This past weekend 20 505 teams assembled for 3 days of racing in the Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River Gorge delivered!
Many teams arrived on Thursday to get tuned up. Marginal trapping on for the shakedown cruise and 85-degree temperatures, wet suits optional.
Friday morning the breeze built and the race committee threatened 4 races in 20+ knot conditions. Teams raked past 0 for the 3 opening races with winds clocking in at 28 knots measured at Stevenson. Puff driven shifts of 20 degrees presented challenges to stay in phase and get to the pressure. Day 1 races sailing was on the downriver (westerly course) with the weather mark nearer the launch and daring teams to enter the islands on the Washington shore. Staying in the positive current upwind versus pressure on the shore. As is typical of the flatwater conditions boats could find pointing and speed, hooked up in a high mode and on the escalator to the windward mark. Downwind, finding and staying in pressure with the crossing the middle was the trick. Wire running angles in pressure could send you straight upriver, being out of pressure send you traversing to the shore. There were swims and breakdowns but no broken rudders or broken masts a testament to the preparedness of the teams and seaworthiness of 505. I-14s went home and Melges looked miserable. There were bruises with crews colliding with the stern of the committee boat and near slicing when trying to avoid a I-14 Rudder foil. Downwind, was the classic set in pressure and take it to the Oregon side, or jibe and look for pressure on the Washington side. Downwind, the corners didn’t hurt and too much time in the middle didn’t pay.
In the evening, the leaders shared the dos and don’t at one of the best debriefs I have been too in recent years. It was a continuation of the Gorge Clinic, with the world champions and former world champions sharing tips and tricks. It was agreed that the day was much less of a boat speed day and more about finding consistent pressure and avoiding transient shifts. Our boat admonished for not carrying enough vang and sailing too loose, which is a real breakthrough for a habitual pincher.
For those camping, Friday night was a night of windy tents and threatening moisture at dawn on Saturday. Developed overcast from the west and no blue sky to the east made wonder would the pressure come? Champagne sailing on day 2 with the most team opting to wear spray jackets over wetsuits. Temperatures were perfect. Less settled cloud-driven pressure 18-22, masts raked to +2, +6 and less. Races 4 and 5 saw good pressure and race 6 wind abating with race 7 pressure back high teens. No need for a bailer in the Gorge. Race 1 and 2 Oregon side paid more up and downwind, with some teams trying and finding luck on the Washington side.
Sunday forecast for 10-13 saw postponement ashore for an hour and then full hiking for race 8 and building to marginal trap for race 9 and 10 with the sail in 18 knots – the Gorge was pumping again.
Having missed the June Gorge Clinic we were anxious to hear and see what we had missed. Pacific Northwest teams benefited from the coaching and combat training and many breaking into the front group. Great job to the Pacific Northwest for a much-improved performance in the breeze.
When the dust settled it was a Mike and Adam / Howard and Jeff show with the perennial Mike and almost new to the 505 Keahi in 3rd. The reigning world champions showed forte and prowess in all conditions.
We had sailors from San Diego to Vancouver. 2 from Hawaii, and 2 from Brisbane Australia, making it a well represented Pacific Coast Championship.
– Aaron Ross
Shout out to all those who made the trek north from California including da Fat Boys looking slim. Chris Gregg was sailing fast in the breeze on with his dad Ian Greg from Darling Harbor, Brisbane Australia.
Newcomers to the fleet were notably impressed by a high level of competition and more importantly the legendary warmth of the 505 fleet.