All Good Things . . .

Leg One

Winds were very light early Saturday morning, and those at the pre-race Skippers Meeting discussed options for moving the start line up to Sheep Creek or Marmion in case it didn’t pick up enough to get the fleet out of Gastineau Channel. Optiminium served as Committee Boat and, finding around eight knots of breeze on the water, set the start line off Mayflower Island. Lyric-WR, Surprise, Thalia, and Tango all crossed over the line upwind on a starboard tack, favoring the Douglas Island, while Optiminium took a port tack towards the mainland and nabbed an early lead. As the boats neared Sheep Creek, Surprise crossed in front and would stay ahead out of the Channel, followed closely by Optiminium, Thalia, Lyric-WR, and then Tango.

A Tale of Two Races

For the sailors living downtown and in Douglas, the day started early with cruise ships coming in to port starting at 4am, sounding their horns every five minutes as they passed through the dense fog that filled Gastineau Channel on Saturday morning. The weather forecast showed a storm blowing in that evening, with gale-force winds and heavy seas building in Admiralty Cove, which is not a very well protected anchorage. With memories of more than one boat dragging anchor in Admiralty Cove earlier this summer, it was decided at the pre-race Skipper’s Meeting to forego the evening fellowship and race back the same day.

Visibility was low as Loa’a Nalu, Haiku, Optiminium, and Cetus motored out to the Marmion Island start of Leg One. Boats struggled to find and then stay within view of Loa’a Nalu, serving as Committee Boat, and at a half-mile from the day mark, no one could actually see the other end of the start line. Eight to ten knots of breeze was enough for a strong start and Haiku was quickly in front on an upwind tack. Wary of the low visibility, even with GPS, Haiku, Optiminium, and Loa’a Nalu all gave Marmion a wide berth, staying well clear of the point before all quickly setting their spinnakers. With Loa’a Nalu and Optiminium both flying their asymmetrical spinnakers, Haiku’s symmetrical allowed her to point more downwind as they all rounded Douglas, building a lead that she would not relinquish that morning. Cetus stayed much closer inland, and without a spinnaker in her sail inventory, was unable to keep up with the rest of the fleet for very long.

Slow Circles in Taku Inlet

The weather forecast all week had shown light winds for the three race course options, with the exception of a fifteen knot breeze late afternoon up Taku Inlet. It had been several years since the last successful finish of the Jaw Point race and at the pre-race Skipper’s Meeting, all agreed that it was worth trying on the third and final Skippers Choice of the season. The skipper of Haiku voted reluctantly with the others, sharing his experiences of the “thrill” of fighting the Taku River current in light breeze in past Jaw Point races.

Fabulous Funter Bay 2014

Saturday, Race One: The first race began on Saturday morning in a slow start in light air off Portland Island. Five race boats started on the line and headed off toward Point Retreat. Spinnakers were set and all the boats reached along the first leg with the available breeze.