'Flash' finish in the Round the County Race | Along the Waterfront

The Round the County 2008 sailing race sponsored by the Orcas Island Yacht Club and the Friday Harbor Sailing Club had everything this year. Forty-knot gusts were reported.

Sixty-four boats started at Lydia Shoal just outside Obstruction Island on Saturday morning, racing clockwise around all of the San Juan Islands in this two-day event. The first-day finish was off Mitchell Bay, San Juan Island.

Sailing down Rosario Strait was a test for all the boats. Twenty- to 25-knot southeast winds kicked up choppy waves and put rails under all the way to the south end of Lopez Island. One boat had 18 crewmembers hanging over the weather rail. Twelve boats could not fight their way to the finish line this first day.

Sunday was a different story, with the start off Pearl Island in less than five knots. The flood current got everyone past Turn Point on Stuart Island eventually. Several boats got stuck in back eddies along Stuart Island's west side and watched their lead evaporate.

Only three boats reached the halfway mark at Patos Island and the race was called at this point. Flash, skippered by Steve Travis, finished first overall. Braveheart, skippered by Charles Burnet, finished second. Icon, skippered by Kevin Welch, finished third.

— Fred Hoeppner is a retired Navy captain and a competitive sailor. E-mail him at

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