• Scatchet Head: A Pleasant Surprise!

    Story by Kurt Hoehne

    On Friday everyone was contemplating what a Scatchet Head Race in no wind would look like, swirling around with the currents at the south end of Whidbey Island. While Bruce Hedrick got the sunny part right, and he joined the chorus of computer models predicting a drifty sort of day for the middle race of the Center Sound Series. For those of you curious about just why the wind decided to make an appearance, Bruce explained "there was an over 2MB gradient from Bellingham to Seattle which was enough to drive a northerly and the gradient didn't start to flatten until late on Saturday. The high simply didn't set up as forecast."

    When the day produced a beautiful 8-12 knot northerly, Corinthian YC PRO Charley Rathkopf still wanted to make sure that if the wind shut off, there'd still be a quality race in the books, so he hedged his bets with what amounted to an extended windward-leeward, two times around. The result was a race with a lot of turns, keeping crews on their toes. It wasn't your usual Scatchet Head Race, but it was entertaining for sure. Here's Charley's explanation:

    The forecast early was really bad, and, although it was better Saturday morning, the forecast was still for it to drop, and I needed some marks to shorten at, as well as the finish line gate between laps.

    all images ©Jan's Marine Pix

    It turns out that many sailor let me know that they preferred the strategy and tactics of the course to the standard SH race. I've passed this on to the club bridge.

    Not surprisingly, in a race like this with steady breeze and lots of mark roundings, the usual suspects were atop the classes. The stage is set for the March 24 Three Tree Point Race for the overalls in the close classes to be decided. Two of the classes to watch are class 2 where Cherokee and Kowloon are a point apart and Class 5 where Different Drummer and Dos have traded firsts and seconds. Results.

    Photos by Jan Anderson. Check out all the pictures at her Smugmug site.

    A Northwest scene, Coast Guard cutter, mountains and racing.
    And, as usual, that name Buchan appeared atop to the results. But in this race it wasn't once or twice, but three times! Bill Buchan won Class 6 in Sachem, his son Carl won Class 7 in Madrona and John (Bill's brother) won the ORC class with Glory.

    Bill Buchan during his Hall of Fame induction.

    I had the great pleasure of catching up with Bill Buchan after the race. For those who don't know, Bill's won the Star Worlds, an Olympic Gold Medal, and just about every Pacific Northwest race there's ever been. He was a boatbuilder for a long time and designed the highly successful Buchan 37 and several Star hulls. Furthermore, he was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2013. We're extremely fortunate to have his quiet, professional and skilled presence on the waterfront.

    For this year's Scatchet Head Race he had Mark Brink on the helm most of the time, and the corrected time win was a solid four minutes. After Blakely Rock when he found the crew a little light, he put out the word for more crew. There ended up being 14 for Scatchet Head! The win gives Sachem two class firsts for the series. There are no secrets to the classic Peterson 44. The newest sail on the boat is a main from the local Ballard Sails loft. "We had to work a little bit with mast blocks and shroud tension. Now it looks gorgeous," Buchan says. Interestingly, he keeps a "practice chute," for a pre-race hoist rehearsal.

    One gets a real perspective when speaking with Bill. He remembers when sailing had popular press coverage all the way down to what boat passed what boat on the final leg of a race. He thought back to getting advice on fiberglass boat building from the Don Clark (San Juan boats) before moving from wooden Star boat construction to fiberglass. Currently, the top-of-the-line Stars are from the Folli shop, but he remembers when they bought one of his boats in their early days as they were starting building Stars.

    Intrepid in 1970

    And finally, we chatted about the 1974 America's Cup. As a 14-year-old boy I immersed myself in that edition and was aghast that Intrepid, the "People's Boat," with a largely Seattle crew, Gerry Driscoll a driving force and Bill Buchan at the helm, was cheated the opportunity to defend the Cup by the NYYC selection committee.

    "We thought we had it wrapped up in the second to last race," Bill said. "We came to the dock and wondered where the selection committee was." Alas, the trials went one more day. "Then we gave them the excuse to eliminate us by losing that last race." Ultimately, of course, the Cup was defended by Ted Hood at the helm of Courageous.

    Bill looks back philosophically at that episode, "Who knows, if we were selected we might have lost the America's Cup. You wouldn't want to be the first to lose the Cup!"

    * Bill Buchan did not, as was written in a previous version of this article, design the Buchan 37. Bill explains: “I had absolutely nothing to do with the design of the Buchan 37. If anyone other than my father did, it was John who was told to take the wooden “jig” of the Buchan 40 and make it shorter and beamier to rate better. He was told to have the job done before mom and dad got home from their summer cruise. When dad saw what John had done, he couldn’t believe it would be a success. Oh how wrong he was. From the first boat, a wooden boat named Thunder, the mold was then made. The next boat, Warrior, was completed and raced quite successfully by John.”

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Scatchet Head: A Pleasant Surprise! started by Photoboy View original post