Friday, May 30, 2014

Blake Island Race 2014- Pre Race Analysis

So, by now, I am sure that most of the readers are sick of my pre race analysis of the West Sound Series Races. Frankly, I am getting somewhat tired of doing them too. But hang in there, this is for the Blake Island Race, we are almost done with the series. If this info is of no use to you, then you don't have to read it. This race has been one of my more favorite races and by writing a "What would Dan do?" post, it helps me keep my head in the event.

Saturday is the Blake Island Race. It was the sixth race of the seven race WSSA(West Sound Sailing Association series. This race starts near Pt Herron, goes through through Rich Passage, around Blake Island(either direction), leaves Bainbridge Reef Buoy #4 to port and finishes off the Port Orchard marina. This race is sponsored by Bremerton Yacht Club and has a history of at least 40 years.

The weather forecast is calling for sunny warm weather, but winds of only about 5 knots or less. The direction in one model is variable, but others indicate NNW shifting to NW later in the day. The currents are somewhat favorable with a nice ebb most of the day turning slack at the East End of Rich Passage at about 1500. And to make things interesting, Seattle Yacht Club is also running their Blake Island race at the same time!

Here is what I would do. At the start, based on the weather, I would make a start at the pin end of the line and tack to port as soon as possible. This should get me into favorable ebb current as well as what should be the favored tack. Approaching Rich Pass, I try to head toward marker R10 in the stronger current without sailing too close to Bainbridge Island and into the back eddy along the shore. With a NNW wind, it may be possible to sail through straight through the pass. Whatever the case, I would give Pt Glover a wide berth to avoid the back eddy along that shore. From there, I would tend toward the north side of the pass if the wind cooperates and head through the pass between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island. Exiting the pass, I would be careful not to get caught in the back eddy east of Beals Pt. From here, it could be a nice reach or run to the NE point of Blake Island. Since the current could still be flowing strongly out of Colvos Pass, I would jibe into the shallow bay along the east shore of Blake Island for current avoidance. After working along the shore, I would head around the SE point of Blake Island, giving it a wide enough berth to avoid the nasty rocks. After clear of the point, I would parallel the shore riding the west flowing current.

ALTERNATE TACTICS: Since this race allows the racers to round the island in either direction, some people try the counterclockwise rounding. Frankly I have only seen this work once maybe twice. The tactics are a lot like the Rich Passage Ramble Race. With the light winds predicted, you should sail a low course toward Southworth to avoid the current. As you near the shore, you should find a nice backeddy. Sailing on east, you can find the north flowing current which will help you flow past Blake Island. This is ussually a flyer in this race and I have only seen it work when the wind died and boats on the east side of Blake Island could not sail south through the current.

Back to how I would do it. Ok, you have cleared the SE point of Blake Island and sailing west with the current. The wind could be very light hear and ahead. I might give some more distance with the island to avoid the back eddy around the moorage field, but head up if possible to cut the west point close and get into new wind. The course to buoy R4 could be a beat. When you reach R4 a decision needs to be made. If it is much before 1500, the current could still be ebbing and I would sail toward the south shore. If it is flooding, I would sail north of orchard rocks. From Rich Pass, it should be a straight course to the finish at the Port Orchard Marina. I would probably stay more toward the east and stronger current. I would also be cautious of a large whirlpool combined with no wind just to the south of the pass entrance. Many of these races have been won and lost there.

There it is, my opinion. Take it or leave it, but what ever you do, have a great race!

The current predictions for the West and East entrances of Rich Passage.

Here is the currents predictions for about 1330 based on a low of -1.2 FT.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Royal City Race Wars

WARNING! This blog post only contains motorsports related info. There is no sailing, hiking, or cycling stuff here partially because I cannot participate in these activities anyway. 

If any of you watched the first Fast and Furious movie, you may have noticed the scene where the characters went to an event called "Race Wars". This was a day of drag racing at an abandoned airfield in the desert. The Royal City Race Wars is patterned a lot like the Fast and Furious Race Wars. 

So where is Royal City? It is a small farming town in eastern Washington. A friend and I left Port Orchard early Saturday morning and headed east on I90. After a stop for breakfast at the summit, we continued east. Immediately after crossing the Columbia River at Vantage, we exited right and drove about 11 miles up to a high plateau to a small air strip about  5 miles west of Royal City. This air strip was just that, a small paved strip sandwiched between a county road and a paved parking area for farm equipment. Evidently, the crop duster airplanes use this small strip.

At the airstrip, a local car club sets up a day of 1/4 mile drag racing. This is totally a "race what you brought" style of racing. It more resembled legal street racing. For $30, you race the car you drove to the event, and as many times as you want to get lined up and staged. The amount of different cars was amazing. There was a lot of imported "tuners", Mustangs, Corvettes(including a couple 2014 Stingrays), trucks, motorcycles, a few older muscle cars, a couple of extremely fast Jeep Grand Cherokees and even  a surprisingly quick Ford Flex. Some cars were highly modified and a lot were stock daily drivers. There was probably close to 450 vehicles racing.

This racing was totally unsanctioned and without rules. There was no helmets, harnesses or roll cages required. A lot of the cars carried someone in the passenger seat and in the back seat. I was a bit concerned about the safety, but it was a accident free day. The starts were run with a tree until it broke later in the day and then starts were conducted by hand waves. The spectator area is just a paved area where we parked and could watch from next to the strip, only separated by the return road. Bring your own chair!

The modified "tuners" were surprisingly quick. Often a Honda civic would line up along side a Mustang Cobra and blow the doors off the Mustang. The Cherokees would routinely beat the Corvettes. There was some grudge racing going on too. Everyone seemed to have a good time. It was just good clean fun!

After the event was winding down, we headed home. After a stop for gas and dinner, I arrived home at 2230.
 Car lined up in the return road for their next run.
 The spectator area was next to the strip.
 Two tuners closely racing down the strip.
A tuner racing against a Mustang. This Honda Civic was very fast and likely beat this Mustang.

Two tuners racing.
A couple of Mustangs
A couple more Mustangs

Friday, May 16, 2014

Port Orchard Invitational-WSSA No. 5 -Pre Race Analysis

Saturday is the Port Orchard Invitational Race. It was the fifth race of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race starts at the Port Orchard Yacht Club, sails north up Port Orchard to a temporary buoy and back for a distance of 16.4NM.

The weather forecast is for a chance of showers. The wind was predicted to be at 5-6 Knots from the south and shifting toward the SW by mid day and toward NW in the evening.

This race almost always offers several challenges, especially when the winds are light. The current will be ebbing at the start and should help the fleet progress north, but the ebbing current actually flows south north of Illahee State Park. I have often received some current relief by sailing close to the left shore from the "Tennis Courts" until past the point just south of Illahee State Park. From there to University Point, it becomes a task of staying in the strongest wind. From University Point to Battle Pt, often the winds get lighter and variable. University Pt is often a bad place to be near and in the absence of consistent wind, some puffs can often be found near Fletcher Bay.  Depending on the time of day, current boost or relief can still be found along the Bainbridge Island shore.

After the rounding at the mark at Battle Pt, many of the same rules exist only in reverse. Stay clear of University point and then work the west shore for current assist and a lift as the wind changes more westerly. After the Illahee town dock, it is best to work out toward the middle of the waterway, looking for the flood current coming in through Rich Passage. From there to the finish, the current should be favorable by staying in the middle or slightly left. Finding wind is the most important task on this leg!

 This is the current at approximately 0930.
  This is the current at approximately 1329. 
This is the current at approximately 1700.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Healing Grind Continues

I have finally reached a milestone in my recovery from a broken hip. On Friday, a friend drove me to the Bellevue Medical Center for an appointment with the surgeon. Since we were nervous about the traffic backup through Renton, we left the house early. We got to the medical center nearly an hour early. I thought we would probably have to wait, but in a couple of minutes, I was called to xray. And a few minutes after xray, I was called to an examining room. The doctor showed up about 15 minutes later. We actually were done and left at about the time that my appointment was scheduled for.

When the doctor arrived, he pulled the xray up on the computer screen and told me that the healing of the break was "concerning" to him. He proceeded to tell and show me what he was concerned about. First, the xrays showed that the screws were loose. They did not back out, but he explained that the bone at the break had shrunk or compressed. This pushed the screw heads away from the bone. I had thought I had been feeling this earlier in the week when I was doing my exercises. I was feeling a sharp pain in the side of my thigh just below the incision.The PT person could not feel anything. The surgeon went on to explain that I could have irritation from the screws, but he would not remove them for at least 6 to 12 months.

Second, the surgeon went on to explain that since the bone had compressed, now my right leg is shorter. Great! He could not offer an explanation why the bone was missing. He was concerned about how well it had knitted together or not. I ask if this was a sign of the bone dying because of inadequate blood flow. He said that the image from the xray appeared that the density looked good an he did not think that necrosis was occurring. We talked some about bionic joints, but settled on another xray in four weeks followed by a phonecon. 

Third, the surgeon wants me to add weight bearing to the leg. For the next two weeks, he wants me to put 50% of the normal load and after that what I can tolerate. I also ask if I could drive now. He said yes! FREEDOM!

This visit left me worried. I envision perfection a lot and I envisioned that the break would cleanly heal. Instead I have a bone fracture that collapsed and left me with a shorter leg. I can't really feel any length difference and I have not noticed any pain with putting weight on that leg. But it definitely feels strange with my foot flat on the ground for the first time in over 7 weeks. I still will be using the crutches for the foreseeable future. The doctor also surprised me by telling me not to go to PT at the clinic until after we get the next xray. The home health PT person was discontinuing their services because I would be mobile enough to go to the clinic. Almost appears like he is expecting to replace the joint.

So I feel my future is sorta grim. If the doctor does not like the next xray, he may call for a bionic joint. That would probably not be as bad as what I have gone through already, but it will take up more time. Even if the current repair works, I am still going to be unable to do much for probably most of the summer. I was suppose to crew on a boat in July at Whidbey Island Race Week. That is in jeopardy as I don't think I will be healed enough to go. Another friend wants to go to Bonneville Speed week in August. I may be able to do that as that is just a bunch of standing and walking. I don't know if or when I will be able to ride a bicycle. With unequal leg lengths, it makes the fit of the bicycle wrong. I don't know if I can hike in the mountains or ski in the winter. Even mundane stuff like mowing my yard is not getting done. It is getting long and I guess I need to hire someone. 

The grind continues.

The xray showing the screws and uneven leg lengths.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Race To The Straits May 3 and 4- Pre Race Analysis

This weekend was the annual Race To The Straits. This is a two day race from Shilshole Marina north of Seattle to Port Townsend on Saturday and return on Sunday. This race is for doublehanded(two people) and singlehanded(one person). Another unique part of this race is that the handicaps are applied at the start with the slowest boats starting before 0800 and the fastest boats starting nearly three hours later. In a perfect world, all the boats should be finishing at the same time. This year, there is a record numbers of entries of 132 last time I checked.

This is a hard race to predict. With boats starting over a period of a few hours, early starting boats sail in much different conditions then later starting boats. The boats that benefit on the first day often are hindered the second day.

So, first I will review the currents. The currents the first day are basically ebbing until early afternoon. The early starting boats will see more benefit from this current with many more hours of sailing with the current than the later starting boats. If the wind cooperates, most of the boats should be past the Double Bluff buoy before the flood current starts. By later afternoon, the current should be flooding strongly and boats still on the course will need to find current relief.

 Currents in Admiralty Inlet for May 3

On the second day, the ebb current will be against the fleet most of the day until early afternoon. The first boats to start will sail the most time against the current. The ebb current velocity will continue to increase until mid day. Boats should have a plan for current relief. After rounding the Double Bluff buoy, the fleet could still be fighting ebb current, but by early afternoon, the current should change to flood for the rest of the day.
Currents in Admiralty Inlet for May 4

As I write this on Thursday night, here is what the predictions indicate. On Saturday, it looks like the winds may start out light at Shilshole from the south-SSE. The winds appear to increase to about 10 knots through the day a the fleet heads north. The winds north of Marrowstone Island appear lighter throughout the day.

On Sunday, the winds start out at about 15 knots from the SSE. They are predicted to stay somewhat steady down Admiralty Inlet. Near the finish the winds could start getting lighter at 10 knots.

With the winds from the southerly direction, I would probably head down the rhumb line toward Double Bluff. I would keep an look out for increasing or decreasing winds both ahead and behind. As I near Pt No Pt, I would check my drift toward the west from the current and head more east. Rounding Double Bluff buoy, I would plan my approach carefully. Many boats get set to the west at the buoy and either find themselves being swept past, perform a panic jibe or even hit the buoy. After Double Bluff, I would sail toward Marrowstone Pt, but at the first sign of the current changing to flood, I would head toward Marrowstone Island and look for current relief along the east shore. After Marrowstone Pt, I would be tempted to head high of the finish buoy to get out of the current, but I would be careful to avoid a dead wind zone along the north shore of Marrowstone Island.Approaching the finish is usually tricky and I would keep my options open.

The return leg on Sunday will require a gut check to do well. First it will be a beat toward Marrowstone Pt. I would probably make a few hitches toward Marrowstone Island so that I could approach the point close to the west in a strong backeddy. Assuming the wind is strong enough I would short tack close to the east end of the point in 15 feet of water(or less). It will probably takes a few tacks to get around and it will be crowded with a lot of earlier starting boat also struggling to get around the point. Once around, I would short tack along the shore staying out of the ebbing river not far off shore. Care needs to be taken not to run aground as there is a flat shelf that extends quite aways from the shore. As I approach the south end of Marrowstone Island, the ebb should be reducing and at some point, I will tack for Double Bluff. I will probably be short of the buoy and will tack close to shore for current relief. After Double Bluff, I would tack toward the Kitsap shore and short tack around Pt No Pt and along the shore until the current is mostly slack. At some point, I might tack toward the King County shore south of Pt Wells and work up that shore to the finish. The current should be favorable by now.

So there it is! I have probably said a lot more than I should. I have enjoyed this race and raced the first one and every other one except for 2006 and this year, everytime singlehanded. The organization is great and I have watched it grow every year in both quantity of boats and quality of organization. Hope everyone has a good time.