Light winds haunt Protection Island race

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 5/29/21

Racing for just shy of 18 hours aboard the Thunderbird Mabuhay, it was skipper Greg Barron who would be going home with the bragging rights from the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s …

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Light winds haunt Protection Island race

Posted

Racing for just shy of 18 hours aboard the Thunderbird Mabuhay, it was skipper Greg Barron who would be going home with the bragging rights from the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s Protection Island Race.

It was a beautiful but trying day on the water, with the light winds coupled with stubborn tides and currents to be-devil the small feet of vessels trying to get out to Protection Island and back.

The May 15 race made for interesting viewing as the fleet demonstrated its different strategies to get through the gate and beyond the potato patch on the other side of Point Wilson and into the straights.

Some sailed far to the east, others made for the inside near the beaches off Fort Worden in the back eddies, and others attempted to get the best wind line and favorable currents.

For all, it was slow going to get out to the island. All were heading west in the dying breeze and slacking ebb to make the counterclockwise rounding.

Cito, skippered by Sean Rankins was one of the furthest out still when the wind died and the tide turned, setting the boat adrift aft and spinning back slowly towards Admiralty inlet. It took those aboard a while to realize that they were not slowly advancing at .5 knots across the bottom, but getting set back.

In response, Cito dropped her headsail and bobbed around, while her crew enjoyed a bite of food, a beer, and patiently observed the gyrations of the drifting fleet further up the course in the distance.

Some participants were still able to maneuver somewhat and continue to try and set themselves up in a favorable position for an approaching westerly. Approximately 1.7 miles out from the northeast corner of Protection Island, Cito’s crew found themselves watching patiently for any breeze coming in along the southern side of the island.

Cito capitalized on some pressure that formed on the southern side of the island and further west, by tacking into the band as it arrived at the boat.

“And off we sailed committed to our new flyer away from the fleet,” recalled Rankins in a recap posted to the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s website. ”The breeze was light but steady, and the currents manageable sailing along close to the leeward shore of Protection island, and we made it to the spit end of Kanem point as the Schooner Martha and others came around from the west.”

Rankins reckoned Cito lucked out after rounding the island as she was met with good breeze and a favorable current.

“The spinnaker run back around Point Wilson and into P.T. Bay was such a reward after the efforts to get around the island,” Rankins added. “The out-of-the-bay races can sure be a challenge on many levels, but they sure are fun. We hope the sailing association will keep running them!”

Greg Barron, skippering Mabuhay took first place in the Protection Island Race. Owl carried her skipper, Dale Dunning to a third-place finish, despite being the second boat to cross the finish line. Cito and Rankins, were third to cross the finish line but a Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) adjustment bumped the boat up to the two-spot.

Blewbird and her skipper Bill Broekhof took fourth place, followed by Roland Nikles aboard Falcon in the five spot.

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