Success! It definitely wasn’t easy, but the Tachyon crew completed their first offshore race, finishing second in their class and fourth overall.

The Pacific Northwest Offshore Race brings sailors 193 ocean miles up the Washington coast and down the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Ilwaco, Washington to Victoria, British Columbia. This years “Offshore”, as its most dedicated fans call it, was the first offshore event for our boat, the Farr 39CR Tachyon, and the majority of our crew.

Leading up to the race, which started at the Columbia River on May 16, the workload was massive. Getting everything together, from prepping the boat to taking safety at sea seminars to finding that perfect weather window for the shorthanded delivery down the coast and across the Columbia River Bar was a challenge. The volunteers with CYC Portland were very accommodating with answering many phone calls, questions, and helping to get us down for the race. Turns out, getting there was the easy part with a 36-hour delivery from the Ballard Locks and a stunning northern lights show that will not be forgotten.

The docks lined with boats in Ilwaco were like they are in any other race—lots of pleasant banter, last-minute boat prep, seeing old friends, and making new ones. Bruce Hedrick joined us via Zoom at the skippers meeting to give us the skinny about the weather. The wind was forecast to start off light and build into the mid to upper twenties as we went north. But, not to anything crazy. All the last minute classifications were given on the virtual start/finish line and we were off the following morning.

Our crew eagerly got Tachyon off the dock and headed out across a very calm Columbia River Bar. Sails were up and GPS countdown set. We started in the first row with Club Swan 42 Free Bowl of Soup and the F-45RC catamaran Cheeky Monkey to leeward of us. All of us a few boat lengths back from the start line to avoid the potential two-hour time penalty for being OCS.

Free Bowl of Soup, and the J/120s Time Bandit and Pathfinder were all neck-and-neck for the first third of the race, exchanging positions. Once the wind started to get into the upper teens, Free Bowl of Soup’s waterline and displacement really started to show as they legged out. All around us, boats were busy with plenty of sail changes, from light air jibs at the start, asymmetrical kites as the breeze clocked west, and quick changes to J3 and J4s in the building wind.

About 4 hours into the race, half the crew on Tachyon was seasick. The wind picked up quickly and made for a very confused and choppy sea state—like a Salish Sea washing machine but with ocean swell. We reduced sail to a reefed main and J3, but you couldn’t drive the waves to save your life. We kept everything eased and tried to stay powered up going through the waves. The pounding was intense, to say the least. Being short-staffed due to seasickness made more work for fewer people being able to drive the boat. Around 11 p.m., we lost our wand on top of the rig and had to sail by brail the rest of the night.

As the breeze built, the sea state got more confused and some crew got seasick.

During our upwind slog, we took on around 40 gallons of seawater. Even with hatches dogged down and companionway shut, water found its way in, and we narrowly avoided an electrical fire from cell phones on the nav station sitting in water while plugged into the 12V outlets. To make matters worse, and with morale already down, the diesel heater stopped working around midnight and made for an even colder, sick crew. We love boat racing, but this was rough.

As daylight broke, we were within sight of Duntz Rock and had heard reports of boats retiring due to seasickness and broken gear. Seeing the rock was one thing, but rounding it and popping the S2 in the low 20s was sweet. All of a sudden, everyone seemed to have magically gotten better.

Time Bandit hugged the American shore side as we made our crossing over to Canada. We were 6 miles behind Soup. The Bandits made their crossing, and we all saw that it had paid to stay on the American side. The wind picked up as we got to Sheringham Point and then through Race Rocks. We doused Tachyon’s kite through Race Passage and opted for a two sail broad reach with the wind pushing into the upper 20s. Tip of the hat to Time Bandit for holding their kite and legging out to the finish.

The welcoming party greeted us with big smiles, hot towels (magical!), and champagne. We greatly appreciated the effort by all the volunteers—it really added a nice touch to the event.

Pacific NW Offshore is truly a special race. I learned loads about the boat, including things I need to modify, and we made some new friends. The chatter on the dock in Victoria was all about the sea state, suggesting this was the worst many boats had seen over the years. Everyone is putting in an order for some downwind sailing up the coast next year!

Big thanks to CYC Portland, Schooner Creek Boat Works, and all the sponsors for putting on a great event.

Full results at: