Duwamish Head Race Report... from a trailer sailer point of view.

posted Feb 3, 2018, 3:26 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc   [ updated Feb 5, 2018, 5:55 PM ]

He used to be smaller.  So small I could hold him in the crook of my arm with room to spare.  Now, taller than me with the shoe size to match, he is a fuzzy headed space consuming refrigerator emptying adolescent powerhouse.  So much energy... so much fun!

 My son Jonah and I teamed up with two friends, Jim and Vince, to do our first winter race on Ruf Duck.  Why not?  I am on a hiatus from major boat work this winter and Jonah and I have decided to get some racing in.  Duwamish Head seemed to be a good place to start after the holidays so plans were laid... according to Vince, laid out like a military operation.  Not a fair description I say, but there were some things to work out since the boat was still in the back yard and that takes a few minutes of planning. After a few days worth of phone calls we obtained permission to use the Des Moines Yacht Club launch ramp at the south end of the marina (a big thank you to Margaret!) and that was the piece that made the whole trip possible.  With that part of the puzzle solved the rest of the plan went a little like this:

·  Friday - hitch the boat to the truck after work... leave the house by 6:30 or so.

·  Drive to the DesMoines and arrive at the Yacht Club by around 7:30 or 8.  (yep... dark and rainy... and the tail end of rush hour). 

·  Launch the boat and park the truck and meet up with Jim and Vince to rig the boat.  This only takes 15 minutes or so with the total effort of this plus beam extension, mast up, gear and sails on taking around two hours or less.

·  Retreat to Seattle for hot showers and a nice bed.  I think I was in bed by 11.

·  Saturday - leave Seattle for Des Moines at 7:00am.  Since we left the truck and trailer in DesMoines Vince was the transportation maven, inscribing a very big clockwise arc around Seattle, as he picked us all up for the trip.

·  Our race started at 10:10... PHRF 1 Multihull.  We still had plenty of time to hang out, talk to folks, get some coffee and check over the boat before we left the dock.

·  After the race - derig, get the boat on the trailer and head back home.  One and a half hours to derig plus the commute.  Derig seems to be faster than rigging.

·  Back the trailer into the yard, unhook and unpack.  Jonah and I were back in the house by 6:00pm.

Seems like a lot now that I type it... but it really was not very difficult and it went without a hitch.  Unless you count the part where we got stuck in the craw of the Port of DesMoines parking lot entrance.  We missed the DesMoines Yacht Club turn off.  I should have looked more closely at the map.  Fortunately there was a very nice woman walking her dog that showed us the trick for getting almost 60 feet of truck and trailer un-tangled, through the automatic gates, turned around and headed back in the right direction.  

Race Day!

Not much wind in the marina and certainly not enough to fully display our NWMA burgee.  Not to worry though, Bruce Hedrick's dire predictions of very light air turned out to be just weather forecaster's reverse psychology.  Things picked up a bit once we headed out and we had somewhere around 15 knots from the southwest.  Our start was the last one so we got to watch all the fleets sprint off towards the north.  We were apparently so fixated by the procession that we   were a bit late, being hailed by the committee boat that the last horn had indeed been our start.  Still, no worries.  We have a fast boat.  Not the fastest mind you... there were a couple of Avatar Toruk types out there.  I would like to say that Crossfire and Mist (Steve Johnson's TP 52 ex Valkarie) were looking good but truth be known we only saw them at the start... and saw Mist halfway back up our return beat on their way home from having dropped off their crew, stowed their gear, gotten something to eat and probably caught a movie.

Mid Race

Things flattened out.  

Ack.  The promising breeze that we had at the start left us and we were down on our numbers a bit.  Still a decent breeze, just not enough wind to keep us from sticking and not enough to reel in much of the fleet.  And the logs!  There was more wood in the water than I have ever seen in a race on Puget Sound.  Small logs, big logs, dead heads... oh my.  There was one two boat length tree with a root ball that had a sail area seemingly bigger than ours.  Bob and weave... we only hit what Vince called "twigs".  Making the right hand turn after Alki Point the wind picked back up a bit and we had a nice gybe-fest digging through the fleets.  Crew work was impeccable and this was the first time that we had so many flawless spinnaker gybes on the boat.  Jim, Vince and Jonah really kept things humming.  Just as we rounded the Duwamish Head day marker the wind lightened up again and that combined with a close port reach and less than monohull angles had us sagging a bit below Blakely Rock.  Hard not to pinch in a close hauled competition with monohulls.  You really have to remind yourself to fall off a little and let the boat run.  Still, as we rounded the rock (per Vince by a suitably safe distance... which is a bit wider than folks who have not made substantial carbon fiber deposits on that rock might have prescribed) we were able to start slowly reeling in the boats ahead.  Mixed fleets are fun.  Monos sometimes try and pinch you up... which is fine since falling off is faster and ducking through there lee at a high rate of speed does not seem to be much trouble.  As we worked our way back south the wind picked back up and we were finally able to find our wheels.  I love the way this boat accelerates when it gets its breeze.  You can actually feel it leap forward.

The End

We won!  Our class.  Which was one boat deep.  I think we missed the parade the Chamber of Commerce held in our honor... :)

In all actuality, overall we corrected out somewhere in the upper part of the low quarter... finishing right behind a San Juan 30 I think.  Every part a victory in my eyes since I was able to hang out with friends, get some racing in with my son and turn a winter weekend into a worthwhile event.  What could be better?

Do those pictures look like winter?  I don't think so.

Jeff Oaklief

Commodore NWMA