This enthusiastic crew on an Antrim 27 had a blast getting around the race course for this year’s breezy Toliva Shoal Race.

Put on by the by the Toliva Shoal Race Committee and co-sponsored by the Olympia Yacht Club and South Sound Sailing Society, the annual Toliva Shoal Race is, to some skippers, a curse word. To others, it’s a way to recruit crew for an epic weekend-long event. The third of four stops in the Southern Sound Series, this race is either loved or hated, and I think the level of vitriol depends on your home latitude. Deliveries don’t have to be miserable, though. This year boasted a delivery on Friday that was one of the all-time best Puget Sound could provide in February, and another incredible return with sunshine and friends on Sunday. Regardless, this is one of our favorite races of the year. All that was missing was the traditional pre-funk at Olympia Yacht Club — one of the best pre-race parties around. 

This was our crew’s third Toliva Shoal Race, but only our second on Goes to 11, an Antrim 27. The 2022 edition began with an awesome downwind leg off the start. During the first part of the race, we were able to hang with Equus — always good company to keep — and ride their wake for a nice little additional push. The run continued past Boston Harbor, with a spinnaker douse at Johnson Point. 

Jeanneau 53, EQUUS, charging downwind on the opening leg. The author’s boat hung with them. Photo by Jan Anderson.

Since this is really only our third or fourth time handling this boat in higher winds with planing conditions, we had our fair share of broaches. Our first came in Budd Inlet, where our main trimmer appreciated his recent investment in new foulies, since he ended up on the low side of the boat, and was thoroughly dunked, three separate times.

As the race went on, the winds started to increase. After we rounded the Nisqually mark, we had a fairly tight reach over to the south end of Anderson Island. When we made the turn toward Toliva Shoal, we launched our medium-sized kite for the absolutely epic downwind run to the turn-around point. The last time we raced this leg, we had used our biggest spinnaker and had a memorable wipeout near Ketron Island — so we appreciated a more conservative approach. Even with the smaller kite, two more broaches were on the horizon.

Pax the Space Spider, an F32, makes the turn at Toliva Shoal. Photo by Jan Anderson.

Of course, with winds building to the 20s, the glorious spinnaker run was followed by sailing upwind in heavy air for the return to Olympia, a route that takes the fleet north of Anderson Island. We gladly put in a reef after passing through Balch Passage between Anderson and McNeil Islands. 

The big breeze left boats very powered up for the upwind trip home, as seen here on Aerodyne 38, Kahuna. Photo by Jan Anderson.

The rain held out until the very end of the day. And we were able to finish in daylight, which is something we were very excited about as a 27-foot boat on a 38-mile race. Overall, it was an incredibly amazing day on the race course, one I hope we can repeat many times. 

Around the fleet, good times were had by all. Class honors went to F-28R, Trickster; Farr 36, Annapurna; Olson 40, String Theory; Jeanneau 53, Equus; Sierra 26, Dos; Evelyn 26, Nimbus (who also took the overall); Cal 40, White Squall, and Pearson 36, Koosah. Congratulations to the winners and everyone sailing! Here are the full Toliva Shoal 2022 results.

A cool part about our race day was that our crew member Greg Overton brought his drone. I still can’t believe he launched it as we were planing at 11 knots sustained. He was able to get some amazing shots over the day, and was able to film one of our broaches, as well as when we hit our top speed of 13.5 knots. The most extreme moment was when he was trying to retrieve the drone, again while we were ripping at 13 knots. The collision avoidance feature accidentally engaged. Greg hopped into action and caught it out of mid-air after the drone hit the main, recovering it with only a few cut fingers. You can see some of that footage and the epic drone recovery in our race video: 

Title background photo by Greg Overton.

Check out more of Jan Anderson’s always-terrific photos of the race.