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2015 Round The County


  • 2015 Round The County

    113 boats entered the 2015 Round The County regatta hosted by the Orca's Island Yacht Club

    The 76 nautical mile race, is a two day affair that, as the name indicates. goes around the county, in this case, San Juan County in the Pacific Northwest.

    Broken into two parts with an overnight party at Roche Harbor the course, goes as follows:

    Saturday November 7ththe start is at Lydia Shoal, in Rosario Strait, just East of Obstruction Pass. The course starts to the North this year, past Orcas Island, around Clark, Matia, Sucia, and Patos Islands, then continues down Boundary Pass past the Turn Point Light House and finishes for the day at Roche Harbor.

    Sunday November 8th the second leg starts in Mosquito Bay, south of Henry Island. The course continues South along the shore of San Juan Island, across Salmon Bank, around Lopez, Decatur and Blakely Islands to finish again at Lydia Shoal. An Awards dinner follows at the Orcas Island Yacht Club.

    All images © Sean Trew

    There are the long courses, intended for days that wind allows and shortened courses for when the wind does not comply, the whole complicated Sailing Instructions are HERE!

    San Juan's came alive on Saturday as a weather system dropped out of the Gulf of Alaska with a steady, yet clocking wind, gusting to the 30's and an interesting cross current to challenge the crews with some of best heavy weather sailing money can buy! The Formula 40' cat, Richard Ackrill and Pat McGarry's Dragonfly experienced a visit down the mineshaft and dispersed some of it'c crew into the cool waters of Puget Sound. All crew were quickly recovered, the boat returned to a more upright form and towed in for the evening.

    2015 was an epic edition of the Pacific Northwest classic, Orcas Island Yacht Club's Round the County race. This year was Counterclockwise, which is traditionally faster, because you get better angles with the prevailing wind conditions. And somehow, the wind gods know to pummel you when you go that direction. Sailflow predicted a blow this year on Saturday, and upgraded it the night before. Many of us doubted it would come through, but at 6 am boat call, with 10 miles to the start line, you could hear the wind whistling through the rigging on the boats in the marina, and the docks were bustling with sailors bundled up for a winter sail.

    We knew it would be good when we were planing with our main only on the way to the starting line. What we didn't know was that we should have put in the reef before we left the dock! 113 boats made it to the starting line, and the little boats were cued up to go first. On Wild Rumpus, we were making sail choices and shuffling crew positions right up until the last minutes before the start. It was a beam reach, and it was 20-30 knots. I pride myself on hoisting early, but this was a tough call. We went with the jib, which wasn't enough sail, and then went to the A-kite, which was too much and taking us straight to the beach. Even as we struggled with our kite, the J-120 Time Bandit started and hoisted and flew past us, leading the way for the second start. They were among the few boats that kept their boat right side up with the colorful sail. We got re-hoisted with the proper chicken kite, and were holding on for dear life. Pretty much everyone had their turn going sideways. Hilarious when it isn't you, and still a little funny when it's you. Dominoes, as kites hammer down, keels up. Giant choppy waves kept us all on our toes, or upside down, mostly both. A large fleet of IRC big boats were passing through all morning, smiles everywhere and just mind boggling boat speeds. Thank goodness for GoPros, because phones were all safely stowed and the photo boats were busy with distress calls. The biggest story was the pitchpole of the crowd-favorite catamaran Dragonfly. Lots of chatter on the radio kept us updated and we quickly learned the crew was all okay. We feared the worst for the boat, but they got it back right side up (there must be another good story here) without a rig.

    Eventually due to blown up gear and wipeouts and changing angles as we rounded the San Juans, it turned into mostly white sails. On Rumpus, we had a little mishap in the process of reefing which sent me swimming. Several minutes later, back on board and reefed, we were sailing in a whole new crowd of boats. Eventually, the wind petered out, and we chased puffs to the finish. Sadly, several boats didn't finish, after all the big wind in the morning.

    Sunday was a whole different story, and the bottom line was if you could get across the line in all the current and disrupted air, and out to the breeze, you were golden. 3 hours on port tack, lifting around the islands, an amazing rainbow show, and some dice rolling at finish, and it was one for the books. After party at the local bar, comparing stories, and back to real life today, a little tired and sore "but in a good way"!

    Stephanie Schwenk

    SC 27 Wild Rumpus

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