The third annual Mitchell Bay International Regatta took off last Saturday in what was to be the best regatta ever.
The two-day event, with nine boats sailing out of Mitchell Bay into Haro Strait, began with winds of force 3, increasing to force 4 in the afternoon. Most of us should have reefed right at the start, but past experience led us to think the winds would die shortly in the afternoon.
Ah, not so this time. It was rail down all day on the several interesting courses laid down by Friday Harbor Sailing Club Fleet Captain Paul Barger. One course required sailing down the west side, rounding Low Island off the County Park and returning to Mitchell Bay. Other courses were up Mosquito Pass and out to Open Bay.
After the races Saturday, the club had a wonderful barbecue hosted and served at the waterfront home of Mary and Howard Lewis. A pancake breakfast for the racers was also served by the Lewises Saturday and Sunday morning.
Sunday started out much the same, except more so. Sailors tucked in a reef this time before starting as the wind was still at force 4 gusting to force 5.
Long-ago racer Chuck Zalmanek in Maluna, a Newport 30, joined us this day after a lay off of some 15 years and showed us that he had not lost his touch at the helm.
If you want to learn how to sail a boat, I believe you must do some racing. In my opinion, most cruising-only sailors are sailing at 60 percent of their boat’s potential. Racing provides the opportunity to learn how to set your sails to gain maximum efficiency, rig the boat properly and jawbone with other expert racers. Start early. I had Howard’s daughter and his 4-year old nephew as crew on Saturday.
Lloyd Bacon in “Got To Run” with Jim Schutz his regular crew put on a remarkable demonstration of how to sail a Cal-20 in heavy weather. All the heavy boats were reefed down. The Cal-20 has no reefing capability. Lloyd sailed his boat in the force 4-5 winds with hardly a bit of heel leaving the fleet well behind, and thus winning first overall in the two-day regatta.
The top three finishers in PHRF Class: Lloyd Bacon in “Got to Run,” Bill VanSkyhawk in “Scarlet de Haro,” and yours truly in “Mariana.”
The top finisher in the Cruising Class: Ed Wilson in “Summer Breeze.”
— Fred Hoeppner is a retired Navy captain. He is a competitive sailor and lives on San Juan Island.