. .

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Southern Straits...

Since we missed the Patos Island Classic the 2012 Southern Straits race turned out to be our first event of the season.  Prior to the race a lot of people helped us out getting things ready after our extensive winter re-fit.

We had an uneventful delivery (very calm weather) and motored most of the way to Vancouver from Anacortes.

Delivery North to Vancouver
Coal Harbor Marina at Night

The next morning it became clear that it would be a very light wind event, so we left all our heavy-air gear at the dock in Vancouver.  We had a good mid-line start and proceeded to drift with our A1 up the mainland side while attempting to stay in the ebb current exiting the First Narrows.  Eventually we had to shift to our J1 and later the wind seeker.  The wind got lighter and lighter and eventually it was just and Neptune's Car near Lasqueti Island.

Light Winds at the Start
We experienced some severe wind shear just before rounding Sisters Island -- the Car managed to sail around us while we were pinned with the top part of the sails in one pressure system and the lower part in another (both of which were 2-3 knots in strength).  We ended up reefing the main and rounded Sisters ahead of the Car -- go figure!

Drifting along after the Start
Light Winds continued all night

Races like this are typically won or lost at night -- we ended up beating in light air to Ballenas Island then headed out to Halibut Bank.  On the way out under our A0 there was a large bang as the tack let loose.  In the process we destroyed our forestay foil making it difficult later to hoist a headsail.  After wasting about 10 minutes dealing with this mess we were under way and rounded Halibut Bank nicely ahead of the Car.

Dueling with Neptune's Car

On the route back to Ballenas the Car hooked into a nice northerly and really gained ground and ended up passing us on the second rounding of Ballenas -- they can be very fast in reaching conditions with their overlapping headsails.  Once we rounded Ballenas we launched our A2 kite and quickly passed the Car after a brief duel and headed for Entrance Island as the wind built nicely.

After a quick rounding of Entrance Island we reached out as high as we could with the A2, then peeled to the A3 for our final approach into Vancouver.  Just before we reached the finish we were completely blocked out by a very large bulk carrier exiting Howe Sound -- this cost another 5 minutes or so as we had to jibe around them.

The view from the galley

The run from Entrance to Pt Atkinson we a lot of fun as we were flying by other boats!  In the end we finished 2nd behind Dark Star and 3rd overall -- not too bad for our first outing of the season.  Here are a few pictures of our route as recorded by Expedition:

Our completed track (with chart background)

Our completed track (no background)