• Star & Bar - Bring it!

    The absurdity of grown adults becoming excited over wind was lost on the excited group of giddy sailors that signed up for the Seattle Yacht Club’s Star and Bar Regatta off of Shilshole Bay. 34 boats made it out on race day for the forecast of 10 to 20 out of the South on Saturday and 15 to 25 out of the South on Sunday. Alex, aboard the Kernan 44 Wasabi, laughed that “the forecast under-committed and over-delivered, with great sailing conditions on Saturday with median winds about 18 with gusts to 22, followed by true gear-busting conditions on Sunday with 25 and gusts to 30.”

    Seattle Yacht Club developed a new course mark designation sheet for the regatta. “The race course was a bit different than the usual marks.” describes Melanie Edwards, sailing aboard Shoot the Moon. “They have the weather marks all identified as early-alphabet letters and all leeward marks identified by late-alphabet letters. Marks X and Z are reversed so X is to weather of the committee boat and Z is the most-leeward mark. It makes sense, as the marks are strictly alphabetical from weather-most to leeward-most. This new scheme was emphasized heavily at the skippers meeting...” For the windward/reaching/leeward course they simplified it even further by designating the Gybe mark as “G”, hard to get confused on that one!

    The 34 boats where broken up into 5 classes, 5 boats in the under 34 raters, 5 boats in the “Light” class, 11 boats in the “Heavy” class, 5 J105’s sailing One Design, and finally 8 boats in a 117 to 147 rated class. Crowding the short starting line with the large “Heavy” class Graeme Esarey, aboard Kotuku, praised the RC - “Keep the fleets big, the lines short, and the racing interesting.” With the new mark designations and the excellent class breaks, sailors where charging to go as Brian Watkins and his team of volunteers got things rolling on Saturday morning.

    Off the line first the fast boats in Class 1 charged off in a good solid southerly with Wasabi and Jack Rabbit heading left while Tachyon, Voodoo Child, and Eye Candy chose the right side of the course. “The left won,” says Alex, “but Jack Rabbit proved just too tough to shake both on the upwind and downwind legs, showing great speed, and out-corrected on us by a minute.” Race after Race pounded off the line in the strong Southerly keeping things active and boats racing. But with the strong winds damage began to take its’ toll on the fleet. “The Davidson 30, Dangerous When Wet, was clearly the boat to beat in the light stuff.” says Esarey, “Unfortunately when the wind picked up they peeled their primary winch off the deck. Done for the regatta...” The Olson 911, Kowloon, ran into a tough time of their own when a crew took an injury. “Kowloon had a crew member dislocate their shoulder,” says Edwards, “then fall overboard head-first. Then a second crew member also fell over trying to get the first aboard. They retired for the day, and the weekend. Shoot The Moon used just about every headsail on Saturday, which sailing with only 8 aboard meant they were very tired people after 5 races. And a friend aboard Mata Hari, squished her hand somehow but has no idea how it happened, despite the outside half of her left hand being entirely bruised completely through (from the back through to the palm).” A tough day with the strong winds and 5 total races by the end of the day, but well worth the effort - “People were obviously more focused on the racing than minor injuries and the like,” laughs Edwards.

    “Race 2, 3, 4, and 5 saw the breeze build just a little,” says Alex, “and we worked hard on refining our starts, upwind speed, tactics, and flying the largest kites we dared - sometimes the A2, mostly the A4, squeezing every ounce of boat speed out of the 18 - 22 knots of breeze and flat water, with only 1 brief round up...we saw 16 knots downwind a few times, it was a great day of sailing! Jack Rabbit was coming on strong though - with a string of 2's.” After this active and tiring day of racing Greg Slyngstad’s Kernan 44, Wasabi, held a 4 point lead over the second place boat, Jack Rabbit, in Class 1. Glenn Klute’s Melges 24, Trophy Wife, built a 3 point lead in Class 2. The big class of “Heavies” had Charlie Macaulay’s old IOR boat, Absolutely, with a solid lead over their class with almost a 6 point lead before a throwout. “Absolutely was the class of the fleet all weekend. But when the breeze built Kotuku has a waterline thing,” says Esarey, “and a Farr thing that makes her tough on the old IOR boats, especially down wind. We snuck by Absolutely a couple of times in drag races to the finish, including a photo finish in the last race on Saturday where both boats finished beam to beam, one good roll away from doing damage to our not-so-lovely 80s era spinnakers and boats.” The J105 class was being sailed away with by Erik Kristen’s #114, Jubilee, with a 3 point lead over the next boat. Finally Class 5 was once again being dominated by Laney Gale’s Olson 911, Blue Martini.

    Sunday dawned windy and as boats headed out for the 10am start Kotuku “started with a bang ... as we rounded down on the way out to the committee boat. Who needs coffee? Wake up call has just been served,” laughs Esarey. Boats reefed and pulled out #4’s for the day’s racing. The RC chose longer courses for Sunday without as many corners - wise choice for the stronger winds. But the courses couldn’t keep away all the flailing. Alex describes Sunday morning aboard Wasabi as “plagued by mishaps. Prior to starting we jammed the jib bolt rope in the tuff-luff, and discovered that one of our jib halyards was too damaged to use. Then, several minutes after the start in race 6 [the first race on Sunday], the jib zippered out of the tuff luff entirely! We lost the jib halyard there, put the jib on the spin halyard, and zippered it again several minutes later, while our competition just sailed past. Grrr. We got it together and finished the beat with a poorly shaped jib, rounded, and flew the A3 downwind to make up for lost time. On the second beat we fared better. But downwind we had a small technical issue which resulted in a fairly monster round up with the A4; we got the boat back on its feet after a short while and flew on downwind doing 18 knots.”

    Next in line on this windy Sunday was the “Lights”, and the Sierra 26 Swim Team grew to include the entire fleet of Sierra 26’s (well, there are only 2 of them... . “After rounding the weather mark,” smiles Edwards, “Dos headed toward the east and tipped over just into the bay north of Meadow Point. They wrapped the spinnaker around the top of the mast which eventually had to be shredded (I believe) to get back up. One crew member that swam to the keel to right the boat was not aboard when they came up sailing, so the skipper called to the whaler driver to pick her up. After all that they headed in, done for the day.”

    Race 2 on Sunday started windy like the first but quickly things lightened and boats where shaking out their reefs and changing to larger headsails on the way to the first weather mark. “Not ideal #4 conditions,” comments Esarey, “and we had managed to cross our halyards, so we were hosed. Got it sorted at the windward mark and our tactician (Al Hughes) found a hero shift for us inside that let us slip through to the front of the pack.” Back in the pack, Kotuku was quickly working away at Absolutely’s lead in the Heavies, leaving it to the last race to decided the winner. Wasabi had their own battle going on during the second race for the lead in Class one: “We started with the heavy jib again,” says Alex, “but those crazy Jack Rabbits again showed their chops and were very tough on the upwind leg to West Point. The breeze did a huge die-off now, going from 25 to 15 in just 20 minutes, and we found ourselves rounding with the A2 and barely keeping things rolling. We changed jibs for the weather leg to the finish, and it was enough to take a 2.”

    So it was down to Race 3, the final race on Sunday, to decide the winner in Class 1 and Class 3. Wasabi and Jack Rabbit were close and “it was down to the wire: we were only 1 point ahead of Jack Rabbit in the standings,” sighs Alex, “and the conditions now, with only perhaps 12 knots of breeze and diminishing, strongly favored them and Tachyon. (Wasabi has a harder time in under 12 knots of breeze.) All of us went left off the line, with Jack Rabbit on the left, Tachyon in the middle, and us at the boat. Tachyon bailed early, though. It actually turned out to be a good move, as they sailed right to the mark, we ended up over-stood somewhat, and Jack Rabbit - furthest outside - over-stood significantly. With the breeze down we flew the A1. It was super frustrating to have to sail the angles we sailed, constantly finding both Tachyon and Jack Rabbit just a few boat lengths behind us. The entire regatta came down to the last gybe, where Jack Rabbit went too far to the right. Tachyon pipped both of us by staying in the middle, and Jack Rabbit took a 2, while we took a 3.” Yet it was enough to stay tied with Jack Rabbit and Wasabi was able to sneak the win for the weekend after the tie-breaker.

    In Class 3 Esarey thought he had a 2.5 point lead on Absolutely after the throwout. “So we sailed fairly conservatively and tried to hang with them. Unfortunately they are faster, a lot faster in the 12 knot stuff. Boats that gybed out early found a bit more wind and we watched helplessly as Corvo, What? A Tripp, and Shoot the Moon went scooting in front of us. Absolutely needed to put 4 boats between them and us, and they did. Luckily for us, help arrived in the form of a Big Red boat, who was not about to be left out of the fight. Shoot the Moon had sailed an incredible race, and actually corrected over Absolutely to take the final bullet. Leaving us the win, by a half point.”

    With the local sail lofts under a virtual mountain of repairs and a long list of bruises, scuffs and dislocations, the sailors congregated at the CYC floating clubhouse for stories and awards. They even had a “Best Story” award which went to the swimming crew member on Dos that was recovered by the mark boat as Dos sailed away to leeward. First place in Class 1, the under 34 raters went to the bitchin’ fast Kernan 44 Wasabi owned by Greg Slyngstad. Winning the tie-breaker over the CM1200 Jack Rabbit, owned by Chester Hibbert. Class 2, the “Lights” was planed away with by the Melges 24 Trophy Wife, owned by Glenn Klute. 5 points in front of the second place boat, the Sierra 26 Uno, owned by Brad Butler. Class 3, the “Heavies” was won by the Farr 1220 Kotuku, owned by Graeme Esarey. Winning by only 1/2 of a point over the second place boat, the G&S 1 Ton Absolutely, owned by Charlie Macaulay. Class 4, the J105’s was sailed away with by #114 Jubilee, owned by Erik Kristen. Five points in front of the second place boat #89 Allegro Vivace, owned by Lorenzo Migliorini. And Class 5 was once again dominated by the bright blue blur, the Olson 911 Blue Martini, owned by Laney Gale. Finishing a whopping 10 points in front of the second place J29 Slick, owned by Patrick Nelson & Bob Mayfield. 8 fun and challenging races with some wind that really got the sailors kick started into the fall Pacific Northwest Racing Season. “SYC team did a wonderful job,” cheers Esarey, “and I look forward to PSSC and Grand Prix... The fall season has started!”

    Full results can be found at seattleyachtclub.org

    Photos by Melanie Edwards.