down toward or behind Lemolo Pt. The final push toward the finish is pretty straight forward, stay in the center or slightly left of the channel until past Virginia Pt. And if the winds cooperate, sail straight toward the finish at the Poulsbo Yacht Club docks.
Be prepared for anything!
The current at Agate Pass during race day.
Here is our track from this race in 2013. We did win our class that day, but placed down in the overall standings. Given the predictions for Saturday, I would expect this track to be a good template for the race. Conditions in 2013 were a lot like the predictions for this year. The 2013 report can be found here: Poulsbo Invitational 2013