The TC crew in the zone, focusing in the light air.

The final race of the 2023-2024 Southern Sound Series took place out of picturesque Gig Harbor on Saturday, March 16. The forecast for light winds and sunshine provided a stark contrast to anyone who had been out for the previous week’s Possession Point Race with its stormy rain and ice pellets, and cells delivering 25 to 50 knots of wind.

We had been out racing the prior week on our Cal 33, Cherokee. We retired and fared well with minor mainsail damage and a broken spinnaker guy. Licking our wounds during the intervening week, I decided to pass on the Islands Race with Cherokee. But, with an invite to sail with friends on the Hobie 33, TC, I still got to go racing!

With the boat delivered, the crew caravaned to Gig Harbor under clear, sunny skies. Crossing the Narrows Bridge, we could see the light northerly was filling in. This was promising for the day ahead. Arriving at the boat, we had a main to bend on and sail selections to make. Relying on the light forecast, we decided to keep weight off the boat and only bring the #1 jib. Once on the course, we contemplated our start plan, asking ourselves if we would need a different headsail for more wind at the top of the course.

During the pre-start, PRO Charlie Rathkopf broadcasted a change of course over the VHF from the committee boat. Instead of sending the fleet all the way up to Blake Island, the course would be shortened with a turning mark about three-quarters of the way up Colvos Passage. Hmm, maybe that light #1 would be fine?

Our crew watched the first starts and observed their performance, putting in our two-cents to the brain trust. TC is quite fast in these conditions, so we really needed to be able to tack when we wanted to. Watching the shifts during the sequence, John Hogue put TC down the line under everyone on time. Fully powered up by Paul Carter on the main and Ric Petersen trimming jib, TC was fast off the start sailing higher and faster than our class. JJ Hoag, Will Nelson, and I held down the rail and fed information.

Watching the usual suspects in preceding classes—Aurora and Tonic to name a few—we made a few tacks, picked shifts, and stayed mostly to the west shore of Colvos Passage. We had TC among the lead boats. A long port tack brought us over to the east shore south of Sandford Point. Tonic, Aurora, and Slick were exchanging tacks with us, as we tried to distance ourselves from Myrrh and Gnarwhal, some of our competitors in class PHRF 5. Looking back, we could see that our group had really gapped PHRF 2, 3, and most of PHRF 4. We caught a break and it was lightening to the south.

We battled Tonic, eventually passing them to round the windward mark in Fern Cove in first place. Selecting the S2, we sailed down the east shore along Vashon in current relief. Passing some earlier starters from the Commodores class, White Squall and BellaRose, it was clear the shore was working.

For a while we had extended on our class, then we sailed out of the northerly as a light southwest wind took over near the bottom of Colvos Passage. We swapped back to the light headsail, and we now had a stack of boats catching us, as we tried to enter the newly forming wind pattern.

Up at the front of the fleet was now Myrrh, Flicka, Gnarwhal, TC, Slick, Sidewinder, and Panic. In the end, it paid to continue playing the beach the rest of the way to the finish line. Gnarwhal, Flicka, and Slick, led TC and Myrrh across the line. On corrected time, the top spot in our class went to Gnarwhal, followed by Myrrh and TC.

Around the fleet, class honors went to J/133 Constellation, Flying Tiger 10 Tigger, J/35 Flicka, J/29 Slick (who also won overall), and Ranger 33 Aurora. The Cruising and Commodores classes were won by Pearson 36 Koosah, Beneteau First 375 BellaRose, and C&C 34 Jolly Rumbalow.

The boats that could finish within the next 30 minutes were very fortunate. The price of this beautiful coming spring was very slow sailing for those that kept racing. It was a gorgeous day with spectacular Mount Rainier and Olympic views to enjoy. Spring is here, what a difference a week makes!

The fleet learned of a course alteration during the pre-start. Photo from video taken by Jonathan Salter.

Full results at: