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32nd Running of Winter Vashon

Mon, 7th Dec 2009
By Greg Larson

32nd Running of Winter Vashon

Winter Vashon started off with the boats arriving all week,  most arriving on Friday afternoon and evening of December 4th.  As always Tacoma Yacht Club hosted a great party with beverages and dinner provided to the racers.  This year Ullman Sails and West Marine sponsored the event.  Ullman Sails provided free t-shirts for the participants, while West Marine had a great raffle and gave away lots of prizes.

For Pictures Click this link

Saturday morning the sailors were greeted with fog, and little or no wind.  The race committee postponed the start for about an hour until the fog started too lift and the wind filled in from the northeast.   This year the race committee started the race off the water from a power boat named Orion owned by Peter Stanley about 200 yards east of the club house.  This provided a better starting platform and kept the racers out of the way of the ferry traffic.
The first start was pulled off at 9:20 which sent the cruising fleet on their way.  This fleet consisted of 16 boats in two classes, flying sails and no flying sails.  The rest of the boats had to wait 30 minutes before   the committee would start the fleet of hard core racers.  

The first start of the hard core racers was class A, which consisted of 5 multi-hulls, followed by 3 more mono-hull starts.  Each non-hull start was made up of two fleets, B and C, then D and E, followed last by F and G.  By 10:10 all fleets were on their way around Vashon Island.  
The winds at the start of the race were light and variable, from an angle that allowed all the racers to pop their spinnakers and reach for the Colvos Passage.   The bulk of the fleet headed out into the middle, taking the rhumb line for the south end of Vashon Island.    Some of the other racers tried to play the Point Defience beach to get some current relief. There was more wind out in the middle although a large tidal out flow slowed their progress. 
As boats got abreast of Owens beach the winds lightened and those in the middle started jibing for Point Defiance, seeking to stay out of the strong outgoing tide.   Others hung on to their original plan and continued on the rhumb line.  A few even dug in deep, trying to get some current relief right next to the beach off the sound end of Vashon island. 
As the racers approached Colvos Passage the winds clocked around to the southerly direction.  At this point the fleet spread out across the passage,  with some vying to get to the Gig Harbor side, while the bulk of the fleet played the middle.  A few boats even choose the Vashon Island side.   Those that played the Vashon Island side or the middle found a little more wind.  As the fleet jibed back and forth up Colvos the winds became extremely light and a variable.  Boats were searching for those little zephyrs to propel them ahead.
As the fleet approached Olalla the racers could see the wind coming down from the north.  The boats that were on the Gig Harbor side got the wind first.  The wind continued to build as the fleet tacked back and forth toward the north end of Vashon Island.  Some boats even shorted sails as they neared the north end of the island, but the bulk of the fleet hung on to their big sails and played the main during the puffs. 
Upon rounding the mark at the north end of the island the racers were only able to crack off their sails a little while they continued southeasterly to finish rounding the north end of Vashon Island.  Eventually everyone was able to put up their spinnakers and sail on a hard reach toward Point Robinson.  The winds were a little unsteady.  This variable wind also made a few boats unsteady and some boats were seen broaching, but they quickly recovered.
As the fleet approached Point Robinson the winds started to lighten up some.   After passing Point Robinson the bulk of the fleet headed across the channel to the Browns Point side, although some played the middle.  As the fleet progressed toward the finish the winds filled in more allowing the fleet to make the final push for the finish.  The boats that played the Browns Point side had a little more wind and made out a little better than those boats that played the middle. 
The first boat to finish was Dragonfly skippered by Richard Ackrill and Pat McGarry at
15:27:33, followed by Carl Buchan in Madronna at 16:00:04.  Dragonfly was not able to sail to their rating and finished last in the multi-hull class.  The multi-hull class was won by the F-27 Danger Zone Skippered by Jim Thompson.  Carl Buchan in Madronna corrected out in first place in Class B followed by John Leitzinger and Ken Marks in Kuhuna. 
The multi-hull class had the largest corrected time difference between the first and second place boats with Jim Thompson in Danger Zone correcting out ahead of Pax an F-32 skippered by Rod Thorp by 784 seconds.  The largest mono-hull corrected time difference between the first and second place boats goes to class D, where the C&C 115 Zorra skippered by Jim Lowry corrected out 403 seconds ahead of second place Absolutely skippered by Charlie Macaulay.  
Class G, the slowest hard core racing fleet, pulls off a clean sweep of the top three overall places.  Fandango, a T-Bird skippered by Jamie Storkman out of  Gig Harbor yacht club claims the first overall honors, followed by Mark Brink in Lady Bug finishing second overall, while the Santa Cruz 27 skippered by Dave Garman sails into the third overall spot. 
The cruising class fleets had some close racing.  Koosah a Pearson 36 skippered by Dave Knowlton finished first in the no flying sails fleet 72 seconds ahead of second place Releaf a Peason 30 skippered by Kelly Coon.  In the spinnaker boat cruising fleet  John Tebbetts in Ichi Ban a Yamaha 30 finished first, followed by the slowest rated boat in the race, Hagbagat, a San Juan 21 skippered by Fausto DeGusaran.
The racing got off to a foggy slow start, but everyone was able to finish strongly under spinnaker.  Most of the fleet finished in day light, or the last of the fading light, with the last boat finishing a little after 6 PM.  All in all, the 32nd running of the Winter Vashon provided a great day of sailboat racing.

 For results and more photos go to

This article was posted on Mon, 7th Dec 2009