It was an amazing day to be out sailing on Puget Sound for the annual Carol Pearl Blakely Rock Benefit Race on April 13!

The wind was a steady 10 to 14 knots from the north, which determined the course would bring the fleet of 71 boats from Shilshole Bay north to Meadow Point, southwest across Puget Sound to Blakely Rock, and back to Shilshole.

Overall winner Dark Star charging through the fleet on the run to Blakely Rock.

The J/105 class had nine boats on the line: Avalanche, Corvo, El Gato, Insubordination, Moonglow, Moose Unknown, Panic, Peer Gynt, and Puff. We had an all-clear start with the pin favored on a very long start line. Moose won the pin and we found a good spot about one-quarter to the pin on Peer Gynt (PG), with Insub and Panic setup to our right and Moonglow and Puff just below. The wind looked a bit better outside, but the previous starts had taken more of a middle road to Meadow Point and looked a bit lifted on port.

Corvo tacked first, then Insub and Panic tacked to clear air, and we loosely covered with Moose staying farther out. Moose was making some gains on the fleet so we took another hitch. Approaching the shallows off the beach, we couldn’t quite make the layline. The need for one more hitch gave us the opportunity to tack on Moose.

We rounded first at Meadow Point, but promptly hourglassed the kite with a tight lazy sheet and struggled to clear it as the fleet passed by. Moose took the lead but Panic was threatening them with a big wind shadow. We finally got flying and sailed hot to get some clear air as Corvo, Moonglow, and Gato started making gains. Panic and Moose heated up too and crossed toward the shipping lanes. We weren’t going to win by sticking there behind, so we tried lots of ups and downs and finally found a good low mode where we crept past Panic and gained back some ground on Moose. Some boats made it from Meadow Point all the way to Blakely Rock on starboard while others did a couple jibes, but the wind was nicely aligned with the course for an easy ride.

The rounding at the rocks got a bit complicated with traffic. The J/105s had started to catch up with the boats that started earlier and some of the faster boats were catching us. Moose rounded first with our Peer Gynt crew in close pursuit with Libby and Jonathan McKee’s Riptide 44, Dark Star, taking a riskier inside route—putting us in the dreaded “Moose/gold medalist sandwich” with no way out. We waited to clear the shallows north of the rocks and tacked to clear our air. We were recovering comfortably back on port heading toward Discovery Park with moderate breeze building to the right, when along came Moose to tack on us. Perhaps Moose, too, was affected by Dark Star or they were just looking for an opportunity of their own. Fearing a 5-mile tacking duel, which would cost us time in the overall, we tried to loosely cover Panic and stay a bit farther left. Course right still looked better so eventually we all headed toward Elliott Bay.

The next critical challenge was a barge going about the same speed as us, as well as an inbound container ship on the horizon. The fleet eventually ducked the barge but was in an uncomfortable position with the ship as it turned in toward Elliott Bay. A single long horn signal from the big ship came as it completed its turn.

Everyone rounded West Point with a bit of care as low tide was approaching. Heading back in toward the locks, Moose leebowed us and we tacked to clear and passed just ahead of Gaucho on starboard. Moose made some gains, so we tacked back. The pin was favored on the final approach and everyone seemed to know it. We were trying to stay high enough to avoid the wind shadow of Scheme with the looming fear of being rolled by Maverick at our heels. Moose and Scheme were close at the finish and crossed ahead of us on Peer Gynt. It was a perfect day for the J/105 class and Moose got second in the overall, losing only to Dark Star.

Congrats to Moose on the class win, and to everyone who got out there and participated in this great race! This year the proceeds benefited Footloose Disabled Sailing.

Full results at:

Photos courtesy of Zachary Shane Orion Lough.