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Blakely Rock Blows

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    started a topic Blakely Rock Blows

    Blakely Rock Blows

    Kurt Hoehne Reports

    The Carol Pearl Blakely Rock Benefit Race is usually a great excuse for the casual racer to have a low-key race to Blakely Rock and back to Shilshole. It draws a lot of boats out of the woodwork for racing that isn't considered too serious. This year it was more than that.

    Ed.Note: At the end of this post is a great tack-by-tack description by winner Ben Braden, plus some thoughts on dropping out. Well worth reading!

    With morning winds in the 30s and gusting into the 30s, Saturday was not the best day for casual racers. Fortunately, many decided on discretion being the better part of valor and chose to stay at the dock or head home when it seemed too much. As Bruce Hedrick said in his brief Friday, "'The question was “How do you define heavy weather?' The answer is that you define what heavy weather is and that is the point where you and your crew are no longer comfortable sailing in the existing conditions and there exists the possibility of hurting someone or doing damage to the vessel."

    104 boats were registered and 39 completed the course.

    It was actually very interesting to watch the boats setting up before the start. The racers had their small jibs up, but many soon realized a reef in the main was also called for. That's not something we see a lot of on Puget Sound. Boats with furling got to find out just what their headsail looked like rolled up partway.

    As the classes headed out from under the lee of West Point into the teeth of the southerly, VHF channel 72 seemed an endless stream of "This is the yacht So-And-So, retiring" followed by acknowledgement by the race committee.

    all photos © Jan's Marine Photography

    It was a hard beat up to Blakely Rock. Most boats held port tack to the west side of the Sound before tacking to starboard. One boat that didn't was Ben and Jennifer Braden's Moore 24 More Uff Da. They chose to play the east side of the Sound and it worked out great for them, launching them ultimately to first overall. Of course the conditions were Moore 24 perfect for the run back to Shilshole. Second overall was Alex Simanis and Poke & Destroy with third going to Mark Brink and Tonic.

    The wind lightened up at times, but there were still some gusts to deal with as bulk of the fleet was finishing. There were a few roundups and white knuckles, but apparently no major damage. Dan Randolph aboard Nefarious reportedly "found the rock, and was glad it wasn't a whale." Last year he was severely injured when his boat hit a whale while motoring.

    This year the race benefited MY SAIL, an organization dedicated to promote multihull sailing for the "next generation of enthusiasts.

    Congratulations are in order for all involved, particularly for the skippers who played it safe. Results here.

    Moore Fun on Uff Da
    By Ben Braden

    We stayed high off the start, went from near the boat end and stayed high. When it looked like I was going to get outside of West Point I tacked up towards a point halfway between the point and green marker then tacked back to port for the slog across. There was great positive current by staying high and near the point's pressure point on the current,. And I don't like sailing into Murden Cove. We came across at the south end of Murden cove near the pilings and then the standard westerly shift kicked in. Tonic tacked back just after Yeomalt Point after a starboard tack header and I held on just a little too long and ended up lifted back up 20 degrees so I didn't want to tack - Tonic made out on that one and easily pulled ahead of us. One more tack into the red nun and then it was starboard tack all the way to the Rock. We were sixth around and the second spinnaker up behind Tonic, Mark Brink's boat. Jim Marda was so far off ahead in Eye Candy we could barely see him.

    The wind was honking till we got the Rock - seemed to be hitting 30ish at times but we didn't know exactly as we only have depth and a compass. Went on the fact we were twisting the sails a little for speed and there was streaking on the water as our guides on windspeed. When we rounded, the winds dropped to 12ish, just barely capping. Once we got past our disappointment about the light downwind we settled into enjoying the sun and beautiful day it had become. I stayed as low as I felt comfortable downwind, a little above Tonic's line and we both plugged along down the Sound until about a mile or so from West Point when the next breeze came through and we moved weight back and were off on a plane through the no flying sails boats. We were zooming but the wind was super squirrelly - my helm was extremely active to keep the boat on a plane and under the spinnaker.

    I can't tell you how fast we were going in normal sailors terms (previously mentioned depth/compass only) but in Tertiary Moore Dementia Syndrome (ed. note.: well worth reading) terms we were at the two crew wahooing and another giggling speed with four big smiles zooming. The bow spray was back around the mast with the boat flat but not full on bow down planing. We caught Tonic at the mark, and I want to say that Tonic did a very impressive take down on their spinnaker with just 3 aboard. Tonic rounded just in front of us with the Gay Morris's Thomas 35 Francy just behind for the short beat to the finish in the strong breeze. Both the bigger boats pulled away from us to weather so I think we ended up finishing 4th across the line and definitely 2nd spinnaker boat behind Tonic. It was great racing against Brink again, miss him in the old Lady Bug and notably absent was Nate's Olson 25.

    My quick look at the results show me 38% of the boats finished the race and I've seen a number of comments online asking why so many boats dropped out as well as conversations after the race. I must say that I was very impressed with the decisions by my fellow skippers to continue the race and just as impressed with those that chose to head in or not leave the dock. I did not hear about too many issues and/or calls for assistance and that tells me the skippers that decided their boats or crew were not up to sailing in gale conditions made the difficult but correct decision and those that stayed out and finished correctly had their boats and crews ability in mind. That to me is proper seamanship in our sailing lifestyle. I commend and defend those decisions to head back to port, I understand how hard that decision can be. My boat and crew have sailed in similar conditions a number of times recently; our Nationals regatta last summer was sailed in 30 to 40 knots, so I knew we were up to the challenge. Had I a different crew with less experience my decision to stay on the course may have been different.

    Nate Creitz congratulated us online saying something in the order of congratulations, it isn't your first and won't be your last. My wife Jennifer, being the civil engineer she is, wanted the truth and looked at the past results. I thought we had won the overall once before this, she found a third. Interestingly though, two of them were quick races - 2.5 hours on the course - obviously another windy race day like Saturday. The other, the first time we won this race overall was 5.25 hours on course. Interesting.

    The spinnaker is drying in the basement and the dehumidifier has filled and been emptied once and I'm sure in need of another dump - everything is back in order.