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Thread: Brisk But Not Brutal: Blakely Rock Benefit A Windy Affair

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    Brisk But Not Brutal: Blakely Rock Benefit A Windy Affair

    Kurt Hohne Reports

    Nearly 100 boats were signed up for the Blakely Rock Benefit Race on Saturday, but a large number of skippers were scared away by the dire wind forecasts. A really healthy fleet still made the trip from Seattle to the Rock and back and while it blew hard, it wasn't on the "really scary" side of windy. As Doug Frazer from OxoMoxo said, "We had one knock down, but the salt is good for the teak. I was a little disappointed we didn't need to put in a reef." The weather guru Bruce called it correctly, however (and my apologies) the Brief didn't get out until 1932 on Friday. For those who didn't see the Brief, sorry I didn't get it out sooner. No word yet on how much money was raised for The Sailing Foundation, but every bit of it will be well used.

    Jan and Skip and Mocha Anderson were out and once again caught the mood of the day. Here's a sampling. To see the rest of them, check out the full gallery link below. Jan credits the ferry captain for what I'd call not just considerate, but highly seamanlike, decision to go south of the Rock to avoid conflict with the fleet. If any of you know that captain, buy him a beer.


    Here's Jan's thoughts: "There was certainly plenty of action at The Rock this weekend, with gusty conditions and rain squalls. The good news is that the potentially-race-canceling-gear-busting conditions forecasted for Saturday never arrived ... hooray! That means we were left with a real race that challenged competitors, not a survival exercise that challenged logic. Well done, Mother Nature, and many thanks to Bruce for an accurate forecast that surely encouraged more boats to come out and play anyway. All in all, a win-win-win day! Enjoy the photos!" She added, "The ferry skipper was an absolute gentleman, that dissolved a potentially huge challenge in its interaction with the sailing fleet. Had he not done what he did, the result would have been an absolute mess. Bravo Zulu!!"


    Bruce Hedrick's Race Report from onboard Tahlequah

    Once again, a great event. Too bad so many people got freaked out by the advertising-driven doom and gloom forecasters. I have to say that we pretty well nailed it and we had a great time. We agreed beforehand if that it was blowing 25+, we weren't going. The riggers got down to the boat at 0930 and it was 8-10 with a puff to 14 from 147M. By 1030 it was 5-8 from 190M and we were putting on sunblock and sunglasses.

    We left the dock at 1115 with the pole rigged and the #1 genoa on deck but with the caveat that we reserved the right to change our mind. The foredeck was shocked! By 1135 we were seeing puffs to 16 and signs that it was going to increase, ie the lower clouds were moving faster from the SW. So we decided to go to the #3. This was the right call. The baro had quit rising and when that happened the wind went back to ESE. So two starts in front of us boats were able to port tack start. The start in front of us no one figured that out so we decided the boat end, on port, was a winner. It was and we won the start and sailed easily into the lead holding off the Schock 35 and pinning them in our dirty air.

    As usual, our main competition was the C&C115 Elusive who got a horrible start and ended up sailing low and slow off the line. We were able to hold port tack almost all the way to Bainbridge where we started to run into traffic from the slower starts ahead of us. We weren't able to sail as far as we wanted into the Bainbridge shore so we tacked to starboard to stay in clear air and stay ahead of Elusive. In doing so we let the J-109 get ahead of us.

    We rounded Blakely Rock in second place and knew that we could never hold the C&C 115 off going downwind: longer waterline, more sail area, etc etc. We held the port pole until we were about halfway to Winslow and then gybed to end up being aimed perfectly at West Point. The J-109 gybed and crossed ahead of us while Elusive gybed early and sailed about even with us until about way to West Point when the breeze built and they just took off.

    We knew the wind would go forward at West Point so we had everything rigged for the final run to Meadow Point. Elusive had to gybe and come out to us but they crossed us and went too far to the West. The other C&C 115 Fortuna was just sailing up our tail pipe but when the wind went forward at West Pt we were able to handle that better and just sailed directly to Meadow Point. In the meanwhile, Elusive who had gone too far to the West had to drop their kite and go to their headsail to make Meadow Point. So we were inside with the kite up, making the mark and you would think that would be an advantage. No such luck, bigger boats with more waterline and more sail area are simply faster.

    We rounded Meadow Point in clear air with plenty of congestion behind us and when we could tack and get back into the beach we did. Elusive beat us, as they should, but we still had a great time.

    Peak true wind speed as recorded on the Garmin was 22 knots, minimum wind speed was 12 knots. Peak boat speed was a very brief surf to 9.1 knots.

    Those who believed the forecast had a great time and anytime you can sail in those conditions, you learn something.


    I had a lot of requests from skippers to cancel this race based on the warnings. It was tough as some folks were coming from other areas and had to get crew together. Because it was a benefit regatta (beginners and experienced both racing) some crews (and skippers) had a lot of angst about participating. Due to the fickle weather here there was no way I could make that call until the day of race. Turned out to be a great day. An amazing day!

    In the end, we had 100 boats register and 60 race. The committee boat was s/v Copacetic with Mike DeMan was the skipper. Mike Cain (STYC Vice Commodore) and I headed up the committee boat with a crew of 10. There were some pretty tight and competitive starts with a few near misses, but in the end we only had 1 over early. The finish was just as exciting and there were a lot of cheers from folks. Everyone was off the water in record time really. Even the vessel traffic was making way for the fleet as they rounded the rock and headed back north.

    We held the trophy awards and huge raffle event (all proceeds donated to The Sailing Foundation) at the Sloop Tavern after the race. The tavern was packed, as always, and lots of stories swapped for sure. I do not yet have the total amount raised as it usually takes us about a week to get all those numbers in, but I will let you know once we get them.

    The Sloop Tavern (business) sponsored our breakfast as usual this year (they always do) and CYC provided the venue this year for both breakfast and the skipper meeting. This was a change for us this year as breakfast is usually held at the Sloop Tavern but CYC wanted to help The Sailing Foundation and offered the breakfast venue this year.

    Carol Pearl is who we named the Blakely Rock Benefit after this year. Carol was our club historian and had been a past commodore of STYC in the early 90's. She truly embodied the STYC spirit. We had all of our board meetings at her home. She passed away on 2/14/2018. Carol is who usually managed the BRBR race each year. It was harder for her the last couple of years due to her health but she still had her organizational lists, etc to make sure all details were handled.

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

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    I was one of those crew that was asked to race and said yes without looking at the weather. When I looked at my three favorite weather apps and they all agreed I knew I was in trouble. I sent a text to the skipper questioning his sanity but he's much younger than me. Friday was a beautiful day for a delivery so that definitely answered the question of the boat going north. I was now checking the forecast again. Still the same. I was wondering what Bruce Hedrick had to say. I was looking for something and Bruce is usually spot on. A couple articles hit my mail box...but no Bruce. Sitting in my home office, one eye on the Masters replay and one eye on my computer, boom, there it was a notice in my mailbox. Yup, what I was waiting for. I was liking what Bruce had to say. Saturday morning and I'm immediately looking at SailFlow, Pt. Robinson 8, Alki 2, West Point 10. I'm liking this. Is this the calm before the storm? I picked up a fellow crew in Des Moines. It was raining buckets on the way. I like to head to Seattle races via the Alaska Way Viaduct. A great visual of Elliot Bay. It looked good! And, it definitely was! Thanks Sloop Tavern YC sticking to your guns for a great event!

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