Craziest Race Ever

Begins with anchor set. Crew below deck.  The bell rings all hands on deck.  That’s how the race begins.  I did it once and skip it every year since.  He really likes the speed drill, for him it’s like playing his violin scales. Well orchestrated chaos. He’s got it down to a science.

It’s the Gig Harbor LeMans 50th Anniversary.

The year that I went, brought my friend Wendy Jo along.  We will have that crazy story to share for the rest of our lives.  That year there was a delayed start.  I remember staying below deck and calling out numbers from the depth sounder.  The boat has an 8 foot draft and in a low tide that harbor is tricky crowded stressful. I didn’t like it. We burned up fuel over it.  Forgot all about it until the sail home and the wind died completely.

We got caught in this huge counter clockwise current centered between Gig Harbor, Colvos Passage & Vashon.  Right off Point Defiance.  It was especially dark because in that stretch of water there aren’t many lights because of the park side, Tacoma and the heavily forested south end of the island.

Of course without fuel or wind we couldn’t steer.  We were stuck in the counter clockwise current for hours.  45 minutes per circle. There were very experienced racers with us.  Everyone was creeped out.  One sailor exclaimed to Jon, I can’t watch the water’s surface anymore it doesn’t make sense and it’s making me sick.  Most of them retired below deck.  Biggest concern was drifting into ferry or freighter.

(fyi, this is the near the Vashon MIB/ Maury Incident, lol)

Jon stayed at the helm with Wendy Jo on port and myself on starboard.  We were visited by a large pod of Dall’s Porpoise.  Wendy Jo and I calmly conversed that they seemed to be swimming in a steady clockwise circle off the bow and if we timed it right we could catch their current like a gate out of the tidal gate we were stuck in.  Sort of like an infinity symbol. It worked and that’s how we got out of it.  Dall’s Porpoise.  We left for the race @ 7am, sailed all day and night and returned around 6 am, the race that year took almost 24 hours. No sleep for solid 24hrs counting the time to unload sails and park the boat.

Instructions for Classes 1 and 2 At the PREPARATORY SIGNAL:

  •  All boats will be anchored in their designated starting area. Maximum allowed scope for anchoring is 5:1
  •  All crew must be below deck.
  •  The mainsail must be down and on the boom and tied with at least one sail tie.
  • The headsail will be down on the foredeck. Roller-furling sails will be entirely furled.
  • Halyards may be attached and sails pre-fed.
  •  At each boat’s respective STARTING SIGNAL: Crew may come on deck, raise the anchor (no buoying the anchor), set sail and must pass through the start line. If your boat is over early you must round one end of the line to restart. Remember your lack of rights if doing so.

“S” – Short Course

From the designated starting areas inside Gig Harbor, boats will proceed north in Colvos Passage to a mark due east of Pt. Richmond and near the Vashon shore (north of Camp Sealth). Leave that mark to port and return to the finish line inside Gig Harbor.

“L” – Long Course

From the designated starting areas inside Gig Harbor, boats will proceed north around a temporary mark 400 yards east of the Olalla Bridge at approximately 47 25.215 N, 122 32.220 W (leave this mark to port) and return to the finish line inside Gig Harbor.

Rules, Protests, and Time Limit: The 2013-2016 ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing and the prescriptions of US Sailing, except as amended by this Notice and the Sailing Instructions will be followed. The 720 rule is in effect. The race committee must receive protests no later than two hours after the time limit for each class. The time limit will be 4.5 hours after the start of each class.



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