Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Race To The Straits May 2 & 3 2015, Will Our Great Sailing Weather Ever End?

Last weekend was the annual Race To The Straits(RTTS). 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.

I missed last years RTTS due to an injury. So this year was the first time I have raced my boat alone in two years. Yes, I always enter the Singlehanded division. Unfortunately, I was the only singlehander and was racing against myself...well and quite a few doublehanders too!

Our sailing weather has been exceptional this spring. And Saturday morning was no exception. The sun was out and the wind was from the north at around 10-13 knots. This year, I set the #3 jib. As long as the wind stayed above 10 knots, the boat seemed happy and moved well.

I hit my starting time perfectly and started the long beat to Port Townsend. I soon started overtaking boats that started ahead and stayed ahead of boats behind. After a couple long tacks across the sound, I found myself near Apple Cove Pt where I got sucked into working along the beach. Probably not the smartest move. When I finally settled down on port tack, I made one long tack to Mutiny Bay on Whidbey Island. Even though the current was now flooding, I made better progress than short tacking the Kitsap County shore. I took port tack close to the beach, tacked and had a perfect line along the bluff to the Double Bluff buoy. By now, the current was really ripping. I could see a lot of boats having trouble rounding the buoy. I held my starboard tack through the gate and decided to head straight to Marrowstone Island and look for current relief and westerly shift to the winds. I was alone as most of the boats stayed on the Whidbey Island side. As I crossed Admiralty Inlet the currents lightened. Things got strange near Marrowstone Island and the wind lightened some. I worked the beach, got current relief and port tack lifts. Soon other boats started showing up. Since the winds lightened, I changed headsails to the heavy No.1. The port tack lifts allowed me to parallel the shore and I muscled through the flood current at Marrowstone Pt. From there to the finish, I took a long tack nearly to Pt Hudson and a couple short tacks to the finish.

After getting settled into a moorage spot in the Pt Hudson marina, I went to the Maritime Center for another great Sloop Tavern Yacht Club party and dinner.

On Sunday morning, once again the sun was out and the forecast was for good winds all the way to Seattle. The winds were light at the start at about 5 knots. I elected to start on starboard to avoid as much of the ebb current as I could. After a short reach on starboard, I jibed and headed toward the north shore of Marrowstone Islands. Some boats that started ahead of me stayed too far from the island and were pushed north. The wind increased to 10-12 knot just in time to sail up the river at Marrowstone Pt. From past experiance, I knew that you had to be almost so close to the point that you felt you could walk ashore. This time was no exception. I rounded the point and tucked in closer to Marrowstone Island. I brought the pole back and ran most of the way down Marrowstone Island. A number of boats peeled off early and sailed across Admiralty Inlet in the maximum ebb current. I finally jibed and headed toward Double Bluff. As I neared the Whidbey Island shore, the wind seemed to get lighter. One more jibe was to take me past the buoy. Sure enough, I messed the jibe up and wrapped the spinnaker around the headstay about three times. Now what do I do? With the autopilot pointing the boat in the right direction, I lowered the halyard a ways and was able unwrap the mess. From Double Bluff, again it was pole back on starboard past Point No Point almost to Apple Cove Pt where I made a flawless jibe(this time) and headed toward the finish at Shilshole. The winds built and came forward and by the time I crossed the finish line, I was doing eight knots on a reach.

It was a fantastic weekend for a race, both days were sunny and warm with great winds. Since I was the only single hander, After not sailing the boat much in the last year, I started feeeling rocky and unsure of myself. But by the finish, I felt a lot more confident in my sailing abilities. I won my class by default. But here is a link where the results for all the boats can be found:

Thanks to Sloop Tavern Yacht Club for organizing another great event!
 Pt Hudson Marina filed with nearly 110 boats.
 Pt Hudson Marina filed with nearly 110 boats. Sloop Tavern Yacht Club rents the entire marina for the weekend. The Maritime Center is the building in the background.

 Look Ma! No hands. The autopilot is doing a good job of keeping the boat pointed in the right direction while I am cleaning up after a jibe at Marrowstone PT.
Photo: Jan Anderson
 Here is the North section of my track for Saturday. Things got a little strange near Liplip Pt, but finally everything straightened out. I could not get the GPS to cough up Sundays track.
Here is the South section of my track for Saturday.

EDIT: I was finally able to extract Sunday's track from the GPS

 Here is the North section of my track for Sunday.
 Here is the South section of my track for Sunday.