Too Much Wind For The First Race of the Nightcap Series

Five boats left Boat Haven for the race course on Saturday in a stiff breeze. By the time they got out to the committee boat the wind had picked up.  By the time the race was about to start the wind picked up some more.  Five boats decided not to race after all.  Thanks to Dave, the race committee, and Piper for braving the elements to get the committee boat out and anchored, and the course set, only to have to reverse the process and head back into the marina.

It was windy

By |2019-10-03T13:59:57-07:00September 29th, 2019|Racing on the Bay|0 Comments

2019 T-bird West Coast Championship Results

On August 31-September 1, 2019 the Port Townsend Sailing Association hosted the 2019 Thunderbird West Coast Championships. It was a well-run affair with a variety of windward-leeward courses set over seven races.  At the skippers’ meeting Saturday morning there was grumbling of “can we postpone sailing until this afternoon, when some wind is expected?” The race committee knew better.  

Sixteen boats made their way out to the anticipated starting area at the center of Port Townsend Bay by 10:30 a.m., drifting about as the race committee searched the horizon for wind. Some promising ripples soon appeared near Rat Island guarding the entrance to Kilisut Harbor.  By the time the fleet reassembled a perfect sailing breeze was blowing from the SE.  

Race 1.  To my eye the pin end seemed favored, and indeed the bulk of the fleet set up to start on starboard well down the line. Falcon started mid-line, off the front line, but with room to tack for clear air within a few boat-lengths off the line.  It was the right way to go. Jaunty (a Steve Scharf owned boat skippered by Matt Pistay, with Eric Dorman,  Brent Campbell, and Burgess Malarkey) nailed the start at the committee boat, tacked over to port, found better pressure on the right side of the course, and walked away with the race. Owl (skippered by Dale Dunning, with Kyle Marlantes, Lynn Watson, and sailmaker Eric Taylor) followed suit and finished second.  Raven finished third.  Kuma San (skippered by John Lynes and Jim Heumann) also followed the leaders to the right side and they had their best result of the regatta, finishing 5th.  

Race 2.  Conditions remained largely unchanged from the first race. Magic Bus (skippered by Piper Dunlap, with Dan Ginther, Robert Ambrose, and Lucas Hurt) started ahead, near the committee boat, and managed to out-distance everyone to the first tack. They lead all the way to the finish. Invader (Mike Dotson, with Olga Dotson and Cliff Wright) had their best showing of the regatta, finishing in second place.  Predator (Craig Burnell, Kemp Jones, Katherine Hovell, and Steve Garth) recovered from a poor first race and began to make their move in the regatta, finishing in third place, followed by Raven (Steve Scharf, Jon Piskula, Simon Miles, and Jeff Brantley).  

Race 3.  The wind continued to blow from the southeast, weakening slightly, and the race committee wasted no time in starting the third race.  It was Raven’s turn to start well. They launched and outflanked everyone, leading start to finish. Again on the right side of the course upwind.  Predator kept pace and finished second.  Magic Bus held their own and finished third.  Owl staked their claim for recognition in the regatta with another strong finish at fourth. 

As the wind died after the third race, the Port Townsend threesome of Raven (8 pts), Magic Bus (11 pts), and Owl (11 pts) had reason to look around proudly, leading Raptor (15 pts) and Predator (16 pts).  

Race 4.  After dwindling to very light and shifty, the wind soon settled in from the West at perhaps ten knots. “The middle right was favored,” said Stig Osterberg observing the regatta from his power boat, “you had to go to the right and flop over.” Raptor (Grant Chyz, Paul Chyz, Helen Chyz, and Chris Thompson) figured out the magic formula.  They had a good start and were battling with Raven on the first weather leg.  Raven tacked towards the middle of the course while Raptor carried out farther towards the right lay-line,” observed Osterberg.  Raptor’s patience and faith in the right side paid off and they won the race. Predator collected another second-place finish. Kolus (another Steve Scharf owned boat skippered by the Portland crew of Drew Wiener and Kerry Poe and friends) crossed the finish line third. Jaunty showed renewed signs of life in fourth place after two disappointing races.  Raven dropped to sixth place in the race.  

Race 5.  The last race on Saturday was dominated by Predator.  They got a good start, stayed right, and it paid off.  Raptor traded places with them from the previous race. Invader took the third spot. These top Seattle boats were beginning to assert themselves. Owl was the first Port Townsend boat across the line in fourth, followed by Raven in fifth.  

Saturday was a dramatic day of sailing. On a day where it did not seem destined, the race committee somehow delivered strong sailing breezes from two directions to maximize our views over five races. The Port Townsend backdrop provided allure and history, and the magnificent Olympic mountains looked on. The battle between the top Port Townsend boats and their Seattle challengers was joined. At the end of the first day, with no races to discard yet, the leaderboard was as follows: 

Predator 18 pts.

Raptor 19 pts.

Raven 19 pts. 

Owl 23 pts. 

Magic Bus 24 pts. 

Race 6.  Sunday morning brought the light winds some had feared for Saturday. After nearly three hours of drifting about on a glassy sea, and one abandoned race chasing an ephemeral NE breeze, the wind finally filled from the southeast. It was lighter than on Saturday, and the wind lasted just long enough to complete the race with a weather mark once again near Rat Island.  “In light air,” says Osterberg, “the key is to keep moving at the start, and to find pressure out on the course.  Magic Bus nailed it and won this race by a mile” marveled Stig Osterberg, who looked on from his boat parked on the edge of the course. Kolus had their best showing of the regatta, finishing second. Invader garnered a back-to-back third places, all of a sudden making them a real factor with the throw-out.  Raven had a terrible start,” observed Osterberg, “but they picked up perhaps 11 boats after the start on the upwind and downwind legs, salvaging a fourth place.” 

The wind promptly died again, setting up a dramatic final light air race.  The positions going into the final race (with the discard of all worst scores through six races) were as follows: 

Predator 13 pts.

Raven 17 pts.

Magic Bus 18 pts.

Raptor 19 pts.

Owl 23 pts. 

Race 7.  After a substantial delay, the wind filled in sufficiently from the North for one last dramatic race.  Magic Bus took themselves out of the game early. They were stuck to leeward and couldn’t get off the starting line, ultimately finishing ninth.  Kolus and Dorado (skippered by Molly Jackson, with Daubenberger (fils), Emily Bishop, and Michael Karas) won the first beat, but went towards the City Front after the weather mark and ran out of wind.  Raptor seized the moment by hanging back at the start, coming in late with speed at the committee boat, gybing left after the weather mark where they found more wind, and finishing first.  Owl finished strong with a second place. Raven finished third and Predator consolidated their overall regatta win with a fourth-place finish in the final race.

Final results: 

1. Predator 17 pts. 

2. Raptor 20 pts. 

3. Raven 20 pts.

4. Magic Bus 25 pts. 

5. Owl 25 pts. 

6. Invader 27 pts. 

Raptor won the tie-break with Raven by virtue of their two first place finishes, versus one for Raven. Magic Bus won the tie-break with Owl by virtue of their two first place finishes.  

Congratulations for a well-run regatta to the organizers, the race committee, and the crews of all 16 boats who showed up to compete. The Cotton Building was an ideal location for the Saturday dinner and the Sunday awards party. Point Hudson marina has lots of room. Spread the word. Let’s shoot for 20+ boats on the line next year.  

[Thank you to Stig Osterberg who shared his notes of the racing, and without whose help this recap would not have been possible]

Roland Nikles


Predator heading off to right side of course

 More photos on the Thunderbird Fleet 2 Facebook page.

By |2019-10-26T23:05:33-07:00September 3rd, 2019|Racing on the Bay, Thunderbirds|0 Comments

Fall Nightcap Series – Race 3

Thatuna , Raven, Blew Bird and Boreas came to challenge the forecast 15 – 18 kt. Southerly winds.  On arrival at the Boat Haven the wind was 20 -23 kts.  As the wind was forecast to decrease during the afternoon and observations to the south were in the low teens, the Committee Boat headed out into a 3 – 4 ft chop.  By the time course SGIF was set up the wind was in the high twenty’s when the pin headed downwind (Anchor fouled by chain).  The start was postponed for the recovery of the pin when a long gust over 35 kts convinced all involved to cancel the race.

By |2016-10-01T17:08:56-07:00October 1st, 2016|Racing on the Bay|0 Comments

Summer Cat’s Paw Series – Race 7

Race 7 was scheduled as a “make-up” should we not be able to run six successful races in the regular series to permit a throw-out of each boat’s worst performance.  This year we had six completed races but had not celebrated the series with a BBQ as tradition dictates.  As the RC tends to loiter around the Boat Haven Friday evenings (needs to get a life) we went out for a race.  The only ingredient missing was the wind.  Occasionally a 2.5 kt breeze would spring up (with gusts to 3) but never from the same direction.  So the RC spent an hour frustrated and fretting while the fleet patiently used the time to socialize and bond.  One boat reported being able to sail completely round the committee boat – but didn’t mention if it was all on the same tack.

Not wanting to be late for the BBQ, as is usual for the RC, the race was called around 18:50.  Ironically, as the N flag was raised the wind filled in solidly from the NW.  Too late for a race but at least it helped everyone get back to their moorage in time for the party.  Thanks to Steve, Dean and Tulip it was great.

The Race Committee would like to congratulate the series winners and thank everyone for not noticing (or at least not commenting upon) the occasional confusion and errors by the RC.

NOTICE:- The Dog Days races have been moved from Fridays to Wednesday and merged with the Ed Barcott series.  There will not be any regular RC support or recording of results.

The next regular series (the Fall Nightcap) starts Sunday September 18 th at 13:00.

NOTICE, NOTICE:- Don’t forget the Bush Point distance race this Saturday, July 30 th., Noon start from City Dock, report your own finish time.

ALSO:- The Ted Pike Memorial Race August 20 th. at Noon (details to follow, but it involves a Keg of Rum).

AND:- The Thunderbird Regional Regatta September 3 – 4.

By |2016-07-24T11:53:35-07:00July 23rd, 2016|On the Water, Race Reminder, Racing on the Bay|0 Comments

Second Dog Days Race.


The crew on KOLUS having summer fun in great breeze. Things got a little more tippy when the wind moved onto the beam around the Pt. Hudson buoy. Photo by Wendy Feltham

Wind conditions before the race were 3 – 5 kts varying between W and NE.  The participants chose to go to the Marine Science Center Buoy and back.  After the start the wind settled to a Westerly and increased to 8 – 10 kts at the dock with gusts to 13, it was reportedly much stronger in the inlet.  The fleet was finishing before the RC could finish their snack.  The suggestion of a second lap was not well received as  the wind was still building and several boats were overpowered.

More photos and complete results after the break


By |2014-08-09T11:08:59-07:00August 9th, 2014|Racing on the Bay|0 Comments

Report on PT Sailors at the the 505 North Americans in Santa Cruz

Dan and Piper power reaching in Santa Cruz breeze. Photo by John Navas

Dan and Piper keeping it flat upwind in Santa Cruz breeze. Photo by John Navas

Piper Dunlap reports in on the 5o5 North Americans in Santa Cruz

Port Townsend sailors, Sugar Flanagan, Sean Rankins, Spencer Snapp, Dan Ginther, and Piper Dunlap all made the pilgrimage to Santa Cruz, CA last weekend to compete in the 2014 505 Dinghy North American Championship Regatta. This was the first time that each of these sailors has competed at this level in the class, and they all came home tired, sore, a little humbled, but satisfied having raced against the best in the land in the classic challenging conditions that Santa Cruz is famous for – ocean swell and 10 to 30 knots of breeze.

Big breeze generally takes its toll though, and Santa Cruz was no exception. There was a lot of boat repair going on ashore. Sugar and Spencer sheared their beautiful spruce rudder off at the lower pintel while practicing in 25 plus before the regatta, but were able to affect repairs and procure a new foil from famed 505 builder, Larry Tuttle, in time for the first race. Dan and Piper had to retire from Race 5 because they broke their tiller extension during a high wind spinnaker gybe which quickly evolved into a capsize. Or was it a capsize that resulted in a broken extension? No one knows for sure!

By |2014-06-01T14:03:10-07:00June 1st, 2014|Racing out of the Bay|0 Comments

Riding The Storm Out In The Southern Ocean

From, the Clipper Round the World race meets a powerfull storm in the Southern Ocean.


Dear Readers, I feel I owe you a full explanation of the previous day’s storm activities, so here goes, let’s go back to 16 November.

All signs (fleet reports, Clipper Race weatherman Simon Rowell’s weather predictions and my pigtails) were that the front would hit us sometime mid to late afternoon, local time.

Mid-morning we had dropped our other headsail which meant a loss in speed as it was great surfing but prudent given the incoming weather forecast. We were now running with just the storm jib and the third reefed mainsail.

I scoured the barometer readings and wind instruments over lunch, which were showing well established gale strength conditions and shortly afterwards, donned my Henri Lloyd ocean jacket and ski goggles and prepared for a good few hours on deck helming us through the front. The wind shifts that come with these fronts can be very severe and it pays to have an experienced sailor on the helm at these times to try and avoid an accidental gybe or knockdown, not that this is always possible in these extreme circumstances. Still, I looked the part!

By |2013-11-18T16:18:08-08:00November 18th, 2013|Racing out of the Bay|0 Comments

Round The County Race, 2013

Dan Newland Reports on PEGASUS’s Race in the 2013 Round The County. Photo’s by Sean Trew.

PEGASUS at RTC 2013. Photo by Sean Trew

PEGASUS at Round The County, 2013. Photo by Sean Trew

This years’ RTC was an interesting contrast between what should have been and what was.  It should have had decent wind Saturday with light winds Sunday but reality has its own agenda.   The County Race (RTC), it is an annual race that races around San Juan County which comprises all the major San Juan Islands like Orcas, San Juan and Lopez Islands plus the nearly countless smaller islands, rocks and reefs of this under water mountain range between the US mainland and Canada.  On even years, it goes around the islands clockwise and on odd years like this year, goes counterclockwise.  The total distance is about 65 miles overall with the first leg Saturday to Roche Harbor at 34.3 miles and the halfway /shortened course mark at 17 nautical miles from the start.  The second day starts off Mosquito pass near Roche Harbor, is 16.4 miles to the halfway/shortened course mark with 31.4 miles for the full distance.  The race is so popular that the fleet is limited in size with this year at the typical maximum of 89 boats.

The San Juan Archipelago

The San Juan Archipelago

Our day on board Pegasus XIV began from Anacortes Saturday morning having delivered the boat there the day before.  We left the dock at 7:15 and with the current behind us at 2 knots, we were able to cover the 8.5 miles pretty quickly for what should have been our start at around 8:50 at Lydia Shoals, a bell buoy off the SE corner of Orcas Island.  The wind was from the east at 9-12 knots and the weather was hazy but not overcast so it promised to be a great day of sailing.  By the time we reached the starting line though, it had already shown signs of lightening up with lulls down to 6 knots and dropping while also swinging north.  The wind was atypical in that it was 180 degrees from the normal southerly direction which meant an upwind start for this years’ counterclockwise direction.

By the time the first start was to happen for the slower boats in PHRF divisions 2 and 3, the winds were so light that few boats could maintain station going against the current from the south and the light northerly and that included us in Divisions 0 and 1.  The winds finally picked up a bit and the first divisions sequence was started at about 8:50 but so many boats were over the line early, they were called back for a general recall.  The start #1 redo was delayed a bit for more wind which finally did materialize so the next sequence did get off without a hitch.  The next two starts went off without general recalls a bit after 10:00 so we had a race!  We were fairly conservative as were many others since being early would have been deadly against that current had anyone had to return for a restart.  Some of the local boats went in shore on a long starboard picking up a lift on the port tack and crossed ahead of those of us that went out for more current but it was a long race so a few seconds would mean little in the overall scheme of things.


By |2013-11-22T12:07:25-08:00November 15th, 2013|Racing out of the Bay|0 Comments

Dog Days, August 30th.

VIVACE rounds the Tower. Photo by Wendy Feltham

VIVACE rounds the Tower. Photo by Wendy Feltham

The August 30th PTSA Dog Days series race lived up to its billing. A number of boats came out, Joe shouted out the course, the wind almost died by the Tower but picked up as we sailed back to other side of the Bay, all boats finished with smiles on. A lovely night on the water. The results were that it is almost always better to go sailing than almost anything else.

Thanks as always to Wendy for more great pictures, a full set follows the break.


By |2013-08-31T08:07:22-07:00August 31st, 2013|Racing on the Bay|0 Comments