2008 Race Reports
Spring Series Race 7: 6/11/08
Conditions: Cloudy, Windy, Big Swell, West 15-25 knots, 55 Degrees
Course: Start-Hatchery-Green Can W of Bridge-Hatchery-Harbor Finish
The Spring Series ended much as it began -- with a cold, windy day. Temira was walking the docks before the race commenting on the mast high-swells and 40+ knot breeze that had been ripping through Dougs Beach the afternoon. Mt. Hood peeked through the clouds with a fresh coat of snow from the previous night's storm. Defiance was snow covered as well, the river level was near its all time high, and the river water temperature went down 2 degrees this week. Weather crazy enough for you?
Only four boats made it out -- Electric Mayhem, Slowly Going Grey, Mirage and Gorgeous. It didn't seem right without Mojito, which has been one of the most consistent boats in the fleet the past two years. We missed you Doug!
With the high water and still ripping current -- at least 2 1/2 knots -- the name of the game was still to stay in the current going upwind and stay out of it going downwind. The big swells were challenging, with some of the steepest chop that racers have seen this year from the Event Site all the way up to the Hatch.
The start was pretty hasslefree with only four boats on the line. Gorgeous took the early lead, with Mayhem just to weather of Mirage and Going Grey slightly further back. Mayhem showed better pointing than Mirage and slowly crept ahead. Mirage also pushed too far over to the Washington side of the river and into the backeddy near shore,, while Mayhem stayed out in the main channel. By the weather mark, Mayhem had rounded first, followed by Gorgeous right behind and then Mirage, with Going Grey further behind.
On the downwind, the wind eased up a bit and made for a relatively (by Gorge standard) uneventful spinnaker run. Mirage closed the gap with Mayhem and rounded right behind them, with Gorgeous a bit further back and Going Grey gamely giving chase.
The wind and swells had eased up enough for boats to shake the reefs out of their mains on the next upwind leg. Again, Mayhem proved to have better pointing ability and re-established a solid lead on Mirage. Mayhem rounded first, followed by Gorgeous, Mirage and Going Grey.
Some big gusts of wind came rolling through the fleet near Wells Island (always near Wells Island!), and Mirage in particular got on a full plane and was flying downwind with the knotmeter reading into the high teens. Mirage again reeled in the smaller boat on the downwind, with boat boats jibing around the Event Site buoy and hugging the shallow water near the sandbar. Mayhem got a little too close and ran aground on the soft sand, showing off their newly sanded keel as the boat surged forward with the chute up. They popped right off the sandbar pretty easily and kept on racing. Mirage also got a little too close, but with a depth meter on board, they had the advantage of bailing out right before hitting bottom.
A big southerly surge of wind (calling it a puff wouldn't do it justice) then put the leading boats onto headstay reaches and they skirted the sandbar and headed back to the harbor just barely on the edge of control. Mayhem dropped their chute first and headed up for the Marina entrance, while Mirage carried the chute a bit too long and had to drop it quickly as Mayhem headed up into them. Mirage's chute grazed (ok, actually covered) the foredeck of Mayhem, so Mirage did its circles to exonerate itself. As Brian said afterwards to Stan, "If you wanted us to take down your chute for you, you should have just asked."
Mayhem cruised to a first place finish, thus almost certainly winning them first place in the Spring Series with Mojito's DNC. Mayhem was next, followed by Gorgeous and Going Grey. Stay tuned for offical results.
Next week: Rumors of warm weather!
Official 2008 Race Results
Spring Series Race 5: 5/28/08
Conditions: Cloudy, Gusty, WSW 10-25 knots, 60 degrees
Course: Start-Event Site Buoy-Bingen-Green Channel Marker East of Bridge-Bingen-Finish
Five boats -- Gorgeous, Slowing Going Grey, Mojito, Electric Mayhem and Mirage -- ventured out to the starting line on another cloudy and shifty semi-spring day in the Gorge. The wind was way out of the south, and the current was just ripping, with a few deadheads floating downriver to remind us just how fast the current was.
The water is perhaps as high in the river as it's ever been -- the sandbar is completely submerged, and you could actually go swimming at the Marina swim beach! As has become a ritual at the start of races this year, Gorgeous' first priority was to sail over the bridge and make sure the mast of the 41' Nelson Marek would fit under the span (it did, but not by much!)
As the only boat in the fleet with a working air horn, Mirge started off the race for the short upwind leg to the Event Site. All the boats got off evenly, except for Mojito which seemed to get stuck behind the fleet and got caught in bad air. There wasn't enough of an upwind to allow much lead-changing to take place; the key decision was trying to figure out the layline to the weather mark -- with the current ripping at 3 knots, the rule of the day was tack early and just get set on up to the mark. Gorgeous rounded first, followed by Mirage, Mayhem, Mojito and Going Grey.
After the mark, Gorgeous held off on the spinnaker set and Mirage took the lead. The wind was initially in the teens, but with it coming out of the south it was almost a headstay reach with the chute up. With the strong current, you could feel the boats battling the water to fight downwind. Gorgeous set its chute, and Mayhem caught its quarter wave and surfed downwind with the bigger boat, slowly gaining on Mirage out in front. The three boats were locked closely together for most of the downwind.
Bart had an ace crew on Slowly Going Grey, including Tamara, Lance, and Lore and the general consensus was that the boat needs to be renamed Quickly Going Grey... Bart was hanging tough with fast-off-the-wind Mojito all the way down to Bingen.
The wind got gustier and stronger as the boats neared Bingen, with some big mid-20s gusts ripping through the fleet near the mill. Mirage had a near-round up, but kept control and stayed off the rocks this time around. With the southerly wind and big gusts, it took some effort to work downwind to Bingen mark. Mayhem made it their first and managed a nice rounding, Mirage was just behind them and to the right of the mark, but waited just a little too long on the takedown and ended up giving up a couple of boatlengths. With the strong current, you had to work pretty hard not to get pushed into the mark! Gorgeous was right behind them, with Mojito and Going Grey behind them.
The next upwind was mostly a drag race back to the bridge, with the southerly wind making it a long port tack with a couple of short hitches to starboard for variety.... but few chances to make tactical gains. The wind eased up near the bridge, and after rounding the mark everyone was into light-air mode, trying to keep the chutes filled and fight off the current.
Mayhem stayed out in the deeper water, but Mirage headed left into the shallower water out of the current, ducking just below the parked barges, with Andy Mack calling out depth readings which sounded more like a grade school version of a NASA countdown (15, 14, 12, 10...) Fortunately, just as Mirage got behind the barge, the depth gauge starting climbing back up into the teens, and they saved themselves the ignominy of running aground two weeks in a row.
Unfortunately, while the current was slack behind the barge, so was the wind, and Mayhem gained a little ground on the Santa Cruz 27. The rest of the downwind was similar to the first, with some big gusts rolling down through the fleet.
Mayhem rounded first, with Mirage a few boatlenghts behind, followed by Gorgeous, with Mojito further back and Going Grey gamely following the Holder 20. The last upwind was another drag race downriver, with the main goal to stay in the current and get that 3 knot push downriver.
Mayhem crossed the finish line first, with Mirage next, followed by Gorgeouse, Mojito and Going Grey. Mayhem was definitely going to correct out on the fleet, but Mojito and Mirage were really close on corrected time -- we'll see what the official results say!
Official 2008 Race Results
Spring Series Race 4: 5/21/08 Water Soft, Rocks Hard
Conditions: Cloudy, Gusty, W 8-30 knots, 55 degrees
Course: Start-Hatchery-Bingen-Event Site Buoy-Finish
The wind was crazy strong all day Wednesday -- with gusts roaring down the Gorge and a roiling swell and whitecaps blanketing the river. The only real questions were "how many reefs?" and "do we really need to bring the chute with us today?" iWindsurf was reading gusts over 30 knots up and down the central Gorge... good thing we weren't sailing out of Arlington, it was gusting into the high 40s there!
Bart V. skippered his re-christened boat Slowly Going Grey out to the starting area, and was joined by Earth Girls, Mojito, Mirage, Gorgeous and Electric Mayhem. The pre-start manuevers confirmed that strength of the wind, and everyone battened down the hatches.
Given the nationwide shortage of compressed air, the HRYC race committee had to resort to using an old fashioned bike horn as the starting signal, which worked just fine as Grey, Mojito, Gorgeous, Mirage and Earth Girls all got off to good starts. Just fine, except, of course, that Mayhem hadn't heard the horn and was still circling near the bridge waiting for the 5 minute warning.
Earth Girls rounded up the fleet and, in true Corinthian Spirit, everyone turned around to restart. About the same time, a strange thing happened: the wind died! As everyone headed back to the start, the small jibs came down, reefs were shaken out, and the wind dropped to the teens, with bigger lulls in the mix. The Gorge, as it happens, had blown itself out.
With a deep breath and renewed purpose, Mojito once again started the fleet with the human air horn, and everyone got off to an equal start. Mirage was in phase with the shifting wind for most of the beat and managed to stay in front of Gorgeous for most of the leg. As often happens, there was a big northerly shift near the White Salmon river. Mirage got trapped a little too close to the Washington side after the White Salmon bridge, which allowed Mojito, Mirage and Earth Girls to make up ground in the center of the channel.
Gorgeous managed to round first, followed by Mirage, Mayhem, Mojito, Earth Girls and Kingfisher. The wind continued to die on the downwind, and all the boats stayed close to Wells Island to take advantage of the slack current near shore. Mirage stayed out in front, with the Mojito, Mayhem and Earth Girls in a group not far behind.
A few puffs rolled down the course, interspersed with big lulls that made it hard to keep the chutes full. As the boats made their way down towards the Event Site, the wind started to build a bit, with Mirage in the lead catching some nice puffs through the bridge and down towards the Bingen Mill.
Mirage stayed close to the Bingen shore to keep out of the swift spring current, while the other boats stayed more to the center of the river. In the slack current Mirage was slowly legging out on the other boats, and looked to have a first-to-finish if they could hang on.
And hang-on turned out to be the operative word. A big puff-lift rolled down the course and slammed into Mirage, knocking her over into an almost round-up. A series of puffs pummeled the boat as the valiant crew (and particularly the spin trimmer) tried to get the boat back under control. Just as the boat settled down, another big puff-knock came from the left and spun the boat into an immediate round-down, laying the boat flat on its side and putting the masthead in the water. With the main pinned and filled, the boat stayed down.
Tamara on Earth Girls commented on how good the keel looked -- and then seeing how long Mirage was on its side, Earth Girls started to take their chute down to come rescue the Mirage crew, fearing that the boat may be taking on water.
On Mirage, Stan was knocked overboard and managed to hold on the backstay to stay connected to the boat. Through some quick crewwork led by Andy Mack, Mirage was able to get the chute down and the boat finally righted itself... but the boat was drifting on port tack towards the rip-rap shorline near the Bingen Mill. Stan attemped to tack out of it, but with zero boatspeed and strong current, it just wasn't happening.
As Mirage drifted towards the rocks, a couple of valiant (but not necessarily smart) crew jumped off Mirage and onto to the rocks to fend off, and Stan climbed off the back of the boat to hold the stern off. Fortunately, the boat was now on starboard tack, with the current pushing the boat against the rocks but the wind pushing it off -- a fortunate balance of forces. The crew was able to push the bow out and off and Mirage sailed off the rocks... and continued in the race!
In the meantime, the rest of the boats in the race roared through the same stretch of gnarly puffs, with Earth Girls getting knocked into a round up (Tamara reported that the puff was strong enough to pull the twings through of the blocks!). Mojito and Mirage were on the edge of control, surfing down to the mark at crazy speeds... Mojito was in front, but blinked and dropped their chute early, allowing Mayhem to rocket by as they approached the leeward mark.
Mayhem rounded first, followed by Mojito, Gorgeous and right behind them, Mirage, Earth Girls and Kingfisher. The fleet kept the positions through the gusty final upwind back to the Event Site, with Mayhem earning a well-deserved first to to finish, and with Mojito getting the bullet on corrected time.
Back at the dock, Mirage was both disappointed and relieved to find only minor damage to the boat -- some
scratches to the gelcoat above waterline and a small 3/4" chunk missing from the trailing edge of the rudder.
Bart, aren't you glad you didn't sail the Space Ark today?
[Ed. Note: Stan pulled Mirage from the water on Friday and discovered that, in fact, all the damage was supericial -- scratches and small chunks of fairing material that had fallen off, but no structural damage whatsoever. The chunk missing from the rudder was actually an optical illusion -- the dark bottom paint fairing coat had come off a small section, but the core of the rudder wasn't damaged at all. Stan filled in the areas and re-launched the boat this weekend and will be ready to race next Wednesday]
Official 2008 Race Results
Spring Series Race 3: 5/14/08 Warm, Really...
Conditions: Sunny, W 15-25 knots with killer gusts, 75-80 degrees
Course: Start-Event Site-Bingen-Event Site-Finish
After two weeks of cold weather and cold water saiilng, summer weather made its first appearence in the Gorge -- with temps in the high 70s and a nice westerly breeze... and of course, your intrepid correspondence happened to be out of town and missed the racing.
Surpringly, only four boats came out to share the tepid conditions, with Mojito, Mirage, Mayhem and Gorgeous on the race course. Mojito continued their string of bullets, with Mayhem and Mirage close behind.
Let's hope this weather keeps up for next week!
Official 2008 Race Results
Spring Series Race 2: 5/7/08 Hurly-Burly
Conditions: Cloudy, Gusty, W 15-25 knots with killer gusts, 50 degrees
Course: Start-Hatchery-Green Bridge Buoy-Event Site Buoy-Finish
Four boats ventured out tonight -- Gorgeous, Mirage, Mojito and, making their season debut, Earth Girls. It was good to see Lore's boat on the racecourse, with her top notch crew of Tamara, Lance and Randy!
The weather was classic Hood River spring: cloudy, windy, gusty and erratic. It was still cold, but not as bad as last week, even though the snow was still eerily visible on the lower elevations of the Gorge hillsides. It looked more like March than May!
Boats rigged down to their smaller sails and headed out into what looked to be a windy day. The wind near the start was strong and gusty, as expected, in the mid-twenties. With a long line and four boats, everyone got off to a good start. Gorgeous and Mirage took the left side of the line, while Mojito and Earth Girls favored the right. As is the spring custom, staying right in the deep water generally paid off as the current was ripping and gave boats an extra knot or two of upwind speed. Past the Event Site, the wind dropped off a bit and boats were stood up and not going as fast in the steep chop.
Gorgeous rounded first, followed Mirage, Earth Girls and Mojito. On the downwind, boats stayed right to keep out of the current, sticking close to Wells Island. The wind picked up again, and some big puffs started rolling down the course. Gorgeous was wise not to hoist; Mirage put up their big chute and was surfing down in the puffs, keeping the boat moving fast and upright even in the shifty breeze. Mirage was feeling pretty proud of their boat handling, when a big left hook came down the course and instantly rolled the boat into a round down. John Ritter went swimming but managed to hang on to the lifeline. As luck would have it, the chute stayed full enough during the round down not to get twisted, and it popped the boat right back up, John climbed back aboard and Mirage sailed away, losing only about 30 seconds in the crash. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the only damage was a bent VHF antenna (that was easily bent back). Earth Girls went through a similar round down shortly thereafter, but their chute didn't come out quite as clean.
Mirage overtook Gorgeous on the downwind and made its way to the bridge for the leeward mark rounding. As luck would have it, a barge was coming through right as Mirage was to round. After some debating as to whether to round in front or behind the barge--and wisely, they decided behind was safer--Mirage doused their chute to head up to the mark... which revealed a long line of fishing nets trailing off the bridge! Mirage had to do an almost-crash tack to get above them, then, just as they were clear, headed down to the mark to find another set of nets right off the mark itself. Despite the obstacle course, Mirage managed to get around the mark without fouling the nets or the buoy.
Gorgeous rounded next, followed by Mojito -- who also had issues getting around the nettage, which forced them above the mark. While they avoided the nets and tried to clear themselves by going back behind the mark, they didn't 'unwind the string' and hence didn't officially round. No word from the official scorer as to whether this will be counted against them, as they clearly had enough problems with the nets to slow them down regardless of the rules. Mojito's problems at the mark allowed Mirage to lengthen its lead on the final upwind, and they rounded the Event Site mark first, followed by Gorgeous, Mojito and Earth Girls just behind.
On the downwind, Mirage had to delay it's spinnaker set due to a problem with the pole. Once the chute got up, Mirage got into a big puff of breeze and surfed all the way down to the finish line, hitting double digits on the speedo. Mirage crossed first, followed by Gorgeous, who didn't set a chute. Mojito was third, which looked to be on a full plane with skipper Doug hiking out hard as they rocketed across the line, just nipping out Earth Girls.
Unofficially, it looked like Mirage would take both first to finish and corrected time, followed by Mojito, Earth Girls and Gorgeous. [Ed. Note: The official scorer ruled Mojito DNF due to not rounding the leeward mark correctly; they would have corrected out 14 seconds in front of Mirage had they not had problems at the mark].
Official 2008 Race Results
Spring Series Race 1: 4/30/08 We've Got the Fever
Conditions: Cloudy, Gusty, W 10-20 knots, gusty with big lulls, rain, 45 degrees
Course: Start-Hatchery-Green Bridge Buoy-Hatchery-Finish
At the dock, everyone was marveling at the great summer weather we had for our first race of the season. 68 degrees, sunshine, blue skies -- everyone was out in t-shirts and shorts, and it was only the end of April! This
surely was a good sign for a great season of sailing.
OK, so that was the hypothermia talking. No two ways about it: it was COLD for our first race of the season, with rain squalls rolling down the Gorge, dark clouds obscuring the sun and generally frozen fingers and shivering among all the crew. In the parking lot, everyone was rooting around in their trunks looking for another layer to pull on... The predicted hail squalls didn't happen, which was a blessed consolation to the six intrepid boats who ventured out: Mirage, Electric Mayhem, Mojito, Gorgeous, Kingfisher and, joining us from Portland, a Melges 24.
The race itself was relatively uneventful -- the Melges, true to its rating, legged out on the fleet and stayed in front, with Mirage next, Gorgeous, Mayhem and Mojito close behind, and Kingfisher coming in behind
Thanks to Randy on Tamawanas for handling race committee!