Adding a new twist in 2022, CYC Seattle’s second event of their season-starting Center Sound Series didn’t have a set course. Things started slowly and picked up from there for what turned into a great day of sailboat racing.

With new kid on the block, FB35 Manifest, leaving the marina next to us on race day, we spent the day on Cathy VanAntwerp’s J/111 Valkyrie manifesting our best racing potential for Center Sound Series #2, and our lives in general. At least we tried. It was the first running of the “new” Center Sound races, which began two weekends prior with the traditional Blakely Rock Race. 

Always a well-attended series, the covid break likely spurred the opportunity to shake things up. When I was a kid, the second race of the series was to Possession Point; then, it became Scatchet Head in the last decade; and now it’s “To Be Determined” on race day. The same course flexibility will be employed for the third race in the series as well. 

Before leaving the dock in the morning, we could only speculate which direction we might go and how far. Shilshole was the epicenter of the convergence zone on race morning. There was a northeasterly and dark rainy skies to the north, and a lighter southeasterly and sun to the south. The tide was predicted to ebb significantly. All signs pointed toward putting on good foulies and going north. Ultimately, the race committee decided to send us south, to Blakely Rock, then across to Duwamish Head, and back to Shilshole. 

New boat to the area, FB35 Manifest, zips into Elliott Bay after the northeasterly filled. Photo by Leif Fuhriman.

Little boats led the way and hit the convergence wall right out of the gate. With each progressive start, the wall moved slightly farther south with the gradually filling northeasterly, and we all caught up with each other. Since it was a significant ebb, boats chose one side of the Sound or the other, with a roughly equal number of boats heading to Bainbridge side as playing the beach toward West Point. It appeared that kites stayed full longer for the boats that
sailed west earlier, but who knew what would be found on the far shore. 

We had a big pileup with some colorful exchanges at West Point, and it was an unusual opportunity to sail around a lot of different boats, often side by side with the wind coming from opposite directions! It was a game of snakes and ladders for a solid hour. 

Nevertheless, we continued to make progress down the course, and it didn’t rain. As we all neared Blakely Rock the wind filled in solidly from the north and remained for the rest of the day. It seemed like everyone arrived at the rock at the same time, with perhaps a slight advantage to the Bainbridge side boats. Everything from a Lightning to a TP52, all with kites up blasting toward the rock, with some in control more than others — it’s still a bit early in the season…

It was mostly a jib-reach drag race after that. You could probably fetch the crossing to Duwamish Head if you had a clear lane. TP52 Smoke — the only ORC boat to have chosen the early westward journey — was super launched and got an open crossing all by themselves. Must have been lonely way out in front. Most of us had to take a clearing tack at some point. 

After an uneventful rounding at Duwamish Head, it was a close reach on starboard up to West Point with the biggest breeze of the day gusting near 20 knots in Elliott Bay. Keeping the bow up kept a clear lane, but also might put you under the bluff at Magnolia. 

After West Point, we had a few tacks to the finish. We were set up to finish three-wide on a line barely wide enough for two boats that you couldn’t quite lay on starboard tack. Another J/111, Hooligan, was right next to us. The very young driver on Hooligan didn’t even seem phased. 

It was a fast finish on a day that started slowly, and who doesn’t love when there’s more wind and less rain than forecast? Even some sun! We finished before lunch, and I even had a chance to visit the daffodil fields and mow the lawn before I called it a day.

Thank you Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle for a fun event. It’s good to shake things up! We’re looking forward to Center Sound #3 on April 2, another TBD race course. Overall, it was good times and good friends, enjoying the best of Puget Sound. 

Congratulations overall to Smoke in the ORC, and the Sierra 26 Dos and Jon Cruse’s Aerodyne 43 Freja in PHRF who took first and second in the PHRF overall — all three took the Bainbridge side going south. Third in PHRF overall was the J/120 With Grace, who took the east shore on the way to the rock. Looks like each way could work in the end!

Full Results here.

Title background photo by Sunny Fenton.