• Clear And Breezy Blakely Rock Kicks off Center Sound Series



    The 1st of 3 Races incorporated in the Seattle CYC Center Sound Series got underway last weekend
    with Blakely Rock Race. The 14.94 nm north wind course saw brisk north east winds, wall to wall sun and
    a quick dash south to Blakely Rock and back. The quickest run would be accomplished by John Buchan's TP 52'
    Glory, whipping around the course in a mere 1:44:15, fast enough to keep a 3 second edge over Jonathan McKee's
    Bieker 44 Dark Star on corrected time.

    Bill Buchan's Peterson 44' Sachem Would take all monohulls on corrected, with a time of 2:05:17 with an elapsed time of
    2:20:13.

    The Single multihull competing, Vincent Depillis's Corsair 31R Freda Mae worked the course with a 2:01:31 elapsed and corrected
    time of 2:03:01




    all photos © Jan's Marine Photography

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    Blakely Rock Kicks off Center Sound with Great Conditions and a Fleet MOB Response
    by Kurt Hoehne



    CYC's Blakely Rock Race is the unofficial start to the year's racing season. Sure, there are frostbites the South Sound Series, but those seem to be winter. As such, if you're looking for an omen for the year to come, it's going to be an interesting one, and a good one. After all, it's not every race you have to restart and a (successful) man overboard recovery.

    The day started out as Bruce predicted, bright and breezy. PRO Charley Rathkopf set the weather mark to the north and started sending off the classes. He soon was informed the mark was headed for Spring Beach and made the decision to restart and use a shorter course.


    The reverse (small boats first) start made for a compacted fleet as they headed downwind. The planing boats planed and the cruiser racers just went fast, giving everybody a memorable start to the season.








    Rescue by Committee
    The biggest event of the race wasn’t the winner’s circle, it was the rescue of Anarchy crew Lindsey Lind. I haven’t yet been able to talk to the Anarchy crew or the crew of the TBird Selchie, the boat that ultimately picked Lind out of the drink. But here’s what I do know.

    On the downwind leg, relatively close to the Blakely Rock, Lind fell overboard from the FT 10 Anarchy. Somewhere in there Anarchy broached. There were some chaotic radio transmissions from Anarchy to the Coast Guard, and then several boats in the fleet responded. Marek Omilian, the skipper of a the new-to-town TP 52 Sonic, saw Lind in the water about 500 yards ahead but wasn’t sure it was a person until they were 100-150 yards from her. By then the crew was already preparing the M.O.M. module and deployed it close enough that Lindsey was able to grab it. It turns out Omilian is a veteran of the Clipper Around the World Race and his crew was well prepared for a man overboard situation.

    In the meantime Charlie Macaulay’s Absolutely also saw what was going on, dropped their chute and motored toward the victim. Macaulay recalled, “When we still about 10 boat lengths away, Selchie executed a perfect kite douse and circled the MOB, turning up to leeward of her. They quickly pulled her onboard as we approached within a couple of boat lengths.” Absolutely was awarded 4 minutes redress for standing by.

    Not everything was quite as seamless aboard Selchie as it appeared from the outside. Crew member Gail Tsai reported on Facebook: "The kite came down before I could release it from the pole; our green line went under and hooked to the keel while the halyard got caught with spin halfway up. It fell into water, got wet, and started pulling me off the boat. It had wrapped itself around my right leg. I was just clinging to everything for dear life trying not to cause another rescue. Never been so close to falling in the drink before.'












    All's well that ends well, and this one ended well. Lind was warm, dry and in good health in the CYC clubhouse after the race.

    There has already been some discussion about the incident, and what lessons are to be learned. It seems to me that the racers can take pride in the rescue. The fleet responded immediately and skillfully. I understand there was a J/105 that also stood by in addition to the boats already mentioned. It's interesting that one of the fastest rated boats (Sonic) and the slowest rated boat (Selchie) were both instrumental in the rescue. This might be a good argument for having a reverse start - keeping the fleet together longer on the racecourse.


    New to Town with a bit of Irony

    You might wonder how this TP 52 Sonic came to be here in the PNW, on Blakely Rock, and with a crew ready to play a vital role in the rescue. After all, it's not as if the owner Mark Omilian isn't a household Seattle racing name like John Buchan (Glory), Steve Travis (Smoke) and Steve Johnson (Mist). I was wondering.

    It turns out Mark Omilian may not be a household name yet, but it would be difficult to imagine a more prepared offshore racer owner. He recently completed the Clipper Round the World race on Visit Seattle, sailing all the legs. In fact, five people onboard Sonic on Saturday have done part or all of that race or are going to do it. Part of the Clipper preparations is "safety procedures ad nauseum." So much of the crew was ready when they saw the person in the water.


    Omilian, originally from Poland, says he's developing an onboard culture based on safety, respect, teamwork and commitment. He's also pursuing an interesting facet to the Sonic campaign; he's looking to use the boat as a fundraising tool for good causes. Omilian has identified potential groups such as the Ocean Foundation and is approaching local corporations to see if a sponsorship program can be developed.

    Now for the irony. Man overboard (or crew overboard - COB - as I've just learned I'm supposed to say) safety issues are much on the mind of racers these days. A thorough report was just released on the death of Jon Santorelli who drowned after falling off the TP 52 Imedi shortly after the Chicago-Mac start last year. Sonic is Imedi, and so it seems fitting that the boat, with a safety-focused crew and skipper, helped in this successful rescue.











    The Racing
    As far as the racing goes, the consistent breeze emphasized boatspeed and boat handling. There were nine classes, including a 1-boat multihull class. Results

    Brad Butler’s very well-sailed Sierra 26 Dos planed to another victory, correcting easily on her class and by over a minute overall. The six second ding to her rating, pronounced in the January PHRF meeting, wasn’t nearly enough for Saturday’s conditions. When the Sierra gets on a plane, the boat is pretty much a gun in a knife fight.

    Winning the Boats with Cabins division was Bill Buchan’s Sachem demonstrating how it’s done. The Peterson 43 charged along in the heavy upwind conditions and held her own downwind, correcting by nearly eight minutes ahead of the rest of her class and only a 1:24 behind Dos.

    Within the classes, there were a few interesting results. The 9-boat J/105 class was won by Racers formally known as Here & Now. The J/29 Boat of the Year bunch have apparently moved on to One Design. Also, the level 72 (PHRF rating) class has made a reappearance, and it was won by the C&C 115 Elusive with the J/35 Tahlequah second and the Schock 35 Darkside third. It will be interesting to see if this class can stay together as a group and, hopefully, build.

    Perhaps the most competitive of the classes was class 8. Burzicki/Shorett’s Farr 395 Ace corrected to first, with Absolutely second and Andy Mack's J/122 Grace third. The three finished within 11 seconds on corrected time and finished fourth, fifth and sixth overall. In the proverbial race-within-a-race, the J/122 Grace and the Farr 395 Ace, had a few close crosses before Ace ultimately finished overlapped.

    Mike Johnson, crew aboard Ace, recounted: "We had a good day sparring with Grace, a boat with many good sailors and friends. They had a great start and first beat to begin the run with a 100-yd lead. We were able to reel them in after a few big puffs filled in from the north and rounded Blakely Rock just ahead. Upwind, we stayed on port while they took a tack toward Wing Point and then held a higher port tack lane across the Sound. There was a slight left shift, but not enough for them to pass. From the tack at Discovery Park we were always close and ended up overlapped at the finish. One advantage of having another equally rated and well-sailed boat is the opportunity to learn new things, which is what keeps us coming back.

    Don't you just love rivalries? All rivalries will resume in the next two Center Sound races. Bruce Hedrick will be providing his weather magic the day before each race, so check in then.


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