Monday, January 11, 2016

Duwammish Head Race- The Race That Almost Was

Saturday was the Duwamish Head Race sponsored by Three Tree Point Yacht Club at Des Moines. This is the second race of the four race Southern Sound Series.

My race started on Friday with the delivery to Des Moines. It was very calm and was sunny by the time I got to Des Moines. Later in the evening it got cool and the fog rolled in. The weather forecast for the next day was for very light winds. By morning the fog cleared with a light breeze from the SE. I started thinking that maybe we would actually get a race off. The previous two years, this race was not started last year because of no wind (and Seahawks playoffs) and two years ago because of strong winds, lightning and hail.

We started in a light wind and started a nice reach up the shore. We jibed a lot and sailed hot angles to try to keep the boat moving. One boat disappeared ahead and we had a running battle with two others. Since the current was flooding, near Fauntleroy, we worked close to the shore with some success. Between Lincoln Park and Alki Point, the wind built some from the SW. We had good boat speed and with only a few miles to go to Duwamish Head, we were confident that we would finish a shortened course.

But then a lot of chatter started coming through the radio. The subject was that the race was being abandoned! What? How could this be? A shortened course had a 10 hour time limit and we still had five hours to go. We could not hear anything from the race committee and neither could most of the other competitors. Then boats started coming back through the fleet and confirmed that the abandonment signals were sounded and the proper flag displayed. This was really disappointing. We never quit until the time limit is impossible to accomplish. It was a nice sunny day and the wind had built some.

We motored back to Brownsville and I drove back to Des Moines.

Sunday, the discussions started on the forums started. One boat who was close to the finish line had this report:

"Kahuna rounded Alki point leading the PHRF fleet with Nefarious next boat behind. Kahuna chose the great circle route and Nefarious went up the beach. The committee boat was anchored next to Duwamish Head and it was obvious the course would be shortened. We had some of the best wind of day (7 knots) reaching up Alki beach and it was looking like a close finish with Kahuna...but saw the whole IRC fleet drifting ahead and knew what was coming.

About half way into Elliott Bay the wind shut down for both of us and we went to a head sail in 1-2 knots breeze. We were making decent progress up the beach and were about 1,000 yards from the finish behind Crossfire when we heard the 3 gun shots followed by a radio announcement that the race had been abandoned. The committee reasoned the majority of the fleet would not have finished and called it before the first boat (probably Crossfire) crossed the line.

It was frustrating for us, and I understand that the committee wanted to be fair to all the boats, but I'm not sure how the committee knew only 4 hours into the race that the wind would not fill before the 10 hour limit for the short course was reached. Regardless I respect and support the committee's decision."

This sure seems strange that with five hours of racing before the time limit expired that the race would have been abandoned. Would some boats not have been able to finish before time expired? Absolutely! That happens all the time. But to abandon a race so early in the day and not allow anyone to finish is highly frustrating.

 Five awesome J boats moored together at the Des Moines Marina.
 Great White moored at Des Moines Marina.
 Michelle, Walter and Jim enjoying the weather.
Nice view of Seattle during the motor home.

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