Possession Point 2004 Race Report
submitted by Alex Krawarik
5 Olsons made it a one-design start for Center Sound Series #2, Posession Point.
The forcast was "the forecast of death " - a NE wind to 10 knots. This is a forecast that usually indicates "a drifter" is in the works. A huge tidal exchange complicated matters.
In the morning the breeze was fairly good from the North and the fleets all got off to a good start. Invariably everyone chose the Bainbridge side, and looked for a lift up the shore on their way North to Scatchet Head. The Olsons all vied for the pin end of the line and all showed good speed upwind. The value of dialing in the boat during these Center Sound races cannot be underemphasized. Our one-design events promise to be spectacular if these distance events are any indication!
There wasnt as much lift on the beach as expected, but the big boats committed to the left. Four of the five Olson 30's split from the bulk of the fleet at this point and did the long tack to the Edmonds side of the sound, looking for better current in the middle and expecting a huge tidal rip to bring them down to the mark. This seems a reasonable plan, but lots of distance racing on the Sound has made the Kingston side still the favored side during a Northerly and especially and ebb. All the big boats bore this out, and Orcrist kept on the Kingston shore, and worked the now flukey and slowly clocking breeze.
The wind started moderating, and then did a classic "split", where boats on one side of Puget Sound are on port and sailing the same heading as boats on the other side of Puget Sound, sailing starboard. I've seen this a number of times, most dramatically five years ago when boats on one side of the Sound had spinnakers up, and boats on the other close hauled, all pointing on the same heading. The short story is, the left side won, as the breeze went East and filled down Possession Sound, but stayed light off Edmonds.
The wind picked up again on the left side of the Sound after about 30 min of very lightness and a clocked around 40-50 degrees, and propelled the entire fleet of about 7 starts with a big lift to a huge convergence at the Scatchet Head mark. This was a very complicated mark rounding, with literally 50 boats or so getting there at the same time. Several people misjudged their abilities as helmsmen and did circles. I believe the first boat to round was the 1D48, but a crowd of big boats started the parade back to the Edmonds side of the Sound, as the wind had gone due East at about 5 knots. So far, the entire race had been upwind, and it didnt look like it would fill in anytime soon. By this time Orcrist, the lone O30 on the left, had moved up through the J35s, Express 37s, and was trading tacks with 3 J120s, Time Bandit, Attitude, and Splash Dance to the mark. Everyone was dreading this rounding, as the currents here can be 5 knots at max ebb (and, surprise! it was max ebb!). However, the GPS told a different story - only a knot of anti-water at the rounding. All the while we were expecting the breeze to fill from the East, and bring the Olson Fleet of Horror down on our private party. But it was not to be, and we rounded with Jam, a J160, the B35, and Kahuna and Declation of Independence and got in line for the beat back to Edmonds.
Time Bandit and a few other boats briefly tried the asym, but the kite wasnt making them go any faster - the race was still all about apparent wind. So everyone stayed with whites all the way back to Edmonds. On the way there, we passed a hard charging LunchBox, closely followed by Enigma, then Wild Turkey and Bad Dog all going to the mark. After all that the Olsons were perhaps only 20 min behind Orcrist, but that lead evaporated slowly as the breeze died the further South the fleets went.
Lunchbox and Enigma exhibited great light air speed and caught and ultimately passed Orcrist. Lunchbox did 3 or 4 sail changes, going from spin to light one to medium one and back, to keep the pressure up. Orcrist tried getting some boatspeed by alternating between the light one and the drifter, while Enigma seemed to stay with their number one the entire time. Despite the light air this had been a pretty exciting race so far!
6 miles from the finish, the "final drift" began. The big boats were still about 2 miles ahead, battling the time limit. With any real breeze at all someone would have finished. But it was not to be, the race was abandoned an hour before the time limit, and after 8 sunny and warm hours on the water everyone packed it up and motored home.