Monday, April 20, 2015

Tulip Time

The blossoms are blooming and for some reason it is not raining constantly. Take this chance to enjoy the hijinks and antics that is the AYC. On Wednesday night, the 22nd, after the sailors return to the clubhouse the perennial Tulip Cup chairman Walt Meagher is hosting an organizational meeting. Here is your chance to collect registration paperwork or sling potato salad like momma used to make or fly a flag or toot a horn. Believe it or not all these job descriptions and more are part of what makes the Tulip a Regatta. (paragraph KW)
 I can remember returning from college in the late 80's sailing with one of the bad boys from Bellingham to compete against my own family for an opportunity to kiss the Tulip Princess. I don't know where she is today or even if she will make an appearance this weekend. I can tell you this. The AYC is the club we make it. From turning on the lights and hoisting the burgee to stacking chairs and vacuuming the floors it's all us. Okay, there is a lady that does the windows and the heads, but the rest of it is club members just like you.
Typically the sailors blow back into the club around 7:30 or 8 and after a few delicious whatever they are serving Walt will pick up the microphone and start filling in the blanks. Soon after the PRO, the on the water guy, Kevin Welch will step up and fill out the on the water crew.
This weekend promises to be fun filled and fulfilling. Everything a yacht club is supposed to be. Crews hailing from Canada, Bellingham, Seattle, Oak Harbor, Orcas Island, Conway, Alger, Leavenworth, Sedro Woolley, Birdseye, Olympia, Tacoma and beyond. Let's show them what A town hospitality is all about. Bring a smile and a friend  and be there Wednesday night with a hand ready to raise.
In other news:
OHYC is hosting the annual 'Round the Island Race the weekend after Tulip May 2nd and 3rd. Last year AYC Capt Ellis and crew put the smackdown on the fleet and nearly broke the record set by the Big Blue Show Kevin Welch and crew on ICON. Registration is open.
Ian and Joy Sloan have not only hosted the first series of racing but also provided race committee and patrol boat services for everything this spring, buy them a cup of cheer or at least say THANK YOU!
Passepartout will be the first yacht flying the scaret letter this spring to brave the whale pasture this season when she sets forth May 4th to compete in the Oregon Offshore Race from Astoria to Victoria. Local sailing personality Captain Midnight will be on board looking to repeat last years success on Blade Runner.
Rumor has it Captain Fryers Night Runner, the AYC racing phenom, that took home the pickledish in the 2011 and 2013 Swiftsure's is emerging from the shed with a brand new deck.
26 boats have competed in the AYC Frostbite Series setting a record for the most competitors ever in the month of April. Results are tight with less than 3 points separating the leaders in two fleets.
Finally let's agree if God covered 3/4 of the Earth with water he must have intended we spend some time upon it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wonderful Wednesdays

Collectively across this great nation weeknight racing or beer can racing comes in many forms. Locally Bellingham YC races Wednesday and CYC Bellingham race Thursday night. Oak Harbor also race Thursdays. OIYC and SJIYC  race on Fridays. Everett has Friday night racing they call the log dodge and Tuesday's on Lake Union is the legendary Duck Dodge. These races always are set up with different divisions. Here in Anacortes we have Fleet 1 which is NFS or No Flying Sails, which means these boats compete without spinnakers. Fleet 2 for boats as fast as an Islander 30 or slower. Fleet 3 is anything faster than an Islander 30. Flying a standard size spinnaker is generally an 18 second per mile adjustment to your rating and is usually worth it except in very windy races when many boats don't use their spinnaker. (Hey KW watch for paragraph here)
Success on the race course depends on many variables. What is your goal? Success for some is simply enjoying the great outdoors! Success for others is competing against a friendly rival, for example the epic Handyman vs. Syndicat battle. Success for others is doing well consistently. To do well on the race course a well prepared boat helps. Clean bottom, decent sails, rig tuned properly and coordinated crew work are a few keys. Ultimately choosing the proper course is also critical. Generally as you clear the starting line you want to be on the tack that takes you up the course the furthest the fastest, the long board if you will. Of course if you can see the wind fading up ahead or a bunch of faster boats are disturbing your wind a short tack over may be in order. After 35 years of  AYC Wednesday night racing I have noticed a few common mistakes. (Some I continue to make.) The spinnaker has changed a bunch in shape and control systems, but some boats continue to struggle with control systems that helped give it's reputation as a pain in the first place. If you have difficulty setting, gybing and dousing your spinnaker talk to a sailor that looks like they have it figured out and see if you can incorporate their ideas into your program. The most successful racing team in our club actually pays people to tell them how to improve,and they win consistently, maybe a correlation here? If you aren't sure what a twinger or tweaker is or how it's used or think a spinnaker must be launched off the bow, tune in here there is fun even tranquility in store for you and the spinnaker. Ever notice that boats have those long tracks for headsail adjustment along their decks and if you move the farilead you can see by the shadow it has not moved since the Nixon administration, performance in store here, Halyard adjustment affects both speed and point.
The easiest thing to do is dress for weather bring a lifejacket and hang around the docks an hour before the start time. Introduce yourself and a bring a light snack to share. I can honestly say I have never seen anybody left on the dock. Of course it helps if you're young and attractive but in lieu of that read the tide book and pray your offer of a snack will be seen as a compensator. Once you have done it a few times take your own boat and join the fun. Wind in your hair, even if it's just in your ears and not your head and the feel of that a well sailed yacht under your fourth point of conatact can't be beat!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Magic and Mayhem at Seafarers

High school sailing is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest. From Portland, Oregon to several teams in Whatcom County both boys and girls this sport is growing fast. Anacortes played host to the Islands Cup here in Anacortes at Seafarers Park this past weekend. 33 teams and over 150 sailors, coaches and families were on hand, also several dogs. Anacortes Yacht Club's legendary hospitality started with coffee and pastries Saturday morning, a lunch buffet line both days and boat loads of hot chocolate. The Seafarers Park is just a gem for events like this. Big grassy lawns for setting up boats and room for throwing a frisbee or two while waiting for the wind or in the case of this weekend waiting for the wind to mellow out. I think organizing your average wedding is likely easier than putting together a production like a championship high school sailing regatta, at least the wedding only lasts one day. Fred Abelman, Steve Orsini and Gray Hawken covered the heavy lifting on the water and got off 16 races. Saturday blew in like a lion and Sunday went out like a lamb. On Saturday as 10 AYC boats were just making their way to the finish of the "Round Guemes Race the first rotation of 33 Flying Juniors hit the water. These 13' yachts designed in 1955 with 25' tall sticks, handled by a crew of two and carrying over 100sq ft of sail without a spinnaker offer a lively ride. Essentially the puffs that rolled through up to 26 kts made the conditions on Saturday too difficult except for the most talented sailors. There were several safety boats on the water and all the sailors were safe but it was just too much to offer proper competitive racing. Eventually the AYC volunteer crew retired to the club for a well earned recess and made short work of the vittles left over from Friday night's general meeting. Sunday was a day made for sailing and the first race got off on time at 0930 and went off about every 20 mins thereafter until it timed out at 1500hrs. These races can teach you how to get a decent start and a maybe I'm mistaken but I think after all that sailing there was only 1 protest. The rest of the sailors either allowed a bit of courtesy to the competition or took their licks and did their circles. For all the heat America's young people get today about drugs, obesity and test scores and the like I would have to say this group of young people was inspiring that our future is in capable hands. As the boats were derigged and trailers loaded there were plenty of helping hands. 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best years ever at AYC, come lend a hand and join the fun!
In other news:
 The annual 'round Guemes Race featured gusty winds and gutsy sailors. this was the 1 year anniversary for the Emoyeni. Last year they pulled the port side chainplates clean out of the decks and left the rig on the bottom less than two miles from the finish. This year they stole the trophy from the all female captain and crew aboard the Wild Rumpus by 28 seconds. The Wind Warrriors held of the always well sailed Syn di Cat and Ed Kennedy's recently rerriged SPICE stepped for the final place in the top 1/2.
Tulip Regatta is two weeks out. If you're sailing get signed up so they know how many trophies and how much potato salad to order. If you're not sailing get hold of the Chair Walt Meagher or the PRO Kevin Welch and they will put you in a position to help and have fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Great weekend for YOUTH SAILING!!

Any of you who did not come by Seafarer's Park this weekend really missed a great opportunity.  To see 150+ high school kids from Portland, Oregon to Bellingham...33 teams hotly competing for the NWISA (NorthWest InterscholasticSailing Assoc) ISLANDS CUP.   It was wonderful with Saturday winds often 20+ with the associated carnage of capsized and 'turtled' FJ dingies, and then near perfect 7 to 11 knot breeze for Sunday.  Sixteen races were run, with Bainbridge on top, followed by Lincoln of Portland and Woodinville third.   KUDOS TO THE OVER 30 AYC MEMBERS WHO VOLUNTEERED FOR ON THE WATER AND ASHORE HELP!!!!!!!   It was a spectacular event for all and there'll be more to come!!!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Something so Sweet

While everyone else was toiling away at their workstation or trying to sort out their taxes, 80 intrepid yachts and their crews sallied forth from West Vancouver Yacht Club for the 47th annual Southern Straits regatta. This regatta starts on Good Friday each year and features four courses that are never the same from one year to the next. The start is essentially beneath the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver and the finish is off Pt Atkinson. Interesting factoid is Vancouver and Seattle are equidistant from Anacortes 69 miles. This regatta has hosted the usual AYC favorites over the years to include Cassiopeia, Teddy Bear, ICON, Night Runner, Passepartout , Alakazam, Pangaea, and many others. This year Wild Rumpus was the sole entry with the scarlet letter flying proudly from the spreader. The delivery can can be just as challenging as the race and this year was no different, WR slipped her moorings at dawn from the Cap Sante boat basin and by supper was safely moored in the confines of Pt Roberts. Everything seemed ok until daybreak Thursday when the outboard would not start and our youngest crew commenced to barfing. Heating the spark plug with a lighter solved the outboard issue and Dylan eventually started feeling better. WR cleared customs by phone at Royal Vancouver YC and the recalcitrant outboard forced a finish under sail at WVYC, if you've ever been there, and if you haven't you should, you will know this is a tricky process. WVYC is a terrific host and rivals our own club with hospitality. A lot has changed since my first ride on Pangaea in 1980 but they still have the members liquor lockers in the bar leftover from when it was illegal to sell liquor in Canada on Sundays.  The start was downwind,big boats first, and spinnakers of every color blossomed under a brisk South Easterly sending the boats down course fast with the Fraser River current. Wild Rumpus was entered in the inshore race. We were able to keep the depth deeper than the draft and were actually leading the race for 3 out of 4 legs. Of course when it counted the squall moved on leaving the slower rated boats to linger in the rain while the leaders were on their trailers by the time the wind filled in enough to sail back to the club and consider the price of scrap aluminum for the still dead outboard. We chose the expeditious style of delivery home on the trailer and were pulling into the driveway in Anacortes just as the boats out on the course at night were enjoying the lunar eclipse. I poured a coffee and sat on the rail of the deck and thought just how much fun those folks were having out on the whale pasture that night. I think next year I will join them and maybe be wishing I was back on my deck, we'll see.....
In other news...
Next weekend AYC is hosting a high school dinghy regatta. If you have a RIB with an outboard that you could donate for a day or two please contact Fred Abelman. This regatta will be a solid training ground for the National regatta that is planned in Anacortes Memorial Day Weekend next year.
Wednesday night racing fleet gets bigger each week and Ian and Joy have done a masterful job of squeezing in as much as the wind and light will allow. Fun to see some new boats and faces around the club. Make sure you make nametags for your crew so everyone can get to know each other faster. The ever popular 'Round Guemes Race is scheduled for Saturday, if you haven't got a PHRF cert. yet simply call Colin Emsley on Monday and make it happen, generally the RC will record your time and credit you for your victory once the paperwork comes through as long as you have made application. This of course is not true for Tulip Regatta coming up fast so you need to get'er done anyway:) Don't forget the club is open for socializing on Friday evenings. The prices are fair and snacks are always welcome. The bartenders are cheerful and if you're careful you might even be able to poach some Emoyeni crew for the race Saturday since Capt Chris is in the land of Mai Tais, bikinis and coconuts!