Rounding out the mostly wild Center Sound Series—Corinthian Yacht Club’s spring mid-distance series—the Pulley Point Race deviated from the trend with concerns about light breeze rather than a gear buster. In the end, it was a great day of sailing.

The honest truth is that down deep in my old school sailing heart, I fondly remember the days of racing to Pulley Point and was super excited that CYC Seattle was rolling back to the original Center Sound Series races. I was ready to go, and ready to stick it out. The other honest truth is that while the Pyramid 30 Scheme is a boat and crew that stick it out, there was also a legitimate discussion about going to brunch at Hattie’s Hat when it was calm and raining at 9 a.m. before the race. In fact, neither of those options happened. We did the perfectly reasonable option, and raced to Duwamish Head instead! 

As we motored out to the starting area on March 23, the “B” on the course board was a welcome sight that we were likely going to finish and didn’t need the extra 3 gallons of fuel after all. “B” was the indication that we were sailing the short course. 

The northerly filled sooner than expected and offered hope in the face of a troublingly light forecast. Here J/111 Lodos makes progress toward Duwamish Head.

The light northerly gave us hope that the predicted afternoon breeze had arrived earlier than expected. We were full of optimism… and chocolate brownies. And since we were on a little boat, also full of cold beverages! 

Davidson 29 Madame Pele cruises south keeping pace with others in their class.

It was a downwind start and the pin end was favored since it gave the opportunity to jibe away and catch the outflow from the Ballard Locks. Plus, it was just further downwind and still in the breeze—a solid plan. Scheme started in the second division and the wily little boat sailors in the first division confirmed our plan. Sailing too far to the left got a little light, and sailing too deep was deadly, but there was a sweet spot where you could keep the boat moving and jibe towards West Point in some wind while still catching some good current that swept you in the right direction. 

After West Point, the Magnolia shore was occasionally brilliant, but more of a gamble than we were willing to take. Also, the boats in the first start had already claimed that territory. Sometimes it seemed like a straight shot to Duwamish Head at a great angle, until you got lifted up into Elliott Bay and got the slows. The Hobie 33 TC was slipping right along with their A-kite, sailing higher angles and staying in breeze. The Evelyn 32 Ratfish was keeping pace, as well as Madame Pele, Jolly Green and Charlotte in our little pack. We held together all the way down the run. On the approach to the mark, the J/105s were closing in on us and the biggie boats were burning through the fleets zeroing in, but the only boat that arrived at Duwamish Head with the little boats was large and white with a big green stripe, but was thankfully not blowing any horns. Whew!

On Scheme, our plan was to tack right away after rounding the mark to stay in the breeze and out of Elliott Bay. That plan might have gone awry with a wall of kites that materialized rather suddenly. We took a clearing tack and then it was mostly a fetch back to West Point once you flopped back onto starboard. 

The capable Scheme crew, on the way to a third place finish in a competitive class of little boats.

As often happens as you proceed north, you definitely had to take a tack or two to make it out to the point, and it definitely mattered when you tacked. Boats that took the high road seemed to fare a bit better, but the angle you had to accept to get there was sometimes hard to justify. On our first tack to the beach, we were at a course of 70 degrees; but on our second and more successful tack we were at 38 degrees. After turning well clear of West Point, there was a long port tack that brought us most of the way to the Meadow Point buoy before a last quick run to the finish. That was uneventful for all but one boat—you know who you are!

With an early afternoon finish, the clubhouse at CYC was packed. It was loud, fun times! There was chili and Dark and Stormies and sailors and Girl Scout cookies as far as the eye could see. 

Thank you to the organizers and volunteers who worked hard to make the whole thing happen. This was the most fun Center Sound Series I’ve been to in quite a while! Congratulations go out to division winners of the day. Collecting the Girl Scout cookies were: Ace in ORC 6, Manifest in ORC 7, and Glory in ORC 8 and Overall; the J/27 LXIII in PHRF 1, TC in PHRF 2, Moose Unknown in the J/105 fleet, Shada in PHRF 4, and War Canoe in PHRF 5. After three great races in the Center Sound Series 2024, overall series honors went to Ace in ORC, and Rush in PHRF. Well sailed!

Full results at: