Around the Waterfront: Simanis, ‘Little Blue’ claim 2011 Shaw Island title | Guest Column

Fred Hoeppner writes about life on the water in the San Juans. His column

Ho! We had the wind this year. Came in bunches, but we had it. 

This year’s Winter Shaw Island Race sponsored by the Orcas Island Yacht Club may well be one of the best ever. Alex Simanis in Santa Cruz 27, Little Blue Dune Buggy was first overall with an elapsed time of 02:17:18 for the 12-mile race.  

Underway at 0730 hrs., Sat, 19. temperature 30, wind NE force 3, clouds .6 fracto cumulous, the Mitchell Bay entrants, Skippers Norris Palmer in Fragile Habitat and Hoeppner in Mariana, with respective crew Karen and Howard Lewis, in all the clothes they can find, set forth to do battle. 

At Limestone Point the anemometer was showing 16 knots true, and the GPS 3 kts. ebb. Mariana picked up one more crew, Dick Whiting, from the Orcas visitors float on Shelter Bay, and we’re ready to go.

The 1100 start was delayed until 1135 to give way to ferry traffic. The gun… and 18 boats are off. A broad reach eastward down Harney Channel brought us all to the east end of Shaw where several of the lead boats with spinnakers flying got smacked and nearly knocked down by gusts of 20 knots, or more. 

The now increasing flood to the north in San Juan Channel bucking the force 5-6 NE wind kicked up a wicked chop for the smaller boats, but they carried on quite well.   

Mariana had been pacing Fiona for some time up San Juan Channel and by the time we entered Wasp Passage managed to eke out a boat-length lead both hard on the wind making about six knots… when BAM! she stopped. I said, “—– we’ve hit a rock”. 

Fathometer showed five fathoms. She sort of shook her head for a few moments and then started sailing again into a windless hole. What happened? In a cooling down period after the race we figured that a simultaneous burst of wind hit us on both sides of the bow and just stopped us cold.

2011 Shaw Island Race Results:

Division I: 

1st: Blackfoot, Mick Corcoran, skipper; 2nd overall. 

2nd: Crazy Ivan, Chris White, skipper; 4th overall.

3rd: Ptolemy, Steve Emmes, skipper; 7th overall. 

Division II: 

1st: Fiona, Bruce Brackett, skipper; 3rd overall. 

2nd: Mariana, Fred Hoeppner, skipper; 5th overall.

3rd: Hassenpfeffer, Dave Wagner, skipper; 14th overall. 

Division III: 

1st: Little Blue Dune, Alex Simanis, skipper, 1st overall. 

2nd: Wild Rumpus, Stephanie Schwenk, skipper, 6th overall. 

3rd: Salt Heart, Jeff Rodenberger, 8th overall.